Following a 44-17 dismantling of the Redskins in Washington, the question is now this: Are the Dallas Cowboys of 2014 a carbon copy of the 1995 champions of Super Bowl XXX?
To begin with, this year’s Super Bowl will take place in Glendale, Arizona, a spot just a matter of miles from where the ’95 team defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in Tempe on January 28, 1996.
Now, Super Bowl history means nothing to this Cowboys squad that has not only defied virtually all preseason predictions from media and fans alike, but is looking more and more like a team that might be the one to beat in the NFC playoff bracket.
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You say that the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks are playing pretty well right now? They clinched home field advantage on Sunday with a 20-6 win over the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field? No visitors from around the league can handle “The 12th Man”?
Well, nobody except Dallas, at least this season.
In fact, you probably know by now that the Cowboys completed their ’14 regular season road schedule undefeated.
What exactly does this mean?
To begin with, it means that the Cowboys have become a very good football team in a very short period of time.
Further, teams that go undefeated on the road during the regular season generally end up in the Super Bowl, even if they don’t win it. When you think of teams like the 2007 New England Patriots and the 2001 Rams, you think of some very good football teams that just happened to lose the biggest game on the NFL calendar.
The ’95 Cowboys certainly didn’t go undefeated on the road. They managed to fall to both Washington and the Philadelphia Eagles in a season in which the franchise was beginning to show signs of fading from the NFL limelight.
The ’14 team doesn’t exactly have the championship corpse of talent that the ’95 team still had, but the results and makeup of these two teams, at least over the course of the regular season, certainly bear some similarities that are worth noting.
I would not suggest that there’s too much in common between this year’s Cowboys team and the back-to-back Super Bowl champions of 1992-93.
In this case, it’s quite obvious that the trio of quarterback Tony Romo, running back DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Dez Bryant offer a stark reflection of some very familiar names from 20 years ago.
Former quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and receiver Michael Irvin all reside in the NFL Hall of Fame, in part, because of what they accomplished during that ’95 campaign. Known as “The Triplets” by that point in time, it was generally impossible to beat Dallas when those three reached certain statistical markers in a given football game.
Similar dynamics apply to today’s trio of offensive weapons in Dallas – dare we exclude tight end Jason Witten, who clearly serves as the same type of ‘security blanket’ that Jay Novacek once did?
Romo holds most of Dallas’ all-time passing records.
Murray has an NFL rushing title and also the franchise record for rushing attempts and yards in a single season.
Bryant now has the franchise record for touchdown receptions in addition to another 1,000-plus yard receiving season.
Not to be overlooked, the offensive line is built with blue-chip talent almost across the board. The same could be said of the ’95 unit, which featured names like Erik Williams, Larry Allen and Mark Tuinei. To this point, only this part of that previous Super Bowl winner might still be considered better than the guys that wear the blue star right now.
This is not to suggest that today’s Cowboys are better than those teams that won multiple championships long ago. Yet, if we’re comparing just a single season, today’s unit posted the same win-loss record and also took the NFC East in the process.
Finally, that ’95 squad wasn’t really defined by it’s defense, especially given the fact that defensive end Charles Haley was on his last legs and actually missed playing time in the postseason. Yes, there was still defensive tackle Leon Lett, who could also play end, that was there to save the day. Still, the defense was very thin and certainly not as good as it had been the three seasons prior.
We have said the same thing about this year’s Dallas defense, haven’t we?
Without players like franchise sack leader DeMarcus Ware and 2013 sack leader Jason Hatcher, there wasn’t supposed to be too much standing in the way of opposing offenses this season. Yet, this group of relative no-names, rejects and rookies has played far beyond expectations alongside an offense that might be the best in the NFL.
I believe in that old saying that goes, “Offense wins games, defense wins championships.”
But the ’95 Cowboys proved that once in awhile, things can go the other way around.
Could the same be true this season?