1995 Review: Cowboys Dominate Eagles and Survive Packers to Reach SB 30

Michael Irvin goes to grab a pass in front of Craig Newsome in the 1995 NFC Championship Game.

A win over the Arizona Cardinals on Christmas evening in 1995 allowed the Cowboys to earn home field advantage in the playoffs, but there were still concerns. After the Eagles trounced the Lions 58-37 in the wildcard round of the playoffs, the Cowboys had to endure a week of listening to pundits question Barry Switzer’s 4th-and-1 call that effectively cost the Cowboys the game at Veterans Stadium a few weeks earlier. Most also assumed that Dallas would face San Francisco for a fourth consecutive year, given that the 49ers had home field against the Packers. However, Green Bay had other ideas.

As before, below are the video highlights of both playoff games, followed by the summaries.

Dallas 30, Philadelphia 11

Early in the Cowboys’ game against Philadelphia, safety Darren Woodson made a crushing hit on Eagle QB Rodney Peete, knocking Peete from the game with the Cowboys leading 3-0. Philadelphia had to turn to former starter Randall Cunningham, who had reportedly not even brought his playbook to Dallas. In the coldest game played at Texas Stadium at that time (26 degrees with a -2 degree wind chill factor), the Dallas defense shut down Philadelphia for most of the game. Deion Sanders scored his first touchdown as a Cowboy on a reverse in the second quarter, and other TDs by Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin were enough to turn the game into a rout. Oddly, the TD was Irvin’s only reception for the game, but Kevin Williams came through to catch six passes for 124 yards. Sanders also added an interception on defense.

Dallas 38, Green Bay 27

The Cowboys had beaten the Packers in the playoffs during the two previous seasons, but this marked the first time that the Packers had made the conference championship game since 1967 (which was actually the NFL Championship Game). Dallas quieted Green Bay’s excitement when Troy Aikman hit Irvin on two touchdown in the first half, but Brett Favre responded with TDs to Robert Brooks and Keith Jackson to reclaim the lead. Dallas stormed back again, though, and a touchdown run by Smith gave Dallas a 24-17 halftime lead.

The third quarter gave Dallas fans plenty of reasons to sweat, as the Packers scored 10 unanswered points to take a 27-24 lead. The Dallas defense stiffened, but the Cowboys found themselves starting a drive at their own 1 in the fourth quarter. Huge plays by Smith and Irvin, though, helped the Cowboys to move downfield, and Smith’s five-yard run gave Dallas a 31-27 lead. Brett Favre had a chance to move the Packers back into scoring range, but he threw an ill-fated pass that was picked off by oft-maligned CB Larry Brown. Irvin then caught a pass that had tipped off the shoulder pad of CB Doug Evans, and the play helped move Dallas into position for Smith to score on a 16-yard run.

Smith finished with 150 yards on 33 carries with 3 TDs. Irvin added 100 receiving yards on seven receptions with 2 TDs.

And for the third time in four years, Dallas was headed back to the Super Bowl.