The last time the Philadelphia Eagles were playing for the big prize was in 2005 in Super Bowl XXXIX against none other than the New England Patriots. The Eagles would lose that game 24-21, but now have an opportunity for a little payback. Will they be able to avenge their Super Bowl defeat?
Well, if history has told us anything, the answer to that question is - no.
Over the last 35 years, teams have squared off for a second Super Bowl contest three different times. And in each of those instances, the winner of the first game has won the second game - New York Giants over New England (2002), Dallas over Buffalo (1994), and San Francisco over Cincinnati (1989). There have been a couple successful revenge stories throughout the history of the league. The Cowboys were finally able to get their revenge over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX (1996), but that was attempt number three for them. The Steelers would beat Dallas twice in both their Super Bowl matchups in the ‘70s. In fact, the only team to emerge victorious in the second contest of a Super Bowl rematch is the Washington Redskins. In 1983 , the Redskins would beat the Miami Dolphins, 27-17 in Pasadena. This would avenge their loss ten years prior when the Dolphins beat them in Super Bowl VII, 14-7.
What is interesting about all five of these previous Super Bowl matchups is the Cowboys connection with all of them. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and see what we can dig up.
The Patriots have been a dominant team since the turn of the century, but for some reason Eli Manning and the Giants have had their number on the big stage. When the Giants beat the Patriots the first time they faced off, it would spoil New England’s perfect season. The Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season, which no team has ever done before. They would beat Jacksonville and San Diego (for those who can’t remember, there used to be an NFL team in San Diego) in the playoffs to go 18-0, but they just couldn’t get the one that matter the most. The Giants beat them 17-14 in Super Bowl 42.
Many Cowboys fans would tell you that it should have been us cheering on our team in the Super Bowl. Dallas would go 13-3 that season and have the number one seed in the NFC. Unfortunately the Giants beat the Cowboys 21-17 in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Tony Romo would throw a game-ending interception in the end zone as he was trying to complete the comeback and Terrell Owens would get emotional about it in a press conference after the game (VIDEO: “That’s my quarterback).
While it would have been better to avenge the Steelers losses in a more convincing fashion than Neil O’Donnell just throwing the game away, the Cowboys finally were able to do what no other team had done before - beat Pittsburgh in a Super Bowl.
The ‘70s matchups were pretty intense, especially Super Bowl XIII, where the Steelers won a wild one, 35-31. There were a lot of things that went wrong in that game for Dallas, from a Jackie Smith drop to a Randy White (who was wearing a cast) fumble on a squib kick. The game looked like it was going to be a rout, when Roger Staubach threw two late fourth-quarter touchdowns to make it close.
After a decade of decline in the ‘80s, the Cowboys emerged from the ashes to win three Super Bowls in the ‘90s. With help from the Hall of Fame triplets - Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin - the Cowboys would win back-to-back Super Bowls against the Buffalo Bills. For the Bills, they would lose an unprecedented four-straight Super Bowls. For Dallas, it was the icing on the cake for the tandem of Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones, who were able to take the team from 1-15 to Super Bowl Champions in three short years. Of course, the marriage would end abruptly as Johnson was dismissed as the Cowboys coach a month later.
That Super Bowl-winning squad consisted of head coach Jason Garrett, who was a third-string quarterback for the Cowboys. Also on that team was Cowboys defensive line coach Leon Lett, who will always be remembered for a couple epic late game gaffes. In Super Bowl 27, Lett picked up a fumble and ran 50 yards towards a touchdown, but had the ball knocked out of his hand right before he reached the end zone. The Cowboys blew out the Bills, 52-17 so it had no bearing on the game, but he squandered his one and only opportunity to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl. It would have also had given the Cowboys 59 points, which would be the most ever in a Super Bowl, surpassing San Francisco’s 55-point effort against the Denver Broncos a few years earlier.
San Francisco would beat the Cincinnati Bengals twice in the ‘80s. NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcaster Cris Collinsworth played in both of those games. The 49ers were the undisputed team of the ‘80s, winning four Super Bowls that decade. But it was the first one against the Bengals in 1982 that will linger with Cowboys fans forever.
Prior to their first Super Bowl appearance, Joe Montana and his 49ers defeated the Cowboys 28-27 in the NFC Championship. It was a back-and-forth affair featuring seven different lead changes, but it was the last one that stung the most. With less than a minute to go, Montana hit Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone in what will live in infamy as “The Catch.” The Cowboys still had a shot to get into game-winning field goal range and it was looking promising when Danny White hit Drew Pearson for deep slant that put them into 49ers territory. Unfortunately, White would fumble the ball on the next play and the Cowboys Super Bowl hopes were crushed.
I was 10-years-old and I physically cried when that happened. I was so upset that I couldn’t eat dinner that night. My mother thought something was wrong with me, but little did she realize I was just suffering from heartbreak from what would become, and still is the love of my life. The heart wants what the heart wants.
Joe Theisman and John Riggins would help their team get the better of the Dolphins the second time around. But before they reached the Super Bowl, they had to face off with the Cowboys in the NFC Championship. The Redskins would take care of business and win in convincing fashion, 31-17. Danny White would get knocked out of the game and backup quarterback Gary Hogeboom (who was on the TV show Survivor) would have to finish things out.
This would be the third consecutive NFC Championship loss for the Cowboys. It would also be the last season a Tom Landry led Cowboys team would win a playoff game. Landry would coach the team for six more seasons, only making the playoffs twice and losing both times (both to the Los Angeles Rams).
The Eagles will now have a chance to do something all three of their divisional rivals have done - win a Super Bowl rematch game. Of course all three of their divisional foes have won at least three Super Bowls and have a grand collective total of 12 Super Bowl wins. Philadelphia has none. Will they continue to be the black sheep of the division or can they finally get on the board with a little payback for the Patriots?