Cowboys: Looking Back At Super Bowl XXVIII


The Dallas Cowboys were done with Super Bowl XXVII by halftime, but in Super Bowl XXVIII the following year they didn’t even get started until halftime.

Like any great movie, a great Super Bowl deserves a sequel. This is exactly Dallas Cowboys followers, just awakened by the previous year’s championship route of the Buffalo Bills, got in Super Bowl XVIII.

Where the season prior had been like a fantasy for much of Cowboys Nation, 1993 started with stress and continued that way until the opening moments of the second half at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Yes, things change once you become a Super Bowl-winning team. Opportunities for players begin popping up, contract demands kick into high gear and expectations of the largest fan base in American professional sports go through the roof.

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The Dallas Cowboys went through all of it.

Two-time NFL-leading rusher Emmitt Smith held out of training camp while waiting for a salary more appropriate for what his contributions were. This drug on through training camp and into the regular season until the Cowboys were a sparkling perfect 0-2, the last loss coming against, ironically, the Bills at Texas Stadium.

With a new contract signed and the Cowboys with their top weapon heading into Week 3 against the Phoenix Cardinals, a bizarre combination of desperation and excitement had sunk in deep amongst a fan base that was truly on pins and needles.

The Cowboys would rattle off seven-straight wins, including a key win over the San Francisco 49ers at Texas Stadium.

Losing back-to-back games to the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins in a span of just five days in November changed the complexion of everything. The Cowboys lost in Atlanta without Aikman and then Leon Lett ponied up his infamous blocked field goal recovery on an icy field at Texas Stadium – except he didn’t actually recover the ball, the Dolphins did. The next field goal attempt was good.

This turbulent season came down to a winner-take-all showdown on the road against the New York Giants, who had parlayed a non-playoff schedule into an 11-4 record heading into the regular season’s final weekend. The Cowboys needed overtime and a one-armed Smith out of the backfield to finally claim what should have been theirs which much less urgency and drama – the NFC East title and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

It came as no surprise that San Francisco came knocking for an NFC Championship Game rematch, but this time in Irving. Aikman would leave this game with one of his many career concussions, the reigning Super Bowl MVP not even able to remember any part of that game. Dallas would pull away for the win, but with just a week separating the conference championship weekend and Super Bowl XXVIII, it was anybody’s guess as to how this team would look in a rematch against the Bills.

After a nice kickoff return by rookie wide receiver Kevin Williams near midfield, Aikman looked sharp in hitting Michael Irvin on a deep slant for 20 yards. Kicker Eddie Murray would boot a field goal for an early 3-0 lead, but that would be about it for a defending world champion that looked highly vulnerable at the half in trailing an aging Buffalo team 13-6.

It only took three plays for the game to change in the second half. Perhaps atoning for previous missteps, Lett forced Bills running back Thurman Thomas to fumble a carry that ended up in the hands of safety James Washington. Following a 46-yard return on the turnover, a Buffalo specialty in numerous Super Bowl appearances, the game was tied 13-13.

The Bills would be held to three-and-out on their ensuing offensive possession, one that ended with the first sack of the game for a Dallas defense that was energized and poised to take over the game if the offense could just help out.

The Cowboys first offensive possession came with the score now tied, despite the fact that it had yet to step on the field. Smith ran the ball seven times on a punishing eight-play touchdown drive that briefly sent Bills star defenders Bruce Smith and Darryl Talley to the sidelines on successive plays.

The rest of this game was like a bulldozer going downhill with Smith at the wheel. Turnovers, touchdowns and big plays rained down inside the Georgia Dome for the remaining 24 minutes of football until the Cowboys came away with a most-relieving 30-13 win, their fourth Super Bowl championship in a then-NFL record seven appearances.

Next: Cowboys So Close, But So Far From Super Bowl

Regardless of what happens in the Week 16 rematch of that memorable Super Bowl, be sure to wish the Buffalo Bills a very Merry Christmas, even if it’s a few days late. Gifts like those given to the Dallas Cowboys back in the 1990s should never be forgotten.