The History of the Cowboys and Eagles Rivalry


The Dallas Cowboys face off against another hated rival this coming Sunday afternoon as the Philadelphia Eagles play host to the ‘boys in Philly for a 12 o’clock kickoff.  Dallas leads the series that started in 1960, 60-47. 

Despite their long tenured rivalry, it didn’t really start kicking up until the 1980’s with the “Blue Jersey Game”.  Philadelphia was the home team and chose to wear their whites, forcing Dallas to wear their unlucky and cursed blue jersey.  Much to the agreement and joy of the fans, the Cowboys were beaten that day 20-7 thus continuing the blue jersey woes.  (The blue jerseys were considered unlucky as the Cowboys lost big games wearing the dreaded blues including losing Super Bowl V.)

During the 1987 season, the NFL was on strike and all of the teams had replacement players on their rosters.  The Cowboys had a few players cross the picket line but the Eagles still were replacement heavy.  Former coach Buddy Ryan had accused Cowboys legend Tom Landry of running up the score in that particular game, 41-22.  So when the Cowboys and Eagles played again in the matchup after the strike, the Eagles won the game 37-20 as former Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham faked a kneel down and threw a pass to draw an interference call.  It worked and the Eagles scored once more.

Anytime you have two head coaches that are flamboyant and very confident, you can expect some drama.  Here lies the case between former Cowboy coach Jimmy Johnson and former Eagle coach Ryan.  Both men were confident in their teams with Ryan a little more willing to stick his neck out and be more boisterous.  This proved to have produced 2 classical games that were called the Bounty Bowls I and II.  Bounty Bowl I was played in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day 1989, and had Johnson accusing Ryan of putting a bounty on his kicker Luis Zendajas and quarterback Troy Aikman.  Zendajas had formerly played for the Eagles, left the game with a concussion.  The chatter escalated when Johnson was quoted as saying, “I have absolutely no respect for the way they played the game, I would have said something to Buddy, but he wouldn’t stand on the field long enough. He put his big, fat rear end into the dressing room.”  Ryan responded, “I resent that. I’ve been on a diet, lost a couple of pounds. I thought I was looking good.”  The game ended with the Eagles winning 27-0.

Two weeks later, the television networks stirred up this game giving it the title, “Bounty Bowl II”.  CBS Sports worked hard on promoting the game and they were not let down as the game was held in Philadelphia, a place known for having the rowdiest fans in the NFL.  The fans didn’t disappoint as the snow wasn’t plowed prior to the game leaving an ample supply to throw at Cowboy players, officials, and even their own Eagle players all while drinking plenty of beer.  The Eagles won the close contest, 20-10 but due to the behavior of the fans, beer sales were suspended for the remainder of that season.

The next year, the Eagles travelled to Dallas and while having dinner with an assistant coach, Ryan had choked on a piece of a pork chop.  Cowboy fans responded and followed up the next week by throwing pork chops and other meat products at the Philadelphia sidelines during their loss to the Eagles, 21-20.

After Johnson and Ryan exited their respective teams, the feud between the two teams didn’t.  In 1995, former coach Barry Switzer called for a run play on 4th and 1 on their own 29 yard line.  Apparently the two-minute warning had sounded before the play was whistled and it had the Eagles stuffing Emmitt Smith behind the line of scrimmage.  Second chance?  Great!  What play are we going to call?  Load right?  Didn’t we just run this?  Well, Switzer called the same play with the same exact result.  Switzer claimed it was too windy to punt, “If we kick into the wind, they are going to come back and kick a field goal.”

A few years later in 1999, once again in Veteran’s Stadium, Michael Irving had suffered a career ending injury during the course of the Cowboys game.  Instead of just clapping like most fans, the Eagle fans cheered loudly as he was carted off of the field on a stretcher.

The Cowboys spent years without a postseason victory, 13 years to be exact.  From 1996 to 2010, they had not won in the playoffs but that changed as the Eagles were defeated during the regular season 24-0.  Two weeks later, the two met in the playoffs with Dallas beating the Eagles soundly 34-14.  The two teams accumulated 23 penalties for a combined loss of 228 yards.

The Cowboys and Eagles continue their rivalry but it begins with a new chapter as new Eagles coach Chip Kelly gets to experience his first game of this magnitude.  His former college team Oregon may have played a few rivalry games but nothing of this level.  The fact that Eagles starting quarterback Michael Vick will be sidelined with Nick Foles getting the nod and having to play against a backup defensive line for the Cowboys, this game could become another classic matchup.  We could even call this game, the “Backup Bowl” for all the starters not playing which includes Cowboy starting running back Demarco Murray (MCL Sprain) and Demarcus Ware (quad).  Either way, the Cowboys and Eagles always play good football and it will continue as long as the franchises continue to play.  Nothing less is expected from the contest on Sunday night.