Countdown | Play 88: Best of the 88 Club
It's impossible to list just a single play for the No. 88. So why not a few from some of the best. From Irvin's game-changing TD in the Super Bowl, to Drew Pearson's first clutch playoff moment, to a pair of unreal catches from Dez and CeeDee, here are some of the great plays that you might not see later on this countdown of great moments.
Countdown | Play 24: Antonio Bryant GW Touchdown
The Play: The Cowboys found themselves down 13-0 with just under five minutes remaining in their Oct. 13, 2002, game at the Carolina Panthers when second-year quarterback Quincy Carter finally found a spark. Three plays into Dallas' next possession, he hit Joey Galloway on an 80-yard bomb for his team's first score of the day.
After the Cowboys defense forced a punt, Carter and the offense then took over at their own 33-yard line with 2:48 remaining in the game. He marched Dallas down the field, but after a false-start penalty, a 1-yard gain and two incompletions, the Cowboys faced fourth-and-14 at the Panthers' 24-yard line with 1:03 left on the clock.
Carter would loft a pass up to Antonio Bryant, who leapt high and then juggled the ball on the way down before corralling it as he fell into the end zone. The play was reviewed, but the 24-yard touchdown stood, and with the extra point, the Cowboys had an unlikely, 14-13, come-from-behind victory.
He would be sacked six times in the game and have only 77 yards passing before those final two Cowboys series, but when the team needed him most, Carter was there.
Countdown | Play 27: Romo to Dez Go-Ahead TD
The Play: Tony Romo's fourth-quarter, 27-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant — and the Cowboys' eventual 20-19 victory over the Bengals on Dec. 9, 2012 — was insignificant compared to the horrific tragedy the team experienced the day before. Jerry Brown Jr., a cornerback on the practice squad, was killed in a car accident hours before the team's road trip to Cincinnati. The Cowboys dedicated their win over the Bengals to Brown.
Countdown | Play 28: Michael Irvin GW Touchdown
The Play: After missing more than half of the 1989 season with a knee injury, Michael Irvin needed to show his teammates, coaches and maybe even himself that he was fully back. That moment occurred late in a comeback win in 1990 over the Bucs. Troy Aikman engineered a late drive that ended in Irvin's 28-yard touchdown in the final seconds at Tampa Bay.
Countdown | Play 29: Newhouse Halfback Pass
The Play: The Cowboys' Doomsday Defense was the main reason they won Super Bowl XII – the second title in franchise history. But there were some big plays by the offense, including the game-clinching touchdown in the second half. Fullback Robert Newhouse surprised the Broncos with this halfback pass to Golden Richards for a 29-yard touchdown to help seal the day for the Cowboys, who cruised to a 27-10 win.
Countdown | Play 30 Emmitt Smith TD vs ATL
The Play: Sure, Emmitt Smith ran behind one of the greatest blocking units in NFL history, but not all his NFL-record 18,355 career rushing yards came easy. A perfect example: his rugged 30-yard touchdown run against the Atlanta Falcons in 1992, bouncing off multiple tacklers in the backfield before finding open turf down the right sideline for the score.
Countdown | Play 31: Emmitt's OT Game-Winner
The Play: Playing on the road against the Vikings in Week 3 of the 1995 season, the Cowboys held a slim 17-10 lead over Minnesota before Warren Moon hit Cris Carter for an 8-yard touchdown late in the fourth to force overtime. Dallas would win the coin toss and received the ball, working their way down the field before Emmitt Smith ripped off a 31-yard run to serve as a highlight of the Cowboys third Super Bowl winning season of the 1990s.
Countdown | Play 32: Cole Beasley Go-Ahead TD
The Play: Trailing late in the fourth quarter during Week 17 during the 2018 season, the Cowboys were down to their final attempt on a 4th and 15 against the Giants. Needing a miracle, Dallas looked to Dak Prescott to complete a miracle throw for a go-ahead touchdown and he delivered with the help of Cole Beasley. Prescott rolled to his left to avoid pressure, firing a ball across his body and found a diving Beasley for the 32-yard score that stood after review to seal the win.
Countdown | Play 33: Jay Novacek Hurdlers Defender
The Play: A great athlete in his day at many sports, perhaps Jay Novacek was a hurdler during his earlier days. He scored a 33-yard touchdown against the Chiefs in 1995 on Thanksgiving Day, after hurdling a defender in the open field en route of the end zone.
Countdown | Play 35: CeeDee Lamb GW Touchdown
The Play: The Cowboys had lost their last three trips to Foxborough, Mass. coming into their Week 6 clash with the Patriots last season. They entered the matchup with a strong 4-1 record, though it was quickly in jeopardy with a late Patriots' rally in the fourth quarter that forced Dallas into overtime. New England was forced to punt after winning the coin toss, allowing Dak Prescott to orchestrate a drive that ended with him rolling out find CeeDee Lamb for a 35-yard touchdown pass for the win.
Countdown | Play 36: Jason Witten's First TD
The Play – Jason Witten finished his illustrious career with 72 touchdowns. But you can't get to 72 without No. 1, and his first NFL touchdown occurred in 2003. Witten caught a pass over the middle from Quincy Carter against the Giants. The 36-yard touchdown was his only score of his rookie season. The next 71 occurred over the next 15 seasons.
Countdown | Play 37: Randal Williams Kick Return
The Play – Fool me once, shame on me. But fool me twice? That was going to happen, and Bill Parcells, special teams coach Bruce DeHaven and of course, Randal Williams, didn't allow it. Just three years earlier, the Eagles started the 2000 season with an onside kick surprise to open the game in a win over the Cowboys. But in 2003, they tried it again but this time, the Cowboys were ready. Williams jumped the gun on David Akers' onside attempt and caught the ball off the bounce at the 37. The speedy receiver had an open lane to the end zone and raced in for a score, which is still considered the fastest TD scored in NFL history.
Countdown | Play 38: Carter to Galloway Touchdown
The Play – The Cowboys were coming off an embarrassing Week 1 loss to the expansion Houston Texans, but they were able to beat the former Houston team in Week 2, outlasting the Titans at home. A big play in the second half was Quincy Carter's 38-yard strike to veteran Joey Galloway, which led to the XXX win.
Countdown | Play 39: Testaverde to Crayton GW TD
The Play – The Cowboys looked down and out during a 2004 home game against Washington. But with one last drive, veteran Vinny Testaverde hooked up with rookie receiver Patrick Crayton, who got behind the defense to catch a 39-yard touchdown that propelled Dallas to a last-second 13-10 victory at Texas Stadium.
Countdown | Play 40: Tony Pollard Touchdown Run
The Play – Tony Pollard got the start in place of an injured Ezekiel Elliott against the 49ers in 2020 and made the most of it. His highlight play was a dazzling 40-yard touchdown in which he broke a few tackles en route to the end zone.
Countdown | Play 42: Trevon Diggs Pick-Six
The Play: Cowboys fans saw just how electrifying Trevon Diggs could in 2021 during his third season in the NFL. After all, he led the league in interceptions with 11 and set the franchise record for most interceptions in a season. But it was Week 6 against the Patriots where Diggs really left his mark. With Dallas trailing late in the fourth quarter, Diggs jumped Kendrick Bourne's route on a Mac Jones pass before taking it 42 yards for the touchdown to give the Cowboys a late lead in a game they'd eventually win in overtime.
Countdown | Play 44: Tony Pollard Touchdown Run
The Play: Tony Pollard has the speed, which is why Cowboys fans are wanting him to get more touches in 2022. While that is likely to happen, it's run like this one in 2019 – his rookie year – that showed his electrifying potential. Pollard ripped off a 44-yard run in a blowout win over the Rams, one of many long-range touchdowns that has become a staple in Pollard's game.
Countdown | Play 45: Troy Aikman to Alvin Harper
The Play: The Cowboys' first Super Bowl title of the 1990s is best remembered as a blowout win over the Bills, but Buffalo actually showed signs of a comeback in the second half, cutting the deficit to 14. That was until Alvin Harper's 45-yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter. Harper – a viable deep threat and a perfect complement to Hall of Famer Michael Irvin – beat Bills cornerback James Williams down the right sideline and Troy Aikman hit him in stride for the score, capped by Harper's celebratory dunk over the goalpost. The Cowboys never looked back, winning Super Bowl XXVII 52-17.
Countdown | Play 46: Roy William Pick-Six
The Play: The Cowboys' chances of winning this Monday Night game in Philadelphia seemed rather bleak late in the fourth quarter. It seemed this would be yet another crushing blow to head coach Bill Parcells, who had already attended his brother's funeral earlier that day in New Jersey. But the Cowboys pulled out some fourth-quarter magic, scoring a touchdown that cut the Philly lead to 20-14. And then, safety Roy Williams jumped in front of Donovan McNabb's sideline pass at the 46-yard line, and scampered down the sidelines for a dramatic touchdown, lifting the Cowboys to a 21-20 win. After the game, Williams presented his coach with the game ball and it was relayed to Parcells that his brother, a college football player at Army, wore No. 31, the same number as Williams, who won the game with his pick-six.
Countdown | Play 43: Tony Romo Avoids J.J. Watt
The Play – The Cowboys' chances of winning this Monday Night game in Philadelphia seemed rather bleak late in the fourth quarter. It seemed this would be yet another crushing blow to head coach Bill Parcells, who had already attended his brother's funeral earlier that day in New Jersey. But the Cowboys pulled out some fourth-quarter magic, scoring a touchdown that cut the Philly lead to 20-14. And then, safety Roy Williams jumped in front of Donovan McNabb's sideline pass at the 46-yard line, and scampered down the sidelines for a dramatic touchdown, lifting the Cowboys to a 21-20 win. After the game, Williams presented his coach with the game ball and it was relayed to Parcells that his brother, a college football player at Army, wore No. 31, the same number as Williams, who won the game with his pick-six.
Countdown | Play 47: Deion Sanders Catch
The Play: Super Bowl XXX is known for a lot of things – most notably being the last time the Cowboys have won the Lombardi Trophy. But it was the game that Dallas avenged two earlier Super Bowl losses to the Steelers. The game Larry Brown found himself with two interceptions and the MVP. And the game, in which Deion Sanders lined up on offense, showing off not only his amazing versatility, but speed and hands. He hauled in a 47-yard bomb from Troy Aikman in the first quarter that led to an early touchdown. That play helped prompt the Cowboys to use Sanders as a starting wide receiver the following year – making him the first two-way player since the 60's.
Countdown | Play 48: Emmitt Smith TD Run
The Play: Week 12 of the 1990 season included one of the early shining moments of Emmitt Smith's legendary career. With time winding down in the fourth quarter, the 5-7 Cowboys were looking to run out the clock on a victory over Washington and hold on to a three-point lead. A young Smith had other plans as he squeezed through the line of scrimmage and put future Hall of Famer Darrell Green on skates for a 48-yard touchdown run. It was the longest touchdown run of his AP Rookie of the Year season.
Countdown | Play 49: Miles Austin Go-Ahead TD
The Play: In a huge division game between the Cowboys and Eagles in 2009, Tony Romo broke a 13-13 tie in the fourth quarter with a clutch pass to Miles Austin, who hadn't caught a ball all night. But the pump-and-go froze the Eagles secondary and put Austin wide open in the secondary, where he would cut into the middle of the field for the remaining yards of a go-ahead 49-yard touchdown in the eventual 20-16 win.
Countdown | Play 50: The Hail Mary
The Play: With a wind chill of just 17 degrees, the Cowboys traveled to Minnesota just three days after Christmas to take on the Vikings in the 1975 NFC Divisional round as a heavy underdog. Dallas was shut out in the first half, trailing 7-0 going to the third quarter. The Cowboys would mount a comeback, with a touchdown in the third and 10 more in the fourth, including a 50-yard touchdown pass from Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson to seal the win. Dallas would advance to the NFC Championship, and actually Super Bowl X against the Steelers.