January 10, 1982, is the day it began. Most longtime Niners and Cowboys followers will level to at the present time as the beginning of a rivalry that lasted the higher a part of 20 years. The 1981 NFC championship recreation at Candlestick Park between the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys was the start of an period and, in some ways, signified the demise of one other.
That 1981-82 NFC championship recreation, which San Francisco received 28-27, is often known as “The Catch” recreation for Joe Montana’s game-winning TD move to Dwight Clark at the back of the top zone. It was Third-and-Three for Montana and the 49ers, on the Cowboys’ six-yard-line with 58-seconds left in regulation. Upon the snap, Montana rolled proper, nearly working out of bounds with a number of Dallas defenders bearing down on him earlier than launching the ball towards the top line of the endzone. Then Clark, like a thief within the evening, got here leaping from out of nowhere for the catch, cementing San Francisco’s first NFC championship victory and Tremendous Bowl look.
When you grew up within the Bay Space within the 1980s and ’90s, whether or not you’re a Niners fan or not, you’ve seen that play extra occasions than you’ll be able to keep in mind. The 49ers went on to win their first Tremendous Bowl that season, then one other three earlier than the top of the ’80s. San Francisco had stolen the NFC crown from Dallas after which dominated the 80s with honorable point out to the New York Giants, Washington (you understand), and the Chicago Bears. Washington received two whereas the Giants and Bears took one Lombardi trophy house apiece through the decade.
For Dallas, the demoralizing loss within the closing seconds of that championship recreation actually signified the top of a dynasty. The Cowboys did make it again to the NFC championship the next 12 months, however solely 9 video games had been performed that common season (‘82-83), so for some, there’s an asterisk subsequent to that season for everyone. Dallas wouldn’t make it again to the NFC title recreation till the 1992-93 season, the place they’d face off in opposition to the 49ers. The Cowboys and Niners performed in three consecutive NFC championship video games from 1992-95. The winner went on to win all three of these Tremendous Bowls.
One other facet of this rivalry that actually intensified issues within the ’90s was the variety of outstanding gamers that flip-flopped from one facet to the opposite within the midst of all of the unhealthy blood. After successful two rings with the 49ers within the 80s, exterior rusher Charles Haley was the primary big-name participant to depart for Dallas after the ’91-92 season, seemingly shifting the stability of energy within the NFC. Haley helped the Cowboys win back-to-back Tremendous Bowls in his first two years on the staff.
In ‘94, Ken Norton Jr. left Dallas for SF, and the Niners beat the Cowboys within the NFC title recreation en path to successful Tremendous Bowl quantity 5. However an much more vital acquisition that 12 months for the Niners was the signing of Deion Sanders. San Francisco had no reply for Cowboys star receiver Michael Irvin within the earlier two years. Irvin had repeatedly roasted Niners defensive backs, and they also went out and employed a mercenary to cope with Irvin. However the next 12 months, for causes that also aren’t fully clear, San Francisco allowed Sanders to turn out to be a free agent. So, after all, Jerry Jones being the opportunist he’s at all times been, swooped proper in and signed Prime Time to a seven-year, $35-million contract. On the time, it was remarkable for a cornerback to ink such a profitable deal. Permit me to place this in perspective for anybody below the age of 30. This transfer was about as impactful to the league as Kevin Durant becoming a member of the Golden State Warriors in 2016. That’s not hyperbole, it’s a reality. Deion going to Dallas shifted the highlight and energy dynamic again to Massive D.
Finally, as we acquired by that center a part of the 90s, the Inexperienced Bay Packers would sneak into the NFC combine because the Cowboys and 49ers light into the background. Everybody knew that the NFC would undergo both Dallas or San Francisco for practically half a decade. At the moment, the NFC championship recreation was seen because the “actual” Tremendous Bowl. Even going again to the 80s, it was nearly 20 years the place the NFC not solely received the Tremendous Bowl however normally blew out their AFC opponent regardless of who they confronted.
This Cowboys-Niners wildcard recreation Sunday is essential for therefore many causes. Not simply because the winner strikes one step nearer to the final word prize, however it’s additionally the primary time these franchises will sq. off within the postseason in a couple of quarter century. This recreation is essential to generations of Cowboys and Niners followers not simply within the Bay Space and Dallas but in addition throughout the nation. I’m positive this recreation will pull the best ranking of the weekend. There’s an excessive amount of historical past concerned with this recreation no to. I simply hope we get a fantastic battle like so a lot of these video games performed again within the day.