A Look Back At Super Bowl XXX

The 1995 season brought much turmoil to the Dallas Cowboys. Just one and a half years away from the departure of Jimmy Johnson, and on a rebound from a crushing defeat at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers in the 1994 NFC Championship game, the Cowboys were looking to regain the mountaintop they felt shouldn't have been given away so easily.

Head coach Barry Switzer and starting quarterback Troy Aikman were at odds most of the year. Aikman, a player that thrived on the boot camp discipline of Jimmy Johnson, saw Switzer as too much of a players coach that let good times get in the way of work. When asked the week of Super Bowl XXX how he would describe his relationship with Barry, he flatly said, "Strictly professional."

Dallas headed into the play-offs with a 12-4 record. They dispatched a tough Eagles team 30-11 settling the score for a late season loss remembered as the 4th and 1 game. The team then whipped the Green Bay Packers to earn a spot in Super Bowl XXX.

Their opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers ended up in 1995 with an 11-5 record. Their defense was one of the best that season and in the play-offs it showed its might.

They faced the Buffalo Bills in their opening play-off game, beating them 40-21. Then gained the AFC Super Bowl seed by a controversial win over the Indianapolis Colts by the score of 20-16.

The Cowboys were heavily favored and the first quarter of the game showed why. Dallas won the toss and received the Norm Johnson kick-off.

Starting on their 29 yard line Aikman hit Jay Novacek for 8, then Irvin for 20. Then Larry Allen knocked Greg Lloyd into another time zone springing Emmitt for 23.

But the drive stalled when the Steelers tightened up as they had their backs to the goal line. Dallas was force to settle for a field goal.

The Dallas defense held the Steelers to 9 yards and no first downs their first possession. And Dallas took over after a Deion Sanders 9 yard punt return.

Pittsburgh Steelers Bam Morris is stopped short of the first down by a host of Dallas Cowboys defenders during the third quarter in Super Bowl XXX. (AP/Sancetta)
Smith carried for 6 then 2 yards but an Erik William's false start backed the Cowboys up for a long third down.

Aikman slipped on the snap but regained his footing to thread a bullet to Irvin for a first down at the Dallas 40.

Aikman, who went 10 straight passes without a drop then heaved a rainbow to Deion Sanders for 47 yards. Two passes to Novacek later and Dallas built a ten-point lead.

A replay showed Kendal Watkins picking off Jerry Olsavsky as Novacek danced into the end zone untouched. An infraction of the rules that slipped by the officials.

The ineffective Steeler's offense again was forced to turn the ball over to Dallas and they mounted their third scoring attack of the day. A penalty free drive found Dallas on the Steelers 24-yard line on first down.

Michael Irvin put three fakes on Carnell Lake and caught a pass at the goal line for what seemed to be a 16-point lead. But Irvin needed to grab Lake's jersey to prevent the cornerback from gaining the position for an interception and the play was called back.

Dallas settled for a field goal that kept the Pittsburgh team in the game.

The Steelers found their offensive groove late in the second quarter when the 5 receiver set befuddled the Cowboys secondary. Yancey Thigpen, Andre Hastings, and Ernie Mills made spectacular catches to move the team to the 2-yard line. Bam Morris did the grunt work and pulled the Steelers back within 6. The half time score was Dallas 13, Pittsburgh 7.

Pittsburgh received the kick-off when play resumed and with a fired-up offense moved the ball quickly against Dallas. Morris led the attack with both a 15-yard run and a 10-yard swing pass that took everything Darren Woodson had to bring him down.

But the Dallas defense stiffened and Pittsburgh punted.

The ease with which Dallas moved the ball in the first half was not to be in the second. Dallas was forced to punt to a team that had momentum after three and out.

Pittsburgh again mounted a charge. Kordell Stewart on an end around pulled up ready to throw deep. When his receivers were covered he tucked the ball in and gained a first down because of several missed tackles by the Dallas defense.

Dallas Cowboys teammates celebrate Emmit Smith's touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XXX. (AP/Ragan)
But the pressure from the Dallas front four had been harassing Neil O'Donnell all day. He had thrown several passes before he was ready because of the consistent play of the Dallas linemen.

Pressure along with miscommunication caused O'Donnell to throw a slant where a receiver wasn't. Larry Brown intercepted the O'Donnell miscue and rambled down to the Pittsburgh 19-yard line.

A 17-yard pass to Irvin, followed by a 2 yard run by Emmitt put the Cowboys up 20 to 7.

The two teams traded possessions with no significant results, but late in the third quarter the Bill Cowher led Steelers took the momentum by driving and easily scoring a field goal.

With the contest at 20-10 Bill Cowher realized it was time to pull out all stops. He called for an on-side kick and the Steelers recovered at mid-field.

They made quick work of the short field and on a Bam Morris two-yard plunge added another 7 points causing the Cowboy lead to further dwindling. Dallas 20, Pittsburgh 17.

A little known statistic going into this game was Neil O'Donnell had a lower interception rating than any quarterback in pro football history.

Another common misconception is O'Donnell blew the Super Bowl by gift-wrapping the game with mental mistakes.

The facts in the second interception are that Corey Holliday ran a fly pattern. He dipped a shoulder to freeze Larry Brown and blew past the Cowboy. However, the Cowboys were blitzing and O'Donnell read the blitz and threw to where Holliday should have broken off the route.

Larry Brown read the play and the mistake by the Steeler's receiver and snagged his second pick of the day. He took the ball to the 5-yard line before being run out of bounds.

Emmitt Smith, tying the all-time post season touch down record of 11, scored two plays later giving the Cowboys 27 points and the game.

Bryant Gumble asked Jerry Jones during the trophy presentation how this game figured to the other two Super Bowl victories in his opinion.

"This is the sweetest." The proud NFL owner/GM answered.

Barry Switzer summed it up for all the nation and a team of destiny when his post-game remarks to Jones were, "We did it our way, baby!"

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