There have been 48 previous Super Bowls, and the Dallas Cowboys have participated in eight of them. Over at NFL.com, Elliot Harrison and Gil Brandt tried to rank them all. It's an interesting look back at Super Bowl history, but of course, everyone has their own criteria of what makes a great Super Bowl. For me, and most of you, the best Super Bowls are the ones that the Cowboys win. But to be fair, the article ranked the games based on the idea of the worst to best games. So let's take a look at where the Cowboys games fall on the list.
Dallas' first mention comes in at #39, a game the Cowboys pretty much dominated, and one I remember watching as a young kid (yes, I'm that old). For me, this game will always be remembered for the Butch Johnson catch that surely would have been overruled by replay today.
39. Super Bowl XII - Dallas Cowboys 27, Denver Broncos 10: Dallas' second Super Bowl win was an unexciting game, with the Cowboy defense dominating throughout. Gil Brandt recalled safety Randy Hughes' performance, and laments that a player with such potential had his career ruined by shoulder injuries. Hughes and the secondary played well, but co-MVPs Harvey Martin and Randy White downright terrorized Broncos quarterbacks, who combined to go 8-of-25 for 61 yards with four interceptions.
Next up at #34 was the blowout, a game so thoroughly dominated by the Cowboys that I was the only one still watching it in the fourth quarter at the Super Bowl party I hosted that year. Its most memorable play was the Leon Lett/Don Beebe play.
34. Super Bowl XXVII - Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17: Leon Lett's non-touchdown fumble return has been a teaching video for millions of junior high football players, thanks to the hustle of former Bills wideout Don Beebe. Who sprints that hard to stop a 52-17 game from being 59-17?
The next game holds a special memory for me, it was the game that made me a Cowboys fan. As a wee lad, I remember watching bits of this game, liking that Star on the helmet and deciding right then that the Cowboys were my team. I guess I was bandwagon from the beginning!
29. Super Bowl VI - Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3: Gil Brandt's take: "[The Dolphins] were a good football team because of their defense. However, in the Super Bowl, we were able to get Nick Buoniconti blocked. Hell, we ran for 250 yards on them. Then, Larry Csonka fumbles the ball away. He hadn't fumbled in 300-some-odd touches that year before the Super Bowl ... and then there was the big sack.
"That was our best Cowboy team. You look at our running backs in that Super Bowl: Duane Thomas, Calvin Hill, Walt Garrison, Dan Reeves. Who had four running backs like that? Our whole roster was like that. We had Mel Renfro and Herb Adderley at corner (both are in the Hall of Fame). We also picked up Forrest Gregg and Lance Alworth (two more Hall of Famers) during that season!"
The next game, at #26, has the distinction of being the only Super Bowl where the MVP came from the losing team, linebacker Chuck Howley.
26. Super Bowl V - Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13: Gil Brandt's take: "The Cowboys lost 16-13 to the Colts on Jim O'Brien's field goal. We were a better football team, talent-wise. We had come so close the previous years, losing back-to-back championship games to the Packers, then in '68 in Cleveland and to the Browns again in '69. So, now we lost on a 32-yard field goal by O'Brien after he had missed an extra point earlier in the same game!
"Duane Thomas fumbled at their 1-yard line. I still remember (official) Jack Fette running over and giving the ball to the Colts. Dave Manders got up from the pile, handed him the football. He still pointed the other way, and gave them possession! Then there was the tipped pass off their receiver Eddie Hinton's hands. It bounced right to John Mackey and they got a touchdown!" (As he said this, Gil made a face that resembled the one spot in the universe where disgust and incredulity meet.)
The Cowboys go back-to-back by beating the Bills again.
22. Super Bowl XXVIII - Dallas Cowboys 30, Buffalo Bills 13 This Super Bowl rematch from the prior season wasn't as bad a game as everyone remembers. In fact, Buffalo led 13-6 at halftime. But from that point on, talent -- as well as some costly Bills turnovers -- decided the day. The Cowboys shut out the Bills 24-0 in the second half to win their second straight Super Bowl under Jimmy Johnson.
The Cowboys last time in the big game, it seems so far away now. The most valuable player was Larry Brown, but really should have been Steelers QB Neil O'Donnell (or his receivers).
18. Super Bowl XXX - Dallas Cowboys 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 17: Neil O'Donnell to Larry Brown. That's all this Super Bowl will be remembered for. Pittsburgh laid some wood in the second half, but the Steelers were let down by two bad throws -- or bad routes, depending on your perspective, of course. Either way, Dallas won its fifth Lombardi Trophy. The franchise has won just three playoff games since.
The first of the two iconic Cowboys vs. Steelers Super Bowls from the 70s. This one has one of the most revered plays in NFL history, the Lynn Swann catch over Mark Washington.
12. Super Bowl X - Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17: Gil Brandt's take: "Mark Washington had good coverage on the (Lynn) Swann plays. But really, the amazing thing about that game was the fact that only one player on both teams ever played for another team. One guy! It was Preston Pearson, who we picked up before the season. So out of 86 players on the field, or whatever, one had not been with that team his whole career. And here's the thing about that: The team Preston played for was Pittsburgh, the team we were playing. Can you imagine that happening today?"
Super Bowl X was perhaps the first fiercely contested Super Sunday, with Art Rooney getting his second Lombardi Trophy in two seasons after 40-plus with nary a championship.
And here we are, at #1. This game broke my heart as a youngster, all I remember is Jackie Smith dropping a wide-open touchdown that could have changed everything.
1. Super Bowl XIII - Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31: The great ones never lose, they just run out of time. That's what happened here to Roger Staubach, who overcame the most famous drop -- Jackie Smith's end-zone blunder -- in NFL history. This 35-31 contest had so many moments ... a strip-sack for a touchdown, the Smith drop, a big pass interference call on the Cowboys' Benny Barnes, a special teams fumble that turned the game around. And how about Terry Bradshaw's MVP performance?
Gil Brandt's take: "Super Bowl XIII, in my mind, was the most memorable of the Super Bowls. Those were two great football teams. We made mistakes. We had Randy White on the return team with a cast on, and then he fumbled the kickoff ... which really hurt us. Even though we lost, I would say Super Bowl XIII was the greatest Super Bowl."