As a fan, who gets under your skin the most? Which team do you want that win against more than any other? Today’s column is going to revolve around the subject of rivalry, specifically who is the Dallas Cowboys’ biggest rival?
Before we get to the big three, a few teams deserve honorable mention. Old school Cowboys’ fans may put stock in the Minnesota Vikings as a pretty huge rival. The all-time series couldn’t be any closer, with each team winning 14 games against the other. Many a memorable moment has occurred when these teams have met. Roger Staubach’s “hail mary” pass to save the Cowboys from exiting the playoffs in 1975. Tony Dorsett’s record-setting 99-yard touchdown run on a January Monday night in the Metrodome. Randy Moss going nuts on Thanksgiving Day in 1998, scoring 3 TD’s. The Vikings don’t make the top three however mostly because of the lack of bad blood.
Speaking of old school, the Pittsburgh Steelers qualify as a rival, simply due to the many Super Bowl matchups between the two. Due to the fact that the Steelers are an AFC team, it’s hard to have a true rivalry with a team you only see once every four years.
The last team that fell just short of being a top rival is the San Francisco 49ers. Ironically enough, Dallas has an even record versus the Niners as well, with each team posting 16 wins. This rivalry certainly does not lack for high drama either. San Francisco removed Dallas from the perch of dominance in the early 80’s and didn’t really relinquish their stranglehold on that until Dallas came back to prominence in the early 90’s. Frisco would have made it however there are three candidates that are slightly more deserving.
RIVAL #3 Philadelphia Eagles
Head-to-Head Record: Advantage Cowboys 58-46-0 in the regular season, 3-1 in the playoffs
Current Eagles that are former Cowboys: Felix Jones
The Eagles certainly represent a thorn in the side of the Cowboys and fans alike. There may not be a team that brings more bad blood to the table than Philadelphia. From the days of the Buddy Ryan bounties and his infamous verbal fights with Jimmy Johnson to the day Michael Irvin’s career ended on the turf of the Vet to the onside kicks Andy Reid started off games with, there is certainly history laced with venom between the two teams. Dallas won 11 straight from 1967-1972, reeled off another eight straight from 1974-78 and once again won seven straight from 1992-1995. Philadelphia also had stretches of dominance, winning eight in a row from 1987-1991 and nine out of ten from 2000-2004. Ever since the 44-6 debacle in 2008, Dallas has bounced back, winning six out of the last ten including their only playoff win since 1996. Recently, the rivalry was stoked by negative comments made about Tony Romo by former Eagles QB Donovan McNabb. The Eagles would have been listed as the second biggest rival, if not for an old school candidate re-emerging…
RIVAL #2 Washington Redskins
Head-to-Head Record: Advantage Cowboys 62-40-2 in the regular season, 0-2 in the playoffs
Current Redskins that are former Cowboys: Stephen Bowen, Kai Forbath
Washington may be the most natural rival of the Dallas Cowboys. It all stems from the alliteration of Cowboys v. Indians, two sides pre-determined to never see eye-to-eye. The two teams have combined for 25 division titles and eight Super Bowl titles since 1970 so both teams are accustomed to playing for bigger stakes. This rivalry is legendary not just within NFL circles but is recognized as one of the most notorious in all of sports. The head-to-head matchup used to be much more hotly contested until 1997 when Dallas won ten straight games and 14 out of 15 until 2005. With the arrival of a Texas kid, Robert Griffin, III in the nation’s capital, the rivalry has been renewed. Washington won both games last year, including the winner-take-all final game that gave the Redskins their first division title since 1999 and representing the third straight year a divisional opponent kept the Cowboys from the playoffs. Adding further insult, Griffin made some pointed comments regarding the Cowboys stating that he and the Redskins “spanked” Dallas on Thanksgiving last year and that he wants to make Cowboys Stadium the Redskins’ home.
RIVAL #1 New York Giants
Head-to-Head Record: Advantage Cowboys 57-42-2 in the regular season, 0-1 in the playoffs
Current Giants that are former Cowboys: Dan Connor
Some may argue that the Giants are not the Cowboys’ biggest rival but they provide every necessary element. The biggest icon in Dallas Cowboys’ history, Tom Landry, came from the Giants. The largest disparity in success between the two teams favors the Cowboys, seeing Dallas win all but won game from 1973-1980, otherwise the games have been fairly equal. The Giants were on the other end of one of the most memorable games in Dallas history when Emmitt Smith, with a separate shoulder, carried Dallas to a win that catapulted the Cowboys to their second straight Super Bowl victory. The teams also have sported bad blood, producing a Monday Night Football brawl the following year for all the country to see. New York is the closest threat to the Cowboys Super Bowl total of five wins, finding themselves only one behind after winning two in the last five years. The best head coach in Giants history, Bill Parcells, found his way to Dallas to help create the foundation of the current team’s core and to resurrect a struggling franchise. A Monday night game versus the Giants in 2006 ushered in the Tony Romo era in Dallas. Lately, the Giants have been the biggest obstacle in the way of Cowboys success as Dallas has been incapable to beat them in their new stadium (0-3) and in both opportunities to end the season with a win and a playoff berth in 2010 and 2011.