When the Dallas Cowboys and the Cincinnati Bengals square off at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, the teams will be meeting for only the 12th time. The Cowboys will be looking to improve upon their 7-4 lifetime record against the reigning AFC North champions, while the Bengals will be trying to win for only the second time in seven trips at Dallas.
The teams rarely play each other, but their eleven games so far have produced some interesting moments, great performances and unlikely heroes. Here’s a look at some of the highlights of the Cowboys-Bengals match-ups.
Middle linebacker Lee Roy Jordan anchored the Dallas Doomsday Defense from 1963 through 1976 and during his time in the NFL, no linebacker intercepted more passes than the Excel, Alabama native’s 32.
On November 4, 1973 at Texas Stadium, Jordan had a career high three picks in Dallas’ 38-10 rout of Ken Anderson and the Bengals. Jordan returned one interception 31 yards for a score for the third and final touchdown of his sterling career.
Jordan, who many believe belongs in Canton, trails only defensive backs Mel Renfro (52), Everson Walls (44), Charlie Waters (41), Dennis Thurman (36), Michael Downs (34) and Cornell Green (34) on the Cowboys’ all-time interception list.
Few athletes, or celebrities in general for that matter, are more associated with the city of Dallas, Texas than Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach. But before Roger the Dodger made it big deep in the heart of Texas, he was a high school hero in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Staubach only faced his hometown Bengals twice in his career, but led Dallas to easy victories both times. The Cowboys’ signal caller was particularly sharp in his first game ever against the Bengals.
In the same game where Jordan had his three interceptions, Staubach was 14 for 18 for 209 yards and three touchdowns to lead Dallas to victory. Staubach’s quarterback rating on the day was 154.6, the highest rating he’d have in a Dallas home game. Staubach’s other highest QBR games also came in 1973, a season where he’d lead the NFL in passing. On December 2, 1973 at Mile High Stadium, Staubach posted a 155.8 rating in the Cowboys’ 22-10 over Denver. Two weeks later, Staubach led Dallas to a 30-3 win over the Cardinals in St. Louis while putting up a 155.2 QBR.
LOWERING THE BOOM(ER)
On December 8, 1985 at chilly Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, the eventual NFC East Champion Cowboys ran into a buzz saw against a talented Bengals team that featured a high-powered offense.
The Bengals, led by quarteback Boomer Esiason’s three touchdown passes and James Brooks’ 109 yards rushing and two scores, routed Dallas 50-24 and put up an amazing 570 total yards in the process. The 50 points allowed was the third highest total ever allowed by a Cowboys’ defense, and the 570 total yards surrendered was the fourth most in Cowboys’ history.
A 60 MINUTE ROLLER COASTER RIDE
The amusement park Six Flags Over Texas is not too much more than a Troy Aikman bomb’s distance from the Cowboys new home at AT&T Stadium. When the Cowboys and Bengals squared off at Texas Stadium in Irving on October 13, 1991 they were not in close proximity to any theme parks, but the events of that game provided all the thrills of any roller coaster.
In 1991 the Cowboys under Jimmy Johnson were emerging as a force to be reckoned with in the NFC, and the Bengals were a talented team that could score from anywhere on the field. The Bengals showed their quick strike ability by putting up the game’s first 10 points, but Dallas rallied for three touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 21-10 lead. The visitors would score the game’s next 13 points to take a 23-21 advantage, but Dallas had the last laugh in the contest’s final period. An Emmitt Smith touchdown run and rookie linebacker Dixon Edwards’ 36 yard interception return for a score sealed the deal for Dallas in the Cowboys’ 35-23 victory.
When you think Dallas Cowboys’ touchdowns, the names Smith, Dorsett, Irvin, Hayes, Pearson and Bryant come to mind. On November 12, 2000 at Texas Stadium, an unlikely player joined the ranks of Cowboys who’d reached the end zone in Dallas 23-6 victory over the Bengals.
With the Cowboys holding a slim 10-6 lead midway through the third period, defensive end Ebeneezer Ekuban sacked Bengals’ quarterback Akili Smith and forced a fumble that he recovered putting the Cowboys in position to pad their lead. Six plays later, Dallas found itself facing a fourth and goal from the Bengals’ two. In came rookie kicker Tim Seder, apparently to attempt a chip shot field goal that would put Dallas up by seven points.
But the Cowboys shocked both the Bengals and the crowd at Texas Stadium, as holder Micah Knorr handed the ball to Seder who ran in for the first touchdown ever scored by a Cowboys’ kicker. Seder would reach the endzone again in 2001, scoring another touchdown on a fake field goal in a 28-21 loss to the Raiders at Oakland.
T.O. MEANS K.O FOR CINCINNATI
After losing in the first round of the 2007 playoffs after posting an NFL best 13-3 record, the 2008 Dallas Cowboys looked to make amends behind an offense that featured talented players at virtually every position.
On October 5th of that season, Dallas’ weapons were on display in a 31-22 victory over the Bengals. Quarterback Tony Romo threw for three touchdowns, running backs Felix Jones and Marion Barber combined for 180 rushing yards and Terrell Owens electrified the crowd with a fourth quarter 57 yard touchdown catch and to spark Dallas’ effort.
The win moved Dallas to a 4-1 record on the year, but trouble was on the horizon for the Cowboys in the form of an injury to Romo. Their quarterback’s injury led to Dallas losing three of its next four games, and a solid November streak of three impressive wins in a row couldn’t offset a December collapse (1-3 mark) that had Dallas on the outside looking in for the 2008 post-season.
On December 9, 2012, the Cowboys took on the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium only a few days after teammate Jerry Brown was killed in a motor vehicle accident that was the fault of fellow Cowboy Josh Brent. With the team reeling over the loss of one of its own, the Cowboys and Jason Garrett faced a tough task against a Bengals team that would finish 10-6 and earn an AFC wildcard playoff spot.
Dallas played valiantly throughout most of the game but with a nine point deficit as the fourth quarter began, it appeared as though the Cowboys were destined to lose the game. That was, of course, before Tony Romo and the Dallas’ offense went to work.
Taking over at their own 32 yard line with a little less than 10 minutes left in the game, Romo led Dallas on a scoring drive that ended with 27 yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant that pulled the Cowboys within two at 19-17. A key sack of Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton by Anthony Spencer got the ball back for Dallas, and the took possession at their own 28 yard line with 3.44 left in the game.
While the Cowboys’ touchdown drive earlier in the quarter featured big plays (Romo hit Kevin Ogletree for 23 yards and Miles Austin for 15 in addition to his 27 yard scoring pass to Bryant), their final drive chewed up yardage in small chunks. Heavily featured in the drive was running back Demarco Murray, who gained 32 yards combined and helped set up Dan Bailey for the winning 40 yard field goal as time expired.