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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Cowboys-49ers is again much-watch TV

by Wally Hall | January 18, 2023 at 2:57 a.m.

It had rained for days and Candlestick Park was a quagmire.

Groundskeepers had worked around the clock, even laying down all new sod, because the San Francisco 49ers were hosting America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys.

Everyone loved to hate the Cowboys and because Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had offered to host the game, the 49ers wanted it even more.

That was 1992 and the Cowboys -- behind quarterback Troy Aikman and head coach Jimmy Johnson -- were on their way to being Super Bowl champions, not just that year, but the next as well when they again beat the 49ers, but in Texas Stadium, to reach the biggest game.

Most people thought the Cowboys were becoming the world's team. Back to back Super Bowl wins over Buffalo had expectations flying unrealistically high.

Only that win in San Francisco would be the Cowboys' last road win in the playoffs until Monday night, when they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the GOAT, Tom Brady, who completed 35 of 66 passes for 351 yards and 2 touchdowns, the majority of it in the second half.

At 45 years of age, Brady can still play, but he's not the same quarterback he was two years ago when he led the Bucs to a Super Bowl win, which says a lot about how great he has been.

On the other hand, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, who has been turnover-prone for the past eight games, won the quarterback contest, completing 25 of 33 passes for 305 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also ran for a touchdown.

The Cowboys have to go through San Francisco and probably Philadelphia to get back to the Super Bowl. The last time they were there they beat Pittsburgh, but that was in 1995.

Since then, they are 4-11 in the playoffs. So when the camera panned the visiting owner's suite in the fourth quarter, there was nothing to see but joy and jubilation in the Jones family.

In those closing moments, it didn't matter that place-kicker Brett Maher missed four extra points, one more than he missed during the entire regular season when he made 50 of 53.

A road win in the playoffs is a road win in the playoffs.

This time of year is like March Madness. Teams want to survive and advance and for the Cowboys to do that, they are going to need Maher.

The Cowboys will play the 49ers this Sunday on Fox at 5:30, and San Francisco has its own quarterback story.

Brock Purdy was Mr. Irrelevant in last year's draft, the title given to the final player selected.

Injuries forced the third-string quarterback into starting duties on Dec. 11, and all he has done since then is win.

He's the first Mr. Irrelevant in the history of the NFL to start a playoff game at quarterback. Purdy is also the first rookie quarterback to win a playoff game for the the 49ers, who have a long history of great quarterbacks.

On the 49ers, the main thing a quarterback has to do -- much like at Alabama -- is manage the offense because the defense is the key to San Francisco's success.

Former Arkansas Razorback Dre Greenlaw leads the way and had 118 tackles this season. He was drafted by the 49ers in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but making the team was not difficult for the hard-hitting linebacker.

He started 11 games each of his first two seasons, missed most of last season with an injury and has started every game this season.

There is a long rivalry between Dallas and San Francisco, although it isn't as intense as it once was, but both teams have story lines, good defenses and offenses that are good enough.

While Monday night's playoff road win was sweet for the Cowboys and the Jones family, all thoughts are now on the 49ers.

Print Headline: Cowboys-49ers is again much-watch TV


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