It is always interesting when two teams take the field and neither on has established its historical superiority over the other. When you add in the fact that, over the course of a 12 year span from 1973 until 1985, they met eight times in the NFC Playoffs and also split that series evenly, there is a significant chance that fans who know their team's history will have little trouble getting fired up for the next renewal of the rivalry. Fans of both the Rams and Cowboys have been given that opportunity this weekend. Let's look back through time at the game that set the tone for one of the better rivalries of the 1970's and early 80's.
Over the first dozen years that the Cowboys were a part of the NFL, the teams met a total of four time, with the Rams holding a 3-1 advantage. The sole bright spot for Dallas was a 1972 victory over the then Los Angeles Rams in Anaheim, California. The turning point in the series came the following year when Dallas hosted the Rams in their first post season face-off. At that time, the NFL rotated home field advantage by division instead of allowing the higher seeded team to host the game, so the Rams traveled to Texas Stadium even though they had a two game advantage over Dallas in the standings. Presented with the chance to avenge themselves for a loss earlier in the season, the Cowboys jumped out to an early 17-0 lead. Eventually, the Rams would battle back and, by the fourth quarter, they had closed the gap to 17-16. Looking to regain momentum, Roger Staubach called a pass to "Bullet" Bob Hayes, but found his intended target covered. Looking at his secondary option, Staubach fired the ball toward a streaking Drew Pearson, who had broken free on a deep post pattern. Catching the ball at midfield, Pearson set sail for the end zone. The legendary "Doomsday Defense" shut down the Rams for the remainder of the afternoon, and Dallas clinched a spot in their fourth consecutive NFC Championship Game. The mystic that surrounds Drew Pearson as a clutch playoff performer began that day, as did one of the legendary rivalries of a bygone era.
Although some of the luster has faded due to both franchises not living up to their proud histories in recent years, this Sunday, when two old foes take to the gridiron, no doubt some fans will reflect on the days when guys like Merlin Olson took the field to due battle against Rayfield Wright with NFC glory on the line. To those fans, I say may the action we see on the field this weekend be worthy of what those NFL legends did to build this this rivalry, and may the best team win.