It’s impossible to tell the story of NFL history without the Cowboys and 49ers.
The two franchises have shared long periods of dominance, with the 49ers capturing four Super Bowl titles in the 1980s and the Cowboys winning three in the 1990s. NFC have often been a roadblock to each other on the road to championships.
On Sunday, the pair will meet in the wild-card round of the playoffs, with Dallas hosting San Francisco at 4:30 p.m. ET in a battle between the highest-scoring offense in the league and one of the toughest defenses in the league. NFL. When they meet, they will tie the Packers-49ers, Packers-Cowboys, Broncos-Steelers, 49ers-Giants and Cowboys-Rams for the most postseason games between two teams at eight.
Before they meet, Sporting News takes a look back at previous matchups between these two teams and the history they’ve made in their games together.
Playoff history between the Cowboys and 49ers
January 3, 1971: NFC Championship
The postseason rivalry began in a game that itself made history. Dallas and San Francisco reached the first NFC championship game since the merger of the NFL and AFL.
Tom Landry and the Cowboys had made the playoffs four straight seasons, each time losing in a different round. Last season, the Cowboys lost to the Browns in the Eastern Conference championship game, the second straight year the season ended because of Cleveland. The 49ers, managed by Dick Nolan, were making their first playoff appearance since losing the conference playoffs in 1957 to the Lions.
It was San Francisco that struck first on a Bruce Gossett field goal in the first quarter, but the Cowboys scored 17 unanswered in the second and third. John Brodie hit Dick Witcher with a 26-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-10, but the fourth quarter went scoreless and Dallas advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in history. He lost to the Colts in Super Bowl 5.
January 2, 1972: NFC Championship
For the second year in a row, the NFC’s representative in the Super Bowl would come down to either the 49ers or the Cowboys.
A year after winning the title, the Cowboys got a chance to see the 29-year-old Roger Staubach in his first full season after he began rotating the offense with the previous year’s starter, Craig Morton, and the expensive fresher won the role for the playoffs.
Despite a strong first full season, Staubach was relied on more to deliver the ball than to pass it, as Dallas rushed for 172 yards on 46 carries, while their standout defense intercepted John Brodie three times and kept San Francisco in line. only three points. Dallas scored touchdowns in the second and fourth quarters on runs by Calvin Hill and Duane Thomas to win the game 14-3 and advance to the Super Bowl for the second straight season. This time, the Cowboys pulled it off, beating Don Shula and the Dolphins 24-3 in Super Bowl 6.
December 23, 1972: NFC Divisional Round
This year, Staubach missed most of the regular season due to a shoulder injury.
However, Morton struggled for most of the team’s opening round of the playoffs against the 49ers, falling 28–13 in the first three quarters to San Francisco. Morton had a touchdown and two interceptions, while 49ers running back Larry Schreiber had three rushing touchdowns.
But Staubach earned the nickname “Captain Comeback” for a reason, and it started in 1972. In relief of Morton, Staubach threw for two fourth-quarter touchdowns and had 174 passing yards to help Dallas score 17 points in the final. fourth to win the game. 30-28. The celebration didn’t last long, however, as the Redskins defeated Dallas 26-3 in the next round.
January 10, 1982: NFC Championship
It would be a decade before the two foes met again, and this time, it was Bill Walsh coaching the 49ers and Joe Montana under center for the first time as a full starter. The Cowboys, who no longer had Staubach under center, were led by running back Tony Dorsett, who rushed for a career-high 1,646 yards during the regular season.
This time, however, the 49ers had the advantage. San Francisco held Dorsett to one touchdown and 91 yards on 22 carries, and limited quarterback Danny White to 173 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Montana orchestrated the 49ers to a consistent offense as San Francisco scored a touchdown in each quarter, three of which came from Montana’s arm.
Dallas scored touchdowns in the first, second and fourth quarters and knocked out Montana three times, but Montana hit Dwight Clark with a last-minute catch to put San Francisco up 28-27. White fumbled the ball on the Cowboys’ final drive, and the 49ers held on to advance to the Super Bowl, where they beat the Bengals for their first title victory in the Montana-Walsh era.
January 17, 1993: NFC Championship
Dallas managed to avoid getting in Montana’s way for the rest of their three rings, and the next time the two met, they began the first of three battles between Steve Young and Troy Aikman under center.
The first meeting of the two Hall of Fame quarterbacks gave fans a preview of the games to come. Dallas scored first with a field goal, but Young rushed in a touchdown to give San Francisco a 7-3 lead in the first quarter. Emmitt Smith responded with a touchdown in the second quarter, but the half ended with both teams tied.
The Cowboys again leaned into the running game, with Daryl Johnston scoring the go-ahead score in the third quarter with San Francisco managing just one field goal in the frame. Smith caught a pass from Aikman to start the fourth that gave Dallas a double-digit lead, and while Young connected with Jerry Rice to get it back to a four-point game, Aikman hit Kelvin Martin with a late pass to end the game. in 30-20. Aikman, Smith and the Cowboys beat Buffalo in Super Bowl 27 to give Dallas its first title victory under coach Jimmy Johnson.
January 23, 1994: NFC Championship
The second meeting between Young and Aikman didn’t feature the same kind of back-and-forth action as the first, and to date it remains the most one-sided of the seven matchups between the teams.
Smith scored first to give Dallas an early lead, but Young responded by tying the game at seven in the second quarter. That’s when Dallas took over, with Johnston running for a touchdown, Smith catching a pass from Aikman and Jay Novacek scoring a 19-yard touchdown run from Aikman in the second as Dallas took a commanding 28-7 lead.
Aikman had to leave the game with a concussion, but the Dallas offense continued to score, with Alvin Harper catching a Bernie Kosar touchdown in the third quarter to answer for a Ricky Watters rushing touchdown. Young ran for a late touchdown, but Dallas won 38-21 before beating the Bills again in the Super Bowl.
January 15, 1995: NFC Championship
An NFC championship game between the Cowboys and 49ers. Sounds familiar? For a record sixth time, the conference winner would be decided in a game between one of two foes.
This time, however, Aikman and the Cowboys were not going to be the representatives. The 49ers started the game with a pick-six by Eric Davis off Aikman to open the scoring. Watters caught a pass from Young for another score and William Floyd scrambled for another to give San Francisco a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Aikman to Irvin for 44 yards put Dallas on the board before the end of the frame, but the second quarter was something to forget for Dallas. The 49ers started with a field goal before Smith ran for a touchdown, but Rice caught a 28-yard touchdown run from Young to make it 31-14.
Smith returned to score on the ground in the third and Aikman again found Irvin in the end zone in the fourth, but a rushing touchdown by Young in the third ensured that the game was always at least 10 points away from Dallas. , as the 49ers won 38-28
George Seifert and the 49ers made it to the Super Bowl, where they beat Bobby Ross and the Chargers 49-26 on Young’s record six touchdown passes. It is the last time either team will meet or win the Super Bowl.