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Throwback Thursday

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(Editor’s Note: The chaotic week that saw the Cowboys fire Wade Phillips, then name Jason Garrett the interim head coach, followed by a dramatic road win in New York has been illustrated in an EMMY-nominated documentary “Sunday at 4:15” (http://www.dallascowboys.com/video/2016/08/07/deep-blue-sunday-415)  as part of the Cowboys’ Deep Blue series.) Read

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When the Cowboys finally took the field Sunday at the Meadowlands, it had already been a crazy week for the team that fell to 1-7 and fired Wade Phillips, promoted Jason Garrett to head coach and had many other distractions, aside from just playing a good Giants football team. Read

But as Garrett warned his players, and the media members all week, none of that mattered to anyone else because “we’ve got a game to play Sunday at 4:15 in the Meadowlands. Nobody cares about what we’ve gone through. The Giants don’t really care. What we have to do is prepare ourselves to be ready to play when we kick off with the Giants at 4:15.” Read

When 4:15 rolled around, the Cowboys were definitely ready and played their best game of the year. Rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant scored an early touchdown but the turning point in the game occurred in the second quarter when rookie defensive back Bryan McCann, an SMU standout, picked off Eli Manning in the end zone and returned the ball 101 yards for a touchdown, which still stands as the longest interception return in Cowboys history. Read

The second half included a scary scene when the entire power at the stadium went out for several seconds. While most of the lights quickly returned, there was a portion of the lights that never came back on. The Cowboys scored on a 71-yard touchdown pass from Jon Kitna to Felix Jones that expanded a lead the Cowboys would never relinquish. Read

In the fourth quarter, safety Alan Ball picked off Manning in the end zone to seal the win as the Cowboys held on for the 33-20 win. Read

Garrett, who served as a backup quarterback for both the Cowboys and Giants, and grew up in New Jersey, picked up his first win. The Cowboys would eventually go 5-3 in the final eight games, which helped Garrett land the full-time head coaching positon in 2011.  Read

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For nearly three quarters, the Cowboys and Redskins looked like a pair of 5-10 teams just trying to get through the end of a dismal 2004 season. Read

Dallas led 6-3 with no scoring occurring in the third quarter at all. Read

But Washington scored the first touchdown of the game with just 6:44 to play when Patrick Ramsay hit Robert Royal for a 6-yard score to give the Redskins a 10-6 lead. Read

The Cowboys didn’t answer the bell immediately. With their next two possessions, the Cowboys were forced to punt and then turned it over on downs with 1:54 left. Read

But another great defensive stand by the Cowboys gave the offense one more chance. This time, veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde looked to rookie Patrick Crayton, who hadn’t even been targeted all day. But on fourth-and-10 from their own 25, the Cowboys got a 15-yard play to extend the game when Crayton came up with the clutch grab. That ignited a drive that went to Washington’s 39, where they faced a third-and-3. This time Testaverde sent Crayton down the right sideline where he beat the defense for a game-winning 39-yard touchdown. The Cowboys had a 13-10 lead with 30 seconds to play. Read

That was still enough time for Washington to get to the Cowboys’ 39 and attempt a 57-yard field goal. But Jeff Chandler’s kick to tie was no good, giving the Cowboys their sixth and final win of the game, but gave them another season sweep over the Redskins.  Read

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Enjoying a five-game winning streak, the Cowboys were riding high heading into a Sunday night matchup with the Eagles. Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, paired with fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott, were taking the NFL by storm. Read

But on this night, Dak and the offense waited for the final two drives of the game to get fully clicking. Fortunately, for the Cowboys, it was better late than never. Read

The Cowboys were getting close to falling behind by two scores midway through the fourth quarter, but a clutch third-down tackle by Sean Lee, kept the Eagles in front by a touchdown, and gave the ball back to Dak with a chance to tie the game. Read

While he needed 90 yards to the end zone, the rookie calmly went to work and engineered a 12-play drive that ended with a 22-yard touchdown to Dez Bryant to tie the score at 23. Read

Then in overtime, Dak and the Cowboys made sure the Eagles never touched the ball. Thanks to a big fourth-down conversion, the offense moved the ball to the 5, where Prescott avoided a sack and found Jason Witten in the end zone for the touchdown, giving the Cowboys the 29-23 win. Read

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Sometimes, it’s how you start. Sometimes, it’s how you finish. Read

And sometimes, such as the case in the Cowboys’ 2006 win over the Falcons, it can be both. Read

Dallas raced out to a 14-0 lead, and then after falling behind 28-21 in the third quarter, reeled off the final 17 points to not only close out the Falcons for a 38-28 win, but an even bigger goal as well. Read

The Cowboys clinched  a playoff berth for the first time in three years, improving to 9-5. The Cowboys would eventually finish 9-7 and earn an NFC Wild Card Spot. Read

But the Cowboys got off to a fast start thanks to a touchdown by Terrell Owens and then an amazing interception by DeMarcus Ware, who snatched the ball in mid-air from Michael Vick, and then outraced him to the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown. Read

Vick led the Falcons back with four touchdown passes, including a short scoring strike to Justin Griffith that gave Atlanta the 28-21 lead early in the third. Read

But Romo switched the attack to a ground game that featured Marion Barber, who scored a pair of touchdowns to put the Cowboys in the lead for good. Read

The Cowboys defense locked it down in the second half, totaling four sacks, including 1.5 from rookie linebacker Bobby Carpenter.  Read

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The last time the Chiefs came to Dallas, the dirt hadn’t even been moved yet on AT&T Stadium and Tony Romo hadn’t even taken a snap from center. Read

It was 2005 and Texas Stadium was rocking with a back-and-forth affair that went down to the final seconds. Read

Drew Bledsoe engineered not only a second-half comeback but a last-minute drive in what proved to be an exciting 31-28 win for the Cowboys. His 1-yard TD pass to tight end Dan Campbell was the seventh lead-change in the game. Read

Kansas City got in position for a game-tying kick but Lawrence Tynes just missed the 41-yard field goal. Read

The Chiefs got out to a 14-3 lead, thanks to the hard-nosed running of Larry Johnson. But Bledsoe and the Cowboys got back in the game, thanks to a 71-yard flea-flicker pass to Terry Glenn. Jason Witten also caught go-ahead touchdown but the two teams traded punches in the second half before Bledsoe’s final drive gave the Cowboys the lead for good. Read

Bledsoe passed for 332 yards and three touchdowns for a 126.1 rating.  Read

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If you love points, entertainment and suspense, the 1999 season opener was as good as it gets. Read

The Cowboys kicked off the season in Washington D.C. and by the start of the fourth quarter, there were plenty of verses of “Hail to the Redskins” to go around. Washington led 35-14 and looked on its way to a blowout win. Read

But Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin had other ideas. The Triplets went to work, with Smith cutting into the lead with a short touchdown run early in the fourth. Irvin, who had been rather quiet most of the day, got into the act with a 37-yard touchdown with 3:51 to play. And the defense finally gave the Cowboys a stop, giving the ball back to Aikman, who engineered a 90-yard drive that ended with another Irvin score – this time of 12 yards to tie the game. Read

The Redskins nearly won it at the end of regulation but a botched field goal snap saved the day for the Cowboys, who got the ball after another defensive stop in overtime. Read

From there, the new guy made his presence felt. Rocket Ismail won the game with a 76-yard touchdown from Aikman, who finished the day with 362 yards and five touchdowns. Read

The 21-point comeback was the largest in team history before the Cowboys matched that in 2014 in a game against the Rams. Read

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Many Cowboys fans have seen a clip from this game, but not one that tells the actual outcome. Known more for the time when Larry Allen grabbed kicker Jose Cortez by the facemask after a missed extra point, the Cowboys had some work to do to come back after a slow start. Read

The 49ers used an 89-yard touchdown to Brandon Lloyd and then a 34-yard interception return by Tony Parrish, who later played briefly for the Cowboys, to build a 21-6 advantage. Read

However, Drew Bledsoe and the offense went to work in the second half. Trailing by 12 heading into the fourth, Bledsoe engineered a scoring drive that ended with Julius Jones’ 1-yard run. And then in the final minutes, Bledsoe hit Keyshawn Johnson for a clutch 14-yard touchdown, followed by a successful 2-point conversion to grab the 34-31 lead. Read

The 49ers, quarterbacked by Tim Rattay, tried to make one last rally, but linebacker Dat Nguyen picked off a pass to seal the win. It was the Cowboys’ first regular season win in San Francisco in nine previous seasons. Read

On another side note, the road game was one of the few in Cowboys history in which the team didn’t return home immediately afterwards. In fact, the team stayed the entire week in the Bay Area, to practice and prepare for another road game with the Raiders. Read

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It was a Thursday night showdown between two of the best teams in the NFL as the Packers and Cowboys met at Texas Stadium with identical 10-1 records. Read

But the night didn’t exactly go as planned, at least for the Packers, who lost Brett Favre early in the game due to injury. But the young Aaron Rodgers showed why he was a first-round pick, taking over with 201 passing yards and two scores. He brought the Packers back from a 27-10 deficit and had his team in position before Tony Romo and the Cowboys regained momentum again. Read

Romo’s TD pass to Patrick Crayton, followed by a game-clinching field goal from rookie kicker Nick Folk, put the game away in the fourth quarter for a 37-27 win. Read

Earlier in the game, Terrell Owens made good on his famous press conference quote from the previous season when he signed with the team in march, warning fans to “Get you popcorn ready because it’s gonna be a show.” Read

True to his word, Owens was handed a cup of popcorn after scoring a touchdown and dumped it into his facemask in the end zone, creating a lasting visual as one of T.O.’s most memorable celebrations. Owens had a memorable game on the field as well, catching seven passes for 156 yards. Read

The Cowboys won the game and established control for home-field advantage in the playoffs, despite losing their first game to the Giants in the NFC Divisional round. Read

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The 2007 home game against the Rams will be remembered more for a 4-yard run from Tony Romo, but his go-to receiver Terrell Owens played it up for the cameras of NFL Films throughout the game. Read

Check out T.O.’s conversations with Romo and fellow receiver Patrick Crayton, who was the beneficiary of the Rams’ coverage on Owens, who had just three for 33 yards. But it was Crayton that went off, catching seven balls for a career-high 184 yards and two scores. One of his touchdowns was overshadowed by the blazing speed of Owens, who caught up to Crayton to throw a goal-line block. Read

The Cowboys easily beat the Rams 35-7 to improve to 4-0 on a season they would eventually finish 13-3. Read

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When the Cowboys boarded the plane for Arizona on Sunday afternoon at the end of the 1995 season, the optimism wasn’t too high for the upcoming playoffs. Read

The Cowboys had already lost to the 49ers badly at home and expected that a return trip to the Super Bowl would run through San Francisco again. But as they flew to face the Cardinals on Monday Night, word spread around the plane the 49ers had lost to the Falcons in their Week 17 game, opening the door for the Cowboys to obtain the No. 1 seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout he playoffs. Read

The only obstacle in their way was the Cardinals. And that didn’t prove to be much of a fight as the Cowboys trounced Arizona with a combined attack of Emmitt Smith and Kevin Williams, and even got some defensive help as well. Read

Smith set an NFL record for most rushing touchdowns in a season with his 25th score, while Williams had a career night, catching nine passes for 203 yards and two scores from Troy Aikman, who had 350 yards. Read

Brock Marion had an interception return for a touchdown as the Cowboys built up a 24-0 first-half lead. Read

The win propelled the Cowboys to a 12-4 record and the top spot in the NFC, where they handled the Eagles and Packers in the playoffs before beating the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX for their third title in a four-year span.  Read

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It’s been 25 seasons since the Cowboys won a regular-season game in Denver. And on a brisk, December afternoon at the old Mile-High Stadium, the upstart Cowboys needed every minute of the clock to stage a late-game comeback for the 31-27 win. Read

It was yet another exciting victory for a Cowboys team that eventually marched its way to Super Bowl XXVII, the first in a four-year span. Read

But they needed clutch victories like this one, which saw the Cowboys lose a second-half lead, only to mount a drive for the ages. Read

The Broncos, playing without regular starter John Elway because of injury, actually rotated quarterbacks on alternate plays into the third quarter. Tommy Maddox and Shawn Moore each had exactly 104 passing yards, although Maddox had three TD passes and four interceptions. However, it was a wide receiver pass from Arthur Marshall in the fourth quarter that resulted in an 81-yard go-ahead touchdown for the Broncos, who led 24-21. Read

That’s when Troy Aikman and Jay Novacek went to work. The tight end had 87 yards for the day, including 50 receiving yards on that last drive alone but it was Michael Irvin’s clutch 14-yard reception to the Denver 11 that extended the drive on third-and-long. From there, it was another third-down conversion that proved to be the difference as the Cowboys surprised Denver with a draw-play from the 4. Emmitt Smith slid his way past defenders into the end zone as the Cowboys led 31-27. Read

While the Broncos neared midfield, Charles Haley put the game away with a sack and constant pressure that led to Kenneth Gant’s game-clinching interception. Read

The win pushed the Cowboys’ record to 11-2 as they would finish 13-3 en route to their first Super Bowl title in 15 years, which ironically occurred at the Broncos in Super Bowl XII. Read

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Coming off a 12-win season that ended with a disappointing and controversial playoff loss in Green Bay, the Cowboys didn’t have a fast start against the Giants to start the 2015 season. Read

The national audience of Sunday Night Football saw a New York defense stifle Tony Romo and the offense, which suffered a major blow when Dez Bryant left the game with a broken foot that sidelined him for nearly half of the season. Read

Still, the Cowboys defense kept themselves in the game by holding the Giants to field goals on a couple of possession, especially in the final minutes. The Giants had to settle for a field goal to keep the Cowboys within six, giving Romo one more attempt to win the game. Read

Like a master chef, Romo carved up the Giants’ defense, even without Dez. He used Cole Beasley and Lance Dunbar, who had 10 catches, on short underneath routes while Terrance Williams and Jason Witten worked the middle. Read

On third-and-2 from the Giants’ 11, Romo handled a low shotgun snap to find Witten in the end zone for the game-tying touchdown with just seven seconds left to cap off a 72-yard drive in just six plays. Dan Bailey finished off the Giants with the go-ahead extra point, giving the Cowboys the 27-26 win. Read

As it turned out, it was one of only two games Romo would play start to finish in 2015. He suffered a broken collarbone in Week 2 against the Eagles and returned in mid-November to play against the Dolphins before re-injuring the collarbone on Thanksgiving Day in a loss to Carolina. The Cowboys won just four games, but it would always be hard to top Romo’s heroics to open the 2015 season vs. the Giants.  Read

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Having to travel on a short week is tough for any team. Buy early on in the 2006 Thanksgiving Day game, the Buccaneers looked like worthy opponents for the Cowboys, driving for an early touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Read

But that would be the only advantage Tampa would have all day. Tony Romo made sure of that. Read

In his fifth start since taking over as the No. 1 quarterback, Romo put on a show in front of the national audience, tossing a career-best five touchdown passes. Read

Terry Glenn caught the first two, giving the Cowboys a first-quarter lead. Marion Barber caught two more and even Terrell Owens got in on the scoring fun, catching a seven-yard pass in the third quarter. Read

When it was all over, the Cowboys cruised to a 38-10 win over the Bucs, improving their all-time series record over Tampa Bay to 9-3, but it snapped a three-game losing streak to the Buccaneers. Read

Romo improved to 4-1 as a starter as the Cowboys, once 3-3, were now 8-5 and closing in on a playoff spot. The Cowboys eventually finished 10-6 and earned a Wild Card berth. Read

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In 2006, Tony Romo’s first season as the starting quarterback, the Cowboys’ franchise had been rejuvenated with a shot at making the playoffs finally at stake. Read

But the Giants stood in the way in an early-December meeting up in the Meadowlands. The Cowboys held a one-game lead on the Giants, who were both chasing the Eagles in the NFC East standings. Read

The Cowboys were rolling on offense and defense but special teams was an issue as the club had to waive struggling kicker Mike Vanderjagt. Veteran Martin Gramatica was signed but the Cowboys never realized he would be called upon to be the hero in his first game. Read

A back-and-forth struggle took place at Giants Stadium but Marion Barber powered the Cowboys into the lead with a 7-yard touchdown run with 3:33 to play for his second score of the game. The Cowboys led 20-13 but saw Eli Manning march his offense down the field for a game-tying touchdown when he connected with Plaxico Burress with 1:07 remaining. Read

But that was still plenty of time for Romo, who found his trusted tight end Jason Witten for a 42-yard gain down the middle of the field to get the Cowboys in position to win the game. All Gramatica had to do was hit the field goal from 42 yards out.  Read

At this point, nothing was a sure thing for the Cowboys, who had thought they were erasing their kicking problems by signing Vanderjagt before the season started, considering he was once the NFL’s most accurate kicker of all time. But he had already missed five field goals, including two in a game against the Colts, his former team. That prompted Bill Parcells to make the switch to Gramatica, who had the entire Cowboys Nation on his side as he attempted to win the game in his Cowboys debut. Read

He had already made two of three attempts in the game, but this 46-yard attempt sailed right through the uprights with one second remaining, giving the Cowboys a much-needed victory to improve to 8-4 on the season. They would finish 10-6 and earn their first playoff berth since 2003. Read