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Mailbag: Top Dal-SF Memory? Offense or Defer?


With the history of these two teams, what are some of your favorite games, plays, or memories from this rivalry? – JONATHAN CAGLEY / WEST VALLEY, UT

David: I'm afraid I'm a little on the young side, so my memories of the 90s are pretty fuzzy. I'll always remember where I was the day that George Teague knocked Terrell Owens off the star at midfield. Even as a young kid who didn't grow up a Cowboy fan, I realized at the time how cool and significant that was. One of the many great things about this job has been getting to learn about those games from people who played in them. It turns out, it's pretty cool when guys like Nate Newton and Charles Haley walk through your office on a regular basis.

Nick: I honestly think my first memory of football was "The Catch" game but I definitely remember the battles in the 90s. I'll never forget the coolest line I've ever heard on TV came from Pat Summerall when he read the intro to the 1994 NFC Championship Game. Everyone knew that game – full of superstars – would ultimately determine the champion. Summerall said: "In two weeks, the Super Bowl will be played, after that the Pro Bowl ... today, we'll play both." I love that line and it was so true. But my favorite play in Cowboys history is when Alvin Harper took it 72 yards in the NFC Championship Game. Everything about that play just described how the Cowboys operated in the 90s. But if I could go back and change history, I'd call P.I. on Deion in the 1994 game and see how that final five minutes played out. Great, great rivalry and I bet this game will be another chapter.

Conventional wisdom says to defer to the second half if you win the toss. With the matchup becoming much more favorable if the 49ers have to throw the ball, do you think McCarthy is giving thought to receiving the opening kick in hopes of getting out to an early lead? – BOBBY MITCHELL / BALTIMORE, MD

David: I see the logic, but I think there's just too many variables at play. Perhaps you lose the ball on a bad bounce on that first possession of the game, and now you've changed the way the second half plays out based on a handful of snaps at the start of the game. Assuming they win the toss, I'd prefer to trust that the defense can start out with some intensity in what is sure to be an incredibly rowdy environment.

Nick: Here's what I can't get out of my head – if the 49ers go into halftime with a seven-point lead, I would hate to see them come out in the second half and run the ball with a 7-8 minute drive that ends in either field goal or a touchdown. That would put the Cowboys down by two scores and that's not what you want against the 49ers. I think no matter the score, I would prefer to have the ball in the third quarter. Sure, getting an early lead would be nice, but I just know that place will be rocking come 3:30 on Sunday. So kicking off to the 49ers, it'll probably be harder for them to operate on offense than it'll be coming out of the halftime when most people aren't in their seats yet.

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