The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers series is one of the rare NFL rivalries that is not between two teams in the same division. While the two teams enter Sunday’s game not having their best seasons, this rivalry has produced many memorable moments. Here are the top five.
5. The Third Time is the Charm for San Francisco
San Francisco 49ers 38, Dallas Cowboys 28 (NFC Championship Game)
Jan. 15, 1995 – San Francisco
After losing two straight NFC Championship Games in a row to the Cowboys, San Francisco got creative with free agency and the salary cap to add Hall of Famers, Deion Sanders, Richard Dent, and Rickey Jackson, along with a number of other veterans. This time, the 49ers capitalized on five Dallas turnovers to take a 21-0 first-quarter lead and then held on to win against a Cowboys team that would not quit.
4. T.O. Poses on Dallas' Star
San Francisco 49ers 41, Dallas Cowboys 24
Sept. 24, 2000 – Irving, Texas
San Francisco wide receiver Terrell Owens scored two touchdowns, but it's what he did after them that is remembered. When he scored in the second quarter on a three-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Garcia, "T.O." ran and posed on the Cowboys star in the middle of the field. The first time, the Dallas players were stunned, but when he did it again in the fourth quarter, they had had enough, and safety George Teague clocked him. Teague was ejected and the 49ers suspended Owens for a week.
3. Roger Staubach Comes off Bench to Lead Comeback
Dallas Cowboys 30, San Francisco 49ers 28 (NFC Divisional Playoff)
Dec. 23, 1972 – San Francisco
Moments before Dallas and San Francisco played, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris beat the Oakland Raiders on the "Immaculate Reception" in the Divisional Round. The next game was just as exciting. The 49ers jumped out to a 28-13 fourth-quarter lead and Cowboys head coach Tom Landry replaced starter Craig Morton with Roger Staubach, who had been out with a separated shoulder for much of the season. Staubach fumbled on the first possession, but then found his groove and Dallas scored 10 straight points. The Cowboys then recovered an onside kick and Staubach hit Ron Sellers for a touchdown to pull ahead for good with 52 seconds to go.
2. How About Them Cowboys!
Dallas Cowboys 30, San Francisco 49ers 20 (NFC Championship Game)
Jan. 17, 1993 – San Francisco
The Cowboys went 1-15 during Jimmy Johnson's first season in 1989. Three seasons later, he had them in the Super Bowl after beating San Francisco on the road in the NFC Championship Game. As the team celebrated in the locker room on CBS, Johnson announced the resurrection of the franchise with the now-iconic phrase, "How about them Cowboys!"
1. The Catch
San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys 27 (NFC Championship Game)
Jan. 10, 1982 – San Francisco
Could it be anything else? San Francisco head coach Bill Walsh had taken the 49ers from 2-14 in 1979 to 13-3 in 1981. However, they still had to beat Dallas to make the Super Bowl and it looked like they were going to come up short as the Cowboys led 27-21 as the clock wound down. Then Joe Montana led San Francisco on an 83-yard drive that culminated with the iconic game-winning catch by Dwight Clark. "The Catch" represented a watershed moment for both franchises as San Francisco became the team of the 1980s, while Dallas struggled.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports' Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.
(Top photo courtesy of www.49ers.com)