Dallas Cowboys: When a backup QB led the team to a Super Bowl


Most Dallas Cowboys’ fans have either forgotten about, or are simply too young to remember when one of the greatest teams in franchise history (if not NFL history) was also forced to rely upon its backup quarterback. Twenty-two years ago, when Dallas’ superstar quarterback went down with injuries (on more than one occasion) the team was rescued by the surprisingly strong play of their backup quarterback, who many had written off.

In 1993, Dallas was coming off of a Super Bowl championship and remained the overwhelming favorites to repeat. Former star-quarterback-turned backup journeyman, Bernie Kosar was signed in mid season to back up Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman.

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When Kosar was brought aboard, he was nothing more than an afterthought but he would wind up being one of the unsung heroes of the Cowboys’ second consecutive title run.

After Aikman left the season’s 7th game with a hamstring injury, Kosar finished the game going 13-21 for 199 yards sealing the victory over the division rival New York Giants. He would start the next week leading Dallas to a five-point win over the Phoenix (now Arizona) Cardinals.

The man who had lost in the AFC title game three times, played in four games for the Cowboys during the regular season going 36-63 passing with five touchdowns and three interceptions. But the biggest moment of his career came when his team needed him most.

In the 1994 NCF Championship Game, Aikman was knocked out of the game against the hated San Francisco 49ers with a concussion. Kosar entered and threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Alvin Harper to seal the Cowboys’ 38-21 win.

Two weeks later, Aikman (still not fully recovered from his concussion) played the entirety of Super Bowl 28 which Dallas won 30-13 over the Buffalo Bills. But it was Kosar who took the final snap, taking a knee to end the game and finally become an NFL champion.

After three heartbreaking losses in AFC title games, Kosar was the unlikely hero in his fourth and most unexpected title game appearance. And while the situation is not exactly the same as that which the 2015 Cowboys face, Kosar’s heroics should give Dallas’ fans hope.

Start with the coincidence that both Kosar and this year’s backup quarterback, Brandon Weeden both came to Dallas after stints with the Cleveland Browns. But the bigger similarity is that both players had been cast aside as washed out players just trying to hang on to an NFL job.

Also, in both cases, the teams’ offense revolved around the rushing game. In 1993, Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith won the league’s Most Valuable Player award despite missing the first two games of the season due to a holdout.

In 2015, Dallas is coming off a season in which the team led the NFL in rushing. This year, the team still prides itself on being able to rush the ball behind a massive and physical offensive line.

Most importantly, like Kosar, Weedon is not going to be expected to be the star of the offense. Both versions of the Cowboys featured numerous offensive skill position weapons and the best offensive line the game.

One major difference this year is that Cowboys are missing the best wide receiver in the game, No. 88, Dez Bryant, while Kosar’s 1993 team had a healthy star wide receiver in Hall of Fame member, No. 88 Michael Irvin. Still, the fact remains that just like Kosar, Weedon has plenty of talent to work with on offense.

The load on Weedon is greater because Romo will be out until at least eight weeks until the November, 22nd game versus the Miami Dolphins. Though, Kosar started only one game he was called upon for spot duty throughout the season as Aikman battled nagging injuries. But the point is that just as Kosar stepped up to lead his team when he was needed most, Weedon now has the opportunity to do the same.

Hopefully, history repeats itself.

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