Dallas Cowboys: 1991 vs. 2009

I am fully aware that this means nothing in the long run, but the 2009 season has been so eerily similar to the 1991 season, it is hard not to hope that next year follows the same pattern.

Here are points of comparison.

Four-Game Winning Streaks

1991: The Cowboys started at 1-2 but then went on a four-game winning streak to improve their record to 5-2.

2009: The Cowboys started at 2-2 but then went on a four-game winning streak to improve their record to 6-2.

Ends of the Winning Streaks

1991: The Cowboys ended their winning streak by losing to a northern team (Detroit) on the road.

2009: Same, except the loss occurred at Green Bay.

Upsetting Undefeated Teams

1991: On November 24, the 6-5 Cowboys were coming off a two-game losing streak, with one of those losses occurring on the road against the Giants. Dallas faced the 11-0 Redskins at Washington. The Cowboys pulled off the huge 24-21 upset, giving the team momentum down the stretch.

2009: On December 19, the 8-5 Cowboys were coming off a two-game losing streak, with one of those losses occurring on the road against the Giants. Dallas faced the 13-0 Saints at New Orleans. The Cowboys pulled off the huge 24-17 upset, giving the team momentum down the stretch.

Learning from Previous Year’s Mistakes

1991: The Cowboys needed to win one of their last two games against the Eagles or Falcons to make the playoffs in 1990. Dallas lost both games. In 1991, the Cowboys faced the Eagles and Falcons again in the last two weeks, and Dallas won both games, securing a playoff berth.

2009: The Cowboys needed to win one of their last two games against the Ravens or Eagles to make the playoffs in 2008. Dallas lost both games. In 2009, the Cowboys faced the Redskins and Eagles in the last two weeks, and Dallas won both games, securing a playoff berth.

11-5

1991: The Cowboys finished with an 11-5 record and finished in second place in the NFC East.

2009: The Cowboys finished with an 11-5 record and won the NFC East.

Playoff Droughts Ended

1991: Dallas had not won a playoff game between 1982 and 1991. That streak came to an end when the Cowboys beat the Bears on December 29, 1991.

2009: Dallas had not won a playoff game between 1996 and 2009. That streak came to an end when the Cowboys beat the Eagles on January 9, 2010.

Blowout Losses in a Dome in a Northern City

1991: Dallas traveled to Detroit to take on the Lions in the 1991 playoffs. Dallas expected to have to stop running back Barry Sanders, but instead, Erik Kramer destroyed the Dallas secondary in a 38-6 Detroit win.

2009: Dallas traveled to Minnesota to take on the Vikings in the 2009 playoffs. Dallas expected to have to stop running Adrian Peterson, but instead, Brett Favre destroyed the Dallas secondary in a 34-3 Minnesota win

* * *

There are some other parallels and points of comparison, though some of these will need to play themselves out in 2010 and beyond.

Emerging Triplets (?)

1991: Troy Aikman was in his third season, Emmitt Smith was in his second season, and Michael Irvin was in his fourth season. Smith and Irvin emerged as Pro Bowlers in 1991, but Aikman was a year away from proving he was the real deal.

2009: Tony Romo is in his fourth season as a starter, Felix Jones is in his second season, and Miles Austin has emerged as a starter. Austin became a Pro Bowler, and Jones emerged as the team’s best running back at the end of the season. Romo got over one hump by beating the Eagles in the playoffs, but he needs more playoff wins to truly prove himself.

Head Coaches

1991: Jimmy Johnson was in his third season as head coach after replacing Tom Landry. Playoff wins as of 1991: Landry 20, Johnson 1.

2009: Wade Phillips is in his third season as head coach after replacing Bill Parcells. Playoff wins (for Dallas) as of 2009: Phillips 1, Parcells 0.

Brett Favre

1991: Favre was a little-known backup with the Atlanta Falcons. He was on the team that lost to the Cowboys in the final game of the regular season.

2009: Favre is probably the best known football player on the planet. He signed with Minnesota in August, leading the Vikings to a #2 seed and a playoff win over the Cowboys.

Randy Galloway

1991: Galloway was columnist with the Dallas Morning News. His column after the Cowboys’ 38-6 loss to the Lions:

They had come this far, this fast, but then they lose like that. Every defensive wart exposed. Every coaching move trumped. Every angle covered by the other guys.

They had come this far, this fast, but then they depart the playoffs looking Sunday like a ringer that had slipped past NFL security.

2009: The comment above could describe the Cowboys’ loss to the Vikings, except the focus of his piece in 1991 was onĀ  Jimmy Johnson’s response to the loss. He’s since moved on to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where the focus of Galloway & Hate this week most likely won’t express confidence in Wade Phillips.

Jerry Jones

Okay, so the pictures are from 1992 and 2006. You get the idea (KNIFE).

The Following Year

1992: Dallas goes 13-3 and wins Super Bowl XXVII.

2010: We can only dream for now.

  • Mr. Mulligan

    This kind of article is fun and interesting to ponder. But, sadly, as you acknowledged, it means nothing, in term of predicting the future.

  • Buddy Kilroy

    After the game, Jerry Jones looked like a man who had performed a self-inflicted anatomical impossibility. And he had. When he hired T.O., Bill Parcells was on his way out the door(Parcells signs one year contracts for explicitly this option). Jones is a bathetic want-to-be who doesn’t “get it” (as Parcells would say). If Parcells had stayed in Dallas, the Cowboys would have, or be on their way to, another Superbowl Ring, but Jones couldn’t endure being considered a peripheral contributor. It’s a shame Jones can’t become head coach, because he’d get booed out of own video game.

  • Buddy, it is baseless conjecture to say Parcells would have had more success here than Phillips. This team had talent in 2006, only to see a late-season collapse followed by an embarrassing loss at Seattle. Parcells’ idea of changing things up on defense was to move DeMarcus Ware to from the right side of the line to the left, and the offense under Parcells could never handle the blitz. His records of 10-6, 6-10, 9-7, and 9-7– the latter of which should have been much better– hardly provide evidence that he was going to lead this team to Super Bowl titles.

    The Super Bowl rings that Parcells have look great, but he earned those in 1986 and 1990. I’ll give him credit for bringing in some great talent, but I don’t think this team was going to flourish had he decided to stay.

  • emmitt22

    One step at a time, we need to be patient. We got the monkey off our backs last week, this was ugly, but we can improve on it for next year and not have to listen to all the December talk.

  • Mike Little

    Matt,I’m probably rushing things,but when you’re ready I would like to know what you feel the needs of the team are,from players to coaching,and if certain changes would get Dallas to the next level?Your comparison of 1991 to 2009 reminds me of the Charles Haley deal.He was the missing piece for that ’92 team that got them to that next level.Thanks,Mike

  • Mike,

    I thought long and hard about your question and the reference to Haley. I think that Brooking was a great pickup on the defensive side of the ball– it would be nice to have someone like that on offense. I’ve given up on Roy Williams and sort of wish the team could bring in a dependable veteran to serve as the second receiver. That isn’t going to happen, especially given what the team gave up to get Williams. What I suggested in my most recent post was that the team draft a receiver in the first or second round, hope that Kevin Ogletree emerges early in the season, and hope that the rookie emerges later in the season. Of course, the team also has to pay Austin to keep him here long-term, which probably negates that entire idea.

    All of that said, my vanilla answer is that the team just need to keep building momentum. It has talent in all the right places, but things have broken down at just the wrong time (missed field goals, the line breaks down, whatever). If the team can manage to win two more games next year– which doesn’t require a major overhaul– there’s a good chance we’ll have home field advantage again and be in a good position to have playoff success. I really expect it next year and will be very discouraged if it doesn’t happen.

  • Todd (Tmoney)

    Ok, here is one more comparison for ya and i will say
    this i am buying your comparison. In the sixties the cowboys never won a superbowl but were competitive in the odd years they won i believe two out of four. In the even years the 80’s nothin. See joe montanas play still makes me cry. Then there were the nineties with Haley good point
    three super bowls later. Then the even years again. Zilch the big squadush. But now in the odd years 2010-2019 who knows to be continued. I love the possibility of a home game in the super bowl would be amazing.
    But we need a running back that is the piece that
    is missing and his name is Steven Jackson thanks Bill for
    Julius Jones. Thank you good night.!!!

  • Todd, I’ve thought of the every-other-decade irony as well. That certainly bodes well for us, for those who believe in these sort of things. After the last decade, I’ll take hope in any way, shape, or form.