Standings All-Cowboys vs. 49ers NFL Playoffs 1-8: NFC Rivals Gear Up for Ninth Showdown in 2023 Season


There are some matches in sports that evoke memories of the epic matches that defined tournaments and legacies. On Sunday, f 49ers And Cowboys It would renew a postseason rivalry dating back to the Cowboys’ first Super Bowl in over a half century. The 49ers dynasty also began by defeating the Cowboys in one of the greatest games ever played. The rivalry peaked in the 1990s, when the two teams battled for league supremacy.


You can’t write the story of the NFL without a chapter dedicated to the 49ers-Cowboys rivalry. The two teams have met in the playoffs on eight occasions, with the winner going on to lift the Lombardy Cup five times. The Cowboys currently hold a 5-3 advantage. Besides championships, the Games have defined the careers of legendary players and coaches, including Tom Landry, Bill Walsh, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, Steve Young, Emmett Smith, and more.

Below we’re ranking the eight 49ers-Cowboys playoffs as we anticipate the ninth meeting between the two double-decker franchises in Sunday’s divisional playoff game.

8. 1971 NFC Championship Game: Cowboys 14 vs 49ers 3

The Cowboys’ first round of the postseason included a career-low victory over the 49ers. Dallas’ running game and three forced turnovers were the difference in this game. Led by quarterback Roger Staubach’s 55 yards, the Cowboys offense totaled 172 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

Duane Thomas, who issued the silent treatment to the media and his teammates all season, scored the game-clinching goal in the fourth quarter to seal the Cowboys’ second straight Super Bowl berth. The Dallas “Doomsday Defense” selected three-time 49ers Pro Bowl QB John Brodie. The 49ers’ defensive effort was led by Cedric Hardiman, who sacked Staubach 3.5 times.

7. 1970 NFC Championship Game: Cowboys 17, 49ers 10

The first meeting between the two teams was the right to play in Super Bowl V. While Brodie threw for 160 more yards than his peer, Craig Morton, his two interceptions contributed to the 49ers losing in front of their home fans. Thomas led the Cowboys’ offense, which includes 143 rushing yards with a 13-yard touchdown drive.

Trailing 17-3, the 49ers pulled one score but were tipped with two minutes left. It was the final playoff victory in a Cowboys uniform for Morton, who was benched in favor of Staubach during the 1971 season.

6. 2021 Wild Card: 49ers 23, Cowboys 17

While it’s a close match, the fact that it didn’t go deeper into the playoffs is why it ranks lower on the list. San Francisco controlled most of the day before the Cowboys pulled within two goals in the fourth quarter.

Dallas got a chance to complete the comeback after recovering the ball at their own 20-yard line with 32 seconds left in the game. Three completions got the Cowboys at midfield, but Dallas ran out time after Dak Prescott took off on a 17-yard touchdown run. Prescott bunted the ball in an effort to stop the clock as time expired.

The 49ers defense sacked Prescott five times in the win, while Elijah Mitchell and Debo Samuel destroyed the Cowboys defense with 168 yards on 37 carries.

5. 1993 NFC Championship Game: Cowboys 38, 49ers 21

Jimmy Johnson was on his way to dinner when he heard a local radio station discussing whether his Cowboys could win a second straight NFC game over San Francisco. Instead of listening to the debate, Johnson decided to weigh himself.

“We’re going to win the ball game,” Johnson said on the air. “And you can put it in three-inch headlines. We’re going to win the ball game.”

Based on his quotes that made national headlines, Johnson assured his players that they would cash his check. The outcome was never in question, as Dallas took a 28-7 lead in front of hometown fans. Even an early exit from Aikman (who was hospitalized after suffering a concussion) would stop the Cowboys, who represented the game on Bernie Kosar’s third-quarter touchdown pass to Alvin Harper.

The Cowboys offense was led by Smith, the league’s MVP that season. Smith scored two touchdowns while gaining nearly as many rushing yards (85) as rushing yards (88). The Dallas defense recorded four sacks of Young while holding Rice to 83 yards on six receptions. The Cowboys successfully defended their title after defeating Invoices at Super Bowl XXVIII.

4. 1972 Divisional Tournament: Cowboys 30, 49ers 28

Dallas had defeated San Francisco in the previous two NFC Championship games. But in 1972, the 49ers defeated the Cowboys during the regular season and built a 28-13 lead through three quarters in the divisional round. However, the fourth quarter was dominated by Staubach, who engineered a three-scoring drive that included his game-winning touchdown pass to Ron Sellers. It was one of 23 winning fourth-quarter comebacks for Staubach, whose penchant for late game winning earned him the nickname “Captain Comeback”. Dallas also had two interceptions from defensive back Charlie Waters, who helped catch 49ers’ quarterback Brody to just 150 yards.

3. 1994 NFC Championship Game: 49ers 38, Cowboys 28

The motivated 49ers took a 21-0 lead on the strength of two forced turnovers. Dallas cut the deficit to 24-14 before hitting Young Rice with a 44-yard bomb before halftime. Despite valiant efforts, the Cowboys never closed the gap while failing in their quest to become the first team to win three consecutive Super Bowls. Despite falling short of their goal, Aikman has claimed this game as the Cowboys’ proudest moment of the 1990s. With Smith playing through an injury, Dallas received a hard effort from Irvin, who caught 12 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns.

But the star of the day was Young, who sealed the game with a 3-yard touchdown run. The former Montana backup took a victory lap around the court after leading the 49ers to their fifth Super Bowl. Young would cap off his MVP season by hitting a record six touchdowns in San Francisco’s Super Bowl victory over the Chicago Bulls chargers.

2. 1992 NFC Championship Game: Cowboys 30, 49ers 20

This was a changing guard game, as the Cowboys dethroned the 49ers as the premier league team. The Cowboys held a precarious 24-20 lead after Young and Rice connected on a 5-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Instead of being held, the Cowboys went on to win as Harper caught a 70-yard touchdown pass to set up Aikman’s game-clinching pass to Kelvin Martin. The Cowboys offense was backed up by Smith, who on a muddy track totaled 173 yards and two touchdowns. Dallas went on to defeat the Bills 52-17 to win the franchise’s first championship since 1977.

1. 1981 NFC Championship Game: 49ers 28, Cowboys 27

A strong NFC team during the 1970s, the Cowboys hoped to return to the Super Bowl for a sixth time to enter the 1981 NFC Title Game. The Cowboys would first have to get past a San Francisco team that beat them by 31 points again in Week 6. And the rematch would be an entirely different story, as the two teams dueled in one of the most competitive championship games in NFL history.

The Cowboys pulled ahead on a 21-yard Danny White pass to Doug Cosby with 10:41 left. Trailing 27-21 with 4:54 left, Montana led the 49ers on an 89-yard drive that included a big punt by running back Lenvil Elliott. Walsh’s offense kept the Cowboys defense on its heels with sweeps, reverse receiver Freddie Solomon’s 14-yard catch, and intermediate passes from Montana to Solomon and fellow receiver Dwight Clark (more on him in a second).

Facing a third-and-3 with 58 seconds left, Montana rolled to his right before being quickly met by three Dallas defenders. Despite the defenders’ barrage, Montana stood tall and threw the ball into the back of the end zone. While he couldn’t see it, Montana had confidence that Clark would be in the cornerback of the end zone. Sure enough, Clark opened the door and snagged Montana’s high pass on defensive back Iverson Walls. The celebration after “The Catch” was enough to piss off a 4-year-old fan named Tom Brady, who was at the game with his parents.

The Cowboys still had a chance to steal the win in the final minute of the game, and almost did when White hit Drew Pearson on an intermediate pass near midfield. But Pearson was caught from behind by rookie defensive back Eric Wright at his own 44-yard line, which resulted in a emphatic touchdown. On the next play, White fumbled after being hit by Lawrence Bellers. The ball was caught by defensive end Jim Stuckey, preserving the 49ers’ ticket to Super Bowl XVI. It was the first of four Super Bowl trips during the decade for the 49ers, who have won each time while being named the team of the 1980s.

With victory in hand, the Cowboys Pro Bowl approached Montana with a rushing pass by Ed “Too Tall” Jones, one of the defensemen who pressured Montana on the game-winning touchdown pass.

“I just beat Team America,” Jones told Montana.

Joe Cole replied, “Well, you can sit on your ass with the rest of America and watch the Super Bowl.”


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