If you were a Dallas Cowboys fan back in the 1980s and 1990s, Jan. 10 probably brought up some pretty bad memories. For newer Cowboys fans, here is a bit of a history lesson.
Monday was the anniversary of arguably one of the most historic catches in NFL playoff history. If not that, at the very least, the most important catch in the old playoff rivalry between the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas.
Monday marked 40 years since the late 49ers receiver Dwight Clark leapt up in the end zone at Candlestick Park and caught a pass by Joe Montana on the edge of his fingertips. This led to San Francisco winning the game 28-27 after the PAT was scored. “The Catch” ended the Cowboys’ chance at the Super Bowl and sparked the start of a dynasty under Joe Montana in San Francisco.
As you can see in the video below, the eventual Hall-of-Famer quarterback wasn’t initially looking for Clark. He called a Spring Right Option intending to pass to Freddie Solomon – a play that led to the touchdown earlier in the game. Montana improvised, and waited for the Cowboys defenders to come down after trying to block a pass and sent a toss to Clark.
Ironically, this playoff game was also broadcast on CBS, which is the same network that will air the Wild Card matchup on Sunday. The game was called by legendary broadcaster Vin Scully.
Is the Cowboys’ matchup against the 49ers on the same week of the 40th anniversary of ‘The Catch’ a bad sign?
This may not have been as bad as The Curse of the Bambino, but “The Catch” did mark the fall of the Dallas Dynasty for quite a while. They wouldn’t advance to another Super Bowl for 11 years after this moment. Since that game, the Cowboys have met the 49ers in three other NFC Conference Championship games with Dallas winning two of the three contests.
Could the “bad juju” from that heartbreaking moment 40 years ago be looming over Dallas this week? I guess that depends on how superstitious of a sports fan you are. It certainly sticks with Cowboys legend Everson Walls. Many, himself included, are convinced that Walls allowing this catch is the reason he isn’t in the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor yet.
Yes, “The Catch” was the play everyone remembers, but Walls (in his rookie season) also had two interceptions and a fumble recovery in the contest. That led to a team record of 11 interceptions as a rookie.
Does that stat sound familiar? That’s because it went untouched for 40 years until second-year cornerback Trevon Diggs matched it this season. Maybe this time around, Diggs can make new history and catch a game-winning interception in the end zone rather than a 49ers last-minute touchdown.
Is it time to break out the sage? Whatever it takes, right? We can only hope that an excellent Cowboys performance on Sunday can wipe out the memory of this heartbreaking moment in Dallas history.