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Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers: 5 Most Memorable Moments in the Rivalry

Dwight Clark's "The Catch," 1982 NFC Championship Game

"The Catch" in the 1982 NFC Championship Game is the seminal moment in the 49ers-Cowboys rivalry

The last time the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers met in the playoffs, their starting quarterbacks were Troy Aikman and Steve Young. That changes on Sunday when these teams meet in the "Super Wild Card Round." This is one of the rare NFL rivalries that is not between two teams in the same division and has produced many memorable moments. Here are the top five.

5. 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 of the 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 wide receiver 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.