The Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys have been NFC East rivals since 1970, from air guitars to turncoat wide receivers to pickle juice. Both franchises have seen their fair share of glory in great rivalry moments.

Eagles-Cowboys Rivalry

The moniker of the Cowboys as “America’s Team” has never sat well in Philadelphia. It’s a fan base that identifies as the tough, unforgiving crowd that creates a hostile environment as the irreplaceable element of home-field advantage. The clash has created one of the most bitter rivalries in the NFL.

The venom against the Dallas Cowboys is as old as Philadelphia fandom itself. The underdog complex developed while the Cowboys built dynasties in the 1970s and the 1990s.

The bravado of Dallas fans living in the Philadelphia area doesn’t allow Eagles fans to drop the bitterness for their nemeses even when the rivalry on the field doesn’t have the highest level of intensity.

There’s a reason a team that plays in Texas stayed in the NFC East when the NFL realigned divisions in 2002. The rivalry factor between the Eagles and Cowboys was too advantageous for television appeal and natural drama. Two more major East Coast markets in New York and Washington were equally as important draws.

The rivalry will live on as long as people watch the NFL.

Rivalry Eras: Andy Reid Seizes Control 

The optimism for a new era began under Andy Reid in 1999. Donovan McNabb became the franchise quarterback that could keep the Eagles in contention consistently through the early 2000s. Eagles fans know “The Pickle Juice Game” against the Cowboys was the real turning point.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, struggled to replace world-class talent like Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin. Their revolving door of quarterbacks and head coaches kept them from finding any stability. It wasn’t until undrafted free agent Tony Romo emerged that the Cowboys even reentered the conversation as NFC East contenders.

Philadelphia fans heard endlessly about the five Super Bowl rings their arch-rivals boasted before the turn of the century. The era of Veterans Stadium created the rivalry heat, but the era at Lincoln Financial Field has flipped the script of success.

97.5 The Fanatic has put together a comprehensive history of the best Eagles-Cowboys memories in the rivalry’s history.

  • The Pick Juice Game

    September 3, 2000: Eagles 41, Cowboys 14

    The Cowboys owned the rivalry during the 1990s. They slipped as their core of Super Bowl heroes approached the end of their careers while Andy Reid and the Eagles worked their way into a new era.

    The bold announcement of the changing of the guard came in Dallas on Labor Day Weekend in 2000. Reid stunned the Cowboys with an onside kick on the first play of the season. Donovan McNabb took the ball up the field for a 7-0 lead and the upper hand in the rivalry. Duce Staley ran all over Texas Stadium for 262 yards from scrimmage.

    The Eagles stayed hydrated in the Texas heat with pickle juice, an unusual idea from trainer Rick Burkholder. The legend was born.

    Duce Staley, Philadelphia Eagles

  • A Statement on Monday Night Football

    November 15, 2004: Eagles 49, Cowboys 21

    The 2004 Eagles stormed out of the gates with a dominant 7-0 record. The upstart Pittsburgh Steelers stunned them at Heinz Field and sucked the confidence right out of Philadelphia. A good old-fashioned butt-kicking in Dallas was the perfect medicine.

    Terrell Owens faced the Cowboys for the first time in an Eagles uniform. He opened the game with a 59-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a lead they would never let up. He torched the helpless Dallas secondary for six receptions, 134 yards, and three touchdowns.

    His pregame segment with Nicollette Sheridan on the national broadcast somehow stole all the attention.

    Donovan McNabb handled the Dallas defense with a highlight-reel scramble and a 60-yard bomb to Freddie Mitchell. The Eagles got back on track with a 49-21 blowout.

    Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens of the Philadelphia Eagles

  • Donovan McNabb Locks Up Home Field Advantage

    December 19, 2004: Eagles 12, Cowboys 7

    T.O. was larger than life during the 2004 season, and his first game against Dallas couldn’t have gone any smoother. The Philadelphia crowd entered the afternoon expecting the Eagles to clinch the top seed in the NFC with an easy win over a flimsy 5-8 opponent. The memorable first impression led to a gasp of disbelief at the Linc when the star wide receiver went down with an ankle injury in Week 15.

    Roy Williams pulled Owens to the ground on a play that helped push the NFL to create the horse-collar penalty. The NFC Championship Game jinx had devastated the Eagles, and it seemed impossible that the overwhelming NFC favorites might’ve lost their best offensive weapon.

    The Cowboys stifled a confused offense. They led the Eagles 7-6 when Donovan McNabb took the ball with just over six minutes left. If Philadelphia fans want to question McNabb’s killer instinct, they must also acknowledge a less-celebrated memory.

    McNabb began an evolution into a pocket passer in 2004, but he showed he could still use his legs when it mattered. He ignored the disadvantage of an underwhelming cast of weapons that had failed him in previous playoff runs. He took the ball himself for 31 yards rushing on key plays that set up a game-winning touchdown drive. 

    The best quarterback in franchise history responded at a time when his team needed to escape with a win. He got them the touchdown, secured two weeks of rest in meaningless games, and guaranteed home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.

    Donovan McNabb was not the perfect leader, teammate, or quarterback. However, he has his fair share of forgotten performances that deserve recognition.

  • T.O. Returns to Philly

    October 8, 2006: Eagles 38, Cowboys 24

    The goodwill and fanfare for T.O. disappeared quickly in 2005 when the star wide receiver engaged in some of the most childish antics you’ll ever see from a professional athlete. He poured salt on the wounds of Philadelphia fans by signing with the Cowboys after the Eagles released him.

    His return to Philadelphia inevitably became the most hyped game of the season. 

    McNabb threw for 354 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-24 Eagles victory. The defense held Owens to just three receptions for 45 yards.

    Cornerback Lito Sheppard made the most memorable play of the day when he denied a Dallas comeback attempt by intercepting Drew Bledsoe in the Eagles end zone in a seven-point game in the final minute. The return for 102 yards and a touchdown emphatically sealed Philadelphia’s revenge.

    Terrell Owens of the Dallas Cowboys against the Philadelphia Eagles

  • The 44-6 Bloodbath

    December 28, 2008: Eagles 44, Cowboys 6

    The 2008 season encapsulated the roller coaster of the Andy Reid era. The Eagles started 5-3, but they slipped to 5-5-1 in an ugly loss that pushed Reid to bench McNabb for Kevin Kolb. Three straight wins after McNabb retook the field gave hope. A bad loss at Washington destroyed the hope. The ups and downs were nauseating.

    Remarkable and unexpected help from the 4-11 Oakland Raiders and the 7-8 Houston Texans resurrected hope. The Eagles suddenly had a chance to clinch a Wild Card berth in a virtual play-in at the Linc against the Cowboys.

    The Eagles exposed Tony Romo by forcing five turnovers and scoring two defensive touchdowns. The 44-6 bloodbath put the league on notice of the Eagles as a playoff opponent nobody wanted to face.

    Brian Dawkins, Philadelphia Eagles

  • The DeSean Jackson Celebration

    December 12, 2010: Eagles 30, Cowboys 27

    DeSean Jackson was one of the most electrifying players in Eagles history. No Dallas defender could catch him on a 91-yard go-ahead touchdown in a game that put the Eagles in position to take a stranglehold on the NFC East in December 2010.

    The lasting memory of this game is DeSean Jackson falling backward into the endzone at Cowboys Stadium.

    DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles

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