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Are the 1994 Dallas Cowboys the franchise’s best in team history not to win the Super Bowl?

It feels like the answer is yes.

NFC Conference Championship Game - Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

All week long we will be discussing notable teams in Dallas Cowboys history that did not win the Super Bowl in an effort to determine which is the best. Monday’s offering is perhaps the best... the 1994 Dallas Cowboys.

In trying to figure out what is the best Dallas Cowboys team that did not hoist a Lombardi Trophy, we are both fortunate and unfortunate that there are a lot of options. The reality is our favorite team has come close all too many times.

There are, of course, franchises that would gladly take the “misfortune” of only having five world championships in franchise history with drawers full of silver and bronze medals, but we all remember certain teams that should have or rather could have tasted victory but ultimately failed to do so.

While there are many of contenders, a few of which we will visit this week, it is possible that our first nominee (we are going in chronological order) is the true winner.

Are the 1994 Dallas Cowboys the best team in franchise history to not win the Super Bowl?

1994 Dallas Cowboys: 12-4 record, lost in NFC Championship Game

The Dallas Cowboys became a dynasty in the NFL when they won their third Super Bowl in four seasons following the 1995 season. For many of us, it was the time of our sports lives.

Three out of four obviously implies that there was a missed checkpoint along the way which is what happened in 1994. During the first season without head coach Jimmy Johnson, the Cowboys fell two wins short of achieving what nobody else had done, and still has not - win three consecutive Super Bowls.

Perhaps that is what makes this lost opportunity sit with such distaste in the memories of Cowboys fans. 1994 is viewed as a lost opportunity, but a self-induced one. Had Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson not gone their separate ways following the successful title defense in 1993 then who knows what the group as a whole could have accomplished together. This is a point that our own Tom Ryle offered up as well.

Tom Ryle: It is hard to argue that the 1994 squad is not hands down the team that best fits this description. It was sandwiched between the second Jimmy Johnson Super Bowl and Barry Switzer’s one, so the talent almost certainly was there. There can’t be any question that Johnson was head and shoulders above Switzer as a coach, either. Had Johnson stayed, or Jerry Jones made a different hire when he left, the Cowboys could have an almost unassailable four in a row.

The Cowboys managed to make it to the NFC Championship Game in Barry Switzer’s first season as head coach and found themselves at the site of Jimmy Johnson’s first championship game - Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Former 49ers quarterback Steven Young said on the NFL Films documentary America’s Game that chronicled their 1994 team that they specifically showed up to training camp to beat the Dallas Cowboys. It was a foregone conclusion in the NFL at that time that the two teams would meet in the game before “the game” as they had in the two years prior.

Dallas surrendered a 21-point lead in the game’s opening minutes which proved too steep of a mountain to climb against a very good team. They ultimately lost 38-28 after a heroic effort, ending their hopes of a third straight Super Bowl win.

The argument for 1994 is the talent all over the place for Dallas

While it took the 1994 team tasting defeat for the organization to add the elite talent of Deion Sanders, the squad was operating at the peak of their powers.

This team had the triplets, the great wall of Dallas (with a rookie named Larry Allen), and a defense headlined by Charles Haley and Darren Woodson. There were four future Pro Football Hall of Famers on offense, another on defense (not to mention the Ring of Honor’s Woody), and one in the owner’s box.

Obviously some names stand out above others when it comes to this roster, but it should be noted that this was the last season throughout this run that the Cowboys had wide receiver Alvin Harper. Free agency and the salary cap obviously affected things greatly for this group, what Harper was able to do in the postseason specifically was a big part of who they were. His name doesn’t hang inside of AT&T Stadium, but he serves as an example of how talented the overall group was.

We will revisit other notable Cowboys teams that ended their seasons without a parade, but few if any will challenge the collection of talent that the 1994 team had. There is a reason that this group was in pursuit of their third straight title and that they would go on to ultimately get their third a year later.

Perhaps what makes this team jump to the top of the list for many is the narrative involved in it all, too. This team presents the largest “what could have been” factor with the hypothetical of Dallas winning four straight titles, and getting bounced by the San Francisco 49ers of all teams served as salt in the wound that many people wish they could undo.


Are the 1994 Dallas Cowboys the best team in franchise history to not win the Super Bowl?

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