DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It was 17 years ago that a red-headed backup quarterback from Princeton authored one of the most amazing holiday scripts in Dallas Cowboys’ history.
Thanksgiving Day, 1994. With Troy Aikman and Rodney Peete out with injuries, Dallas’ third-stringer stepped in and promptly fell behind the Green Bay Packers, 17-3, at Texas Stadium. But in a performance that was as amazing as it was surprising, the quarterback threw for 311 yards, tossed long touchdowns to Alvin Harper and Michael Irvin, and led the Cowboys to a team-record 36 second-half points in a rousing 42-31 victory.
The quarterback that day will be the head coach tomorrow: Jason Garrett.
Ah, the magic of Thanksgiving.
The turkey. The dressing. The relatives and the heartburn, neither of which will leave. The Salvation Army’s red kettle. The classic opponents, including this year’s Miami Dolphins. The grandiose halftime show, tomorrow featuring Enrique Iglesies. And the – usually anyway – Cowboys’ victory.
Dallas is 27-15-1 all-time on Turkey Day. Some of them – for better or for worse – you might remember …
10. 11.25.2010 Saints 30, Cowboys 27 – After trailing 20-6 at halftime the Cowboys rally for a 27-23 lead and were on their way to icing the upset before Roy Williams fumbles after a 47-yard catch inside New Orleans’ 10 with three minutes remaining.
9. 11.26.87 Vikings 44, Cowboys 38 (OT) – Darrin Nelson’s game-ending run overcomes Danny White’s five touchdowns and drops 5-6 Dallas out of the playoffs.
8. 11.24.05 Broncos 24, Cowboys 21 (OT) – After Billy Cundiff misses a 34-yard field goal late in regulation, Denver’s Ron Dayne sets up the heartbreak loss with a 55-yard rumble.
7. 11.23.06 Cowboys 38, Buccaneers 10 – Tony Romo’s ascension from free agent to superstar gains traction as his franchise-record tying five touchdowns lead Dallas into first place in the NFC East.
6. 11.26.98 Vikings 46, Cowboys 36 – Rookie receiver Randy Moss haunts the team that passed over him in the draft with three touchdowns and 163 yards receiving.
5. 11.22.01 Broncos 26, Cowboys 24 – Dallas’ rally from a 26-3 deficit is thwarted when coach Dave Campo inexplicably shuns a two-point conversion attempt after a Reggie Swinton touchdown in the fourth quarter.
4. 11.23.89 Eagles 27, Cowboys 0 – Philly’s Buddy Ryan adds to the “Bounty Bowl” humiliation with a $200 reward for one of his players taking out Cowboys’ kicker Luis Zendejas.
3. 11.24.94 Cowboys 42, Packers 31 – With Troy Aikman and Rodney Peete sidelined with injuries and his team trailing 17-3, Jason Garrett steps in and throws for 311 yards and leads Dallas to a record 36 second-half points.
2. 11.25.93 Dolphins 16, Cowboys 14 – Ice storm. Leon Lett. Grumble mumble …
1. 11.28.74 Cowboys 24, Redskins 23 – Replacing an injured Roger Staubach, Abilene Christian rookie Clint Longley – making his first NFL appearance – orchestrates a dramatic and improbable rally, climaxed by a 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson with 28 seconds remaining.