Thursday, October 30, 2008

Something to be said about history

History has repeated itself in the world of sports and multiple times. The Cowboys, on paper, are depleted and the line for the game this upcoming Sunday in the Meadowlands against the division rival and first place Giants has grown from what I've heard to nine points from seven originally. Plus Nine that is for Dallas. A month ago ofcourse the line would have been even probably before the injury bug came completely out of nowhere to bite the Cowboys. The Cowboys have lost three of four, mainly from being slowed by injuries. The Giants are 6-1 with their only loss at Cleveland on a Monday Night to a Browns team that got blown out by Dallas in the opener. First off, it's never as bad or as good as it appears. I will revisit a time when I remember two NFC titans(the VERY BIG TWO as they were called) meet for a big showdown where one team was healthy and rolling along at 8-1 and the other was depleted at 5-4 and seemingly going nowhere fast. The year was 1995. The Dallas Cowboys were on their way to their third Super Bowl in four years. The San Francisco 49ers were the defending Super Bowl Champs and had been the second best otherwise in the two years prior to that when they lost to the Cowboys back to back in the NFC Championship game. These two teams were head and shoulders above the rest. Head and Shoulders. But into this week 10 showdown on November 12, 1995 in Texas Stadium, Dallas was firing on all cylinders at 8-1, probably should have been 9-0(their one loss at that point had been an upset loss to a rebuilding Redskin team in week 5 at RFK by four points when Aikman had left the game in the first quarter with a pulled hamstring if memory serves). Aikman returned the next week and the Cowboys hadn't lost since then. The 49ers were a trainwreck at 5-4, facing their fourth straight game without Steve Young(separated shoulder, again if memory serves-Young missed one more after this game)and having just suffered embarrassing back to back losses, both at home to the struggling Saints by a score of 11-7 and then hitting rock bottom the next week prior to Dallas, by losing 13-7 at home again to the expansion first year Carolina Panthers. Elvis Grbac had yet to find his rythym and the Niners had no more Ricky Watters(in Philly via free agency)and Fullback William Floyd, was gone for the year. Watter's replacement Derek Loville, was solid but not the kind of gamebreaker, game changer that Watters' had been capable of. So the Niners' offense was stuck in neutral, and their league leading defense was spending far too much time on the field. And Dallas was leading the NFL in every offensive category except passing TDs since Aikman moved the chains and the redzone was always EmmittZONE. Emmitt Smith was in his prime, the NFL's leading rusher and on his way to breaking the record for most rushing TDs in a season with 25. And the Cowboys defense was solid, ranking in the top third in the NFL. All signs pointed to BLOWOUT CITY for Dallas. The question all week on SportsCenter read "will the Niners' even SHOW UP?" And if that wasn't enough, the Cowboys had the added incentive of avenging the previous year's NFC Championship loss to the Niners. The Cowboys had swiped Deion Sanders, who'd won a ring the year before with the Niners just like when the Niners had snagged Ken Norton from the Cowboys after he'd been on the winning side for them. And a lot like '92 when Charles Haley(still a huge part of the Cowboys in '95) had been traded to Dallas from San Francisco. I remember wondering what the buildup was still for. Dallas was going to spank the 49ers' right? Embarrass them right? And then I turned on the tube, and on the second play from their own 19, Grbac found Jerry Rice over the middle being covered by Dallas linebacker Darin Smith and he was off to the races. 7 Zip Niners. No big deal still just a blown coverage. ALright, so the Niners won't get shut out. The Cowboys get the ball and on the first play, Aikman finds Michael Irvin on a routine slant pattern. Irvin was hit and did something he almost NEVER did in his career: Fumble! Scooped up by Niner free safety Merten Hanks who waltzed into the endzone and did his funky deal that he liked to do. One minute in 14-0 NINERS! And I vividly recall Pat Summeral saying "for those of you who've just tuned in, that's a correct score" Then Aikman was safety blized by Niner's safety Marquez Pope (Deion Sander's replacement) and injured his knee. Then Troy threw a pick to linebacker Ricky Jackson and a field goal made it 17-0 San Francisco still in the first quarter. And on the following series Troy Aikman (enter Wade Wilson) exited the game after being sacked by Dana Stubblefield. ANd just like that the Cowboys lost their second game of the season when they were double digit favorites AND incredibly in both games Troy Aikman didn't finish yet returned the following week as if he was never hurt and led his team to victory. Rice was moved around during the game and was uncovered each time he caught the ball. The Cowboys had NO IDEA what ran over them as they lost 38-20. And it wasn't even THAT close. It was an earth shattering loss for Dallas who DID manage to hold on for the NFC's number one seed and got a break in the playoffs by not having to face the 49ers, who were upset by Green Bay. Dallas still owned Green Bay and beat them in the NFC Championship and then beat Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. But that game between Dallas and San Francisco in Nov. 1995 served as the ultimate lesson of the catch phrase probably adopted by Chris Berman, "that's why they PLAY the game" After the game then Niner's president Carmen Policy jokingly thanked Dallas for not running up the score. There have been some other cases like this happening before then and since then but that one stands out the most TO ME. Is it possible that Dallas could go into the Meadowlands (where they have won the last two times) with not too much to lose(since there ARE still seven more games after this one including a rematch against New York) and a LOT to gain and end up consuming all of the emotional edge and just kick the hell out of the Giants like San Francisco did in 1995 at Texas Stadium? I'll never forget the sight of Emmitt and Irvin with just looks of bewilderment on their faces during that debacle and wondering what hit them. I'll also never forget all of the emotion on the San Francisco sideline. I mean the emotinal edge was all San Francisco's in that game. For starters, the Cowboys just need to have that emotional edge. The proverbial " come on, you can do it" "this is our game".

OH, and Jason Witten said" anyone who doesn't think we can win this Sunday, should stay behind"

No comments: