The San Francisco 49ers host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday in a game that may bring back some old memories to fans of the two squads.
Dallas and San Francisco famously met in three straight NFC Championship games from 1992 to ’94.
The Cowboys won two of the three meetings but their third encounter proved to be the rivalry’s zenith after the 1994 season.
Of course, the only thing that stood in their way (again) was the Dallas Cowboys. While Dallas brought many of the names from the two previous title game meetings, one major thing changed for the 1994 NFC title game.
Instead of Jimmy Johnson, who outcoached the Dockers off of George Seifert in two previous championship games, Dallas operated with the irascible Barry Switzer as their head coach.
Exchanging Johnson for Switzer proved to be a critical blow for the Cowboys on that January day in 1995. Typically composed, calculated, and prepared, Dallas appeared to be sloppy and disorganized for much third title tilt.
San Francisco led for much of the contest including building a 21-0 lead. However, Dallas rallied back in the second half.
As Dallas attempted to build a miraculous comeback trailing 38-28 in the fourth quarter, Troy Aikman launched a bomb intended for Michael Irvin inside of the 49ers 10.
Deion Sanders, one of many prized 49ers free-agent signings, broke up the pass intended for Irvin. However, the play became one of the most controversial plays in the series history.
It appeared Sanders was guilty of committing pass interference. Yet, no call was made on the field and Dallas eventually saw their dreams of a three-peat go up in smoke.
The 49ers finally got the better of Dallas, 38-28 and went on to win Super Bowl XXIX over the San Diego Chargers two weeks later.
Twenty years later, the Irvin/Sanders no-call remained a point of contention with the two principles.
During NFL Gameday Final in January 2015 (following another controversial call in a Cowboys playoff game), Irvin and Sanders renewed their conversation regarding the play. Dubbed “The Playmaker” by his teammates, Irvin still asserted Sanders committed pass interference; while Sanders contended he handled his business correctly.
While it’s a controversial play, it didn’t cause Dallas to lose by any stretch. The Cowboys trailed by 10 and did little to prove that they could stop the 49ers when it mattered. Yet, it’s an entertaining debate to have.
When Sunday rolls around, some of those memories may begin to flood back for people. Unfortunately, neither of the present-day 49ers or Cowboys currently stand close to becoming contenders.