When you’re a Dallas Cowboys fan, playoff appearances nowadays are a dime a dozen. It seems, that whenever they make it to the postseason, the week before the game, us Cowboy fans love to relive great playoff games of years past. Too bad for me, I either haven’t been alive for the glory years, or I wasn’t old enough to appreciate it. Today, I wanted to explore one of my favorite Dallas playoff games of all time, the 1991 wild-card classic, between the Cowboys and the Chicago Bears. I picked this game, because it was this win, that triggered a dynasty. This was the first playoff victory under Jimmy Johnson, Jerry Jones, and the “triplets”era.
Fans have to understand, that this was a Dallas team, that two years before this game, went 1-15. To think that a team that bad, made such a turnaround that quickly, is remarkable. The 91 team ended the regular season at 11-5, while the Bears won their division, and was trying to make another Super Bowl run, like the one they had in 1985.
An incredible thing to realize about this game, was that it was without Troy Aikman, who was lost to injury. Instead, Steve Beuerlein was under center. Dallas came into the game as underdogs, as they set out to Solider Field, to play a Bears team who was quarterbacked by Jim Harbaugh.
Dallas came out with a hot start, with an Emmitt Smith touchdown in the first quarter, which led to a 10-0 lead after 15 minutes. However, the key to the game, was defense. The Dallas defense stopped the Bears on a 4th and goal from the 2, which set the tone for the entire game. A future Super Bowl MVP also came up big for the Cowboys. Rookie cornerback, Larry Brown, picked off Harbaugh in the redzone to stop another Bears scoring opportunity.
Late in game, down by four, the Bears were driving with an opportunity to win the game, and extend the season. However, the Cowboys, and their future destiny, had other plans. Safety Bill Bates, jumped in front of a pass, and snatched it out of the December sky, and secured a Dallas victory, 17-13. Second year running back Emmitt Smith, became the first person in NFL history to record 100 yards rushing in Soldier Field.
The Cowboys’ season ended the next week in Detroit, but for Dallas their progression, they were only getting started. The Cowboys would go on to win 3 out of the next 4 Super Bowls, establishing one of the greatest dynasties in football history. One of the major turning points for that team, was that upset in Chicago.
The reason why I wanted to write about this game, is because this year’s Dallas team, has the opportunity similar to the 91 team. They have a young squad, and a win would put them in the their first NFC championship game since 1996.