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Time Machine: Wrangling the Cowboys

Posted Nov 2, 2012

The Falcons held Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith to just 4 yards rushing in the first quarter of a 1993 matchup that saw the Falcons come out on top of the Super Bowl champions

For diehard Falcons fans, you can’t mention the Dallas Cowboys without stirring some painful memories. A pair of bitter defeats at home in the playoffs in 1978 (27-20) and 1980 (30-27) when the Birds boasted two of their finest teams are still etched in the minds of many when the blue star comes to town to visit this weekend.

But those two contests notwithstanding, the overall series in the regular season has been close with Dallas holding a 14-8 edge since 1966. One particular game in 1993 was especially memorable for the Birds as the defending Super Bowl champions pulled into the Georgia Dome for a November class in Week 10.

With Cowboys QB Troy Aikman on the bench nursing an injury, Dallas still marched in with perennial Pro Bowl names like Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Jay Novacek and Alvin Harper with their high-octane offense. The tables would be turned though as it was a crew of virtual unknown Falcons such as Mike Pritchard, Bobby Hebert, Erric Pegram and Andre Rison who would supplant the Cowboys more glitzier unit.

An early defensive struggle allowed Atlanta to take a slim 6-0 lead early in the second quarter on two K Norm Johnson field goals. The Falcons offense got going midway through the quarter and mounted an 11 play, 91-yard scoring drive behind the passing tandem of Hebert to Pritchard. To cap the drive off, Hebert tossed a 13-yard touchdown to Pritchard on a big 3rd down and 10 to run the score to 13-0 at halftime.

The stifling Falcons defense held Smith to a mere four yards rushing, Irvin and Novacek to zero receptions, and back-up QB Bernie Kosar to 5-11 passing for 20 yards in the first stanza.

Atlanta came out strong to begin the second half as LB Jessie Tuggle made a jarring hit on Kosar, forcing a fumble, on the first third down of the half and Dallas had to punt. The Birds capitalized on the added momentum going 69 yards on eight plays as Pritchard scored again on a short 10-yard pass for a 20-0 lead.

CB Deion Sanders, moonlighting as a wide receiver, got into the act blowing by the Dallas secondary for a beautiful 70-yard touchdown catch to add to the Cowboys misery. Sanders also smothered Irvin all day holding him to just one catch for five yards.

The Falcons cruised from there and when it was finished they had amassed 400 total yards worth of offense compared to just 230 yards for the more high-profile Cowboys. Hebert completed 24 of 32 passes for 315 yards and three scores to aid the Falcons cause in an emphatic 27-14 victory. (Incidentally, the third quarterback that day was current Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett.)