The Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys have been NFC East rivals since 1970. Both franchises have seen their fair share of glory in great rivalry moments.

Eagles-Cowboys Rivalry: 1970s-1990s 

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: Dallas Dominates the 20th Century

The Eagles began the Super Bowl era as the little brothers of the rivalry. They struggled to keep up with legendary teams with Roger Staubach under center and Tom Landy pacing the sidelines during the 1970s.

Dick Vermeil brought the Eagles back into NFL relevance to give Veterans Stadium crowds something to cheer about. However, Troy Aikman fed Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin for another storied chapter of Dallas Cowboys history.

Eagles fans cherish memories of defeating the Cowboys during the Buddy Ryan era of the rivalry and into the early 1990s. Despite a fairly one-sided rivalry, four victories stood above the rest.

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

  • Wilbert Montgomery Seizes the NFC Championship Game

    January 11, 1981: Eagles 20, Cowboys 7 

    Eagles fans had suffered through the hardship of watching a dismal franchise while the Cowboys advanced to five Super Bowls and won two during the 1970s. Dick Vermeil finally broke through by toppling the Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game after the 1980 season.

    Wilbert Montgomery took a first quarter carry off-tackle for a 42-yard touchdown in one of the wildest moments in the history of Veterans Stadium. The Eagles were finally headed to their first Super Bowl.

  • Buddy Ryan Runs Up The Score on Tom Landry

    October 25, 1987: Eagles 37, Cowboys 20

    Buddy Ryan wasn’t a fan of the way Tom Landry handled the player strike of 1987. The Cowboys had utilized their star players who crossed the Pickett Line sooner than the major contributors for the Eagles. Ryan wasn’t going to allow a 41-22 blowout in Texas in Week 7 slide without consequences.

    The Eagles faced their arch-rivals just two weeks later at Veterans Stadium. With both teams at regular strength, the Eagles took a 10-point lead below the two-minute warning. Victory formation wasn’t good enough.

    Randall Cunningham ran a fake kneel down and threw a deep ball that drew a pass interference call to set the Eagles up for an easy score. The Cowboys heard the message loud and clear.


    Buddy Ryan, the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles during a memorable period of their rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys during the 1980s and 1990s

  • The Bounty Bowl: Parts I & II

    November 23, 1989: Eagles 27, Cowboys 0
    December 10, 1989: Eagles 20, Cowboys 10

    Buddy Ryan had an attitude, for better or for worse. He, allegedly, placed a “bounty” on former Eagles kicker Luis Zendejas because of previously critical comments after he left Philadelphia. Jessie Small crushed Zendejas in the Thanksgiving matchup that the Eagles won 27-0.

    The two NFC East rivals faced each other at the Vet two weeks later. The Eagles rolled Dallas again with another double-digit victory, but it was the Philadelphia fans who brought all the attention.

    Future Philadelphia mayor and Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell made his mark in Eagles folklore. According to ESPN, he was among the fans in the infamous 700 level raining the snowballs down at Johnson.

    Jimmy Johnson, Former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach

  • Eagles Stop Emmitt Smith on 4th & 1 and again on...4th & 1

    December 10, 1995: Eagles 20, Cowboys 17

    The Eagles struggled to keep up with the powerhouse Cowboys of the 1990s. Troy Aikman led a juggernaut offense with future Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin as the featured weapons.

    The eventual Super Bowl champions stumbled at Veterans Stadium late in the 1995 season. They blew a 17-6 halftime lead and let the Eagles tie the game in the fourth quarter. Ray Rhodes’ defense forced Dallas into a fourth-down at their own 20-yard line on their next possession.

    Dallas head coach Barry Switzer didn’t have the patience or the sense to punt the ball back to the Eagles. He called a run to Emmitt Smith, and the powerful Eagles front stuffed him for a turnover on downs. The play never counted.

    The officials blew the whistle for the two-minute warning, but nobody could hear it over a rowdy Veterans Stadium crowd. The Cowboys had the chance for a do-over.

    Switzer didn’t take advantage of it. He called the same play to Emmitt Smith, and the Eagles stuffed him again. The Vet celebrated a game-winning field goal, and it didn’t matter where the two teams would end up after the season.

    Eagles fans celebrated the chip on their shoulder after taking down the overconfident Dallas Cowboys.

    Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys

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