In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
Super Bowl XXVIII sees the big game in Atlanta for the first time, and it feels like a rerun, as Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills meet for the second year in a row. For the Bills, it is their fourth straight appearance and their fourth straight loss in the Super Bowl, as the Cowboys win the game 30-13, with Emmett Smith leading a big second-half effort by Dallas.
As the ’90s began there was no team that dominated the AFC like the Buffalo Bills, who went to a record four consecutive Super Bowls. However, Marv Levy’s team was always the bridesmaid and never the bride, as they lost all four games. The most gut-wrenching of these four losses was Super Bowl XXV when they were stunned by the New York Giants 20-19, losing when Scott Norwood’s field goal sailed wide right. The following year they down again in Super Bowl XXVI, losing to the Washington Redskins 37-24. Super Bowl XXVII, was the Bills worst performance as they trashed by the Dallas Cowboys 52-17. On their way to their fourth Super Bowl, the Bills posted a record of 12-4, beating the Los Angeles Raiders in the Divisional Round 29-23 and the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game 30-13.
Led by Jimmy Johnson, the Dallas Cowboys came into Super Bowl XXVIII, looking to join the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers as the only teams with four Lombardi Trophies. After beating the Bills in Super Bowl XXVII, the Cowboys got off to a rocky start, losing their first two games as Emmitt Smith was holding out for a new contract. This included a 13-10 loss to the Bills in Week 2, forcing Dallas to give their running back the contract he wanted. Smith’s arrival would see the Cowboys take off, posting a 12-4 record to win the NFC East. In the final game of the season, Emmitt Smith had 229 yards from scrimmage leading Dallas to a 16-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys to decide the division championship. Smith had played the game with a separated shoulder and was named NFL MVP. In the playoffs, the Cowboys schooled the Green Bay Packers 27-17 in the Divisional Round and beat the San Francisco 49ers for the second straight season in the NFC Championship 38-21, despite Troy Aikman being knocked out, as Bernie Kosar provided strong play in his place.
There was just one week between the championship games and the Super Bowl at the three-year-old Georgia Dome, due to the NFL experimenting with two bye weeks in the regular season. This could have been a problem as Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman as suffering from the after-effects of a concussion. In fact under today’s concussion protocol. At the time, Dallas downplayed the seriousness of Aikman’s concussion, not wanting to sit the reigning Super Bowl MVP. However, watching the game could tell that Troy Aikman was not himself as the Cowboys offense sputtered throughout the first half. The Cowboys did manage to score on the game’s first drive thanks to a 50-yard return by Kevin Williams on the opening kickoff, as Eddie Murray hit a 41-yard field goal. The Bills responded with a field goal of their own by Steve Christie who was good from 54 yards the longest in Super Bowl history at the time. The Cowboys second drive did not go anywhere, but after a fumble by Thurman Thomas they had the ball back and were deep in Buffalo territory as they Murray made it 6-3 on a 24-yard field goal. The Bills got the ball back and put forth their best drive of the game, going 80 yards, with Thurman Thomas scoring the game’s first touchdown on a four-yard run in the early stages of the second quarter. The Bills got a break late in the second quarter to extend their lead to 13-6 when Nate Odomes intercepted Aikman and set up a 28-yard Steve Christie Field Goal to end the first half.
After a country-themed halftime show, the Dallas Cowboys came out ready to smoke the Bills, looking to overcome the shakiness of the first half. It would take just three plays to erase all the good Buffalo did in building their 13-6 lead, as James Washington scooped up a fumble by Thurman Thomas and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown to even the score. After the Bills went three and out, the Cowboys offense got the ball for the first time in the second half looking to focus on feeding the ball to Emmitt Smith. On an eight-play drive, Smith carried the ball seven times, accounting for all 64 yards with a 15-yard touchdown to give the Cowboys the lead. Neither team was able to do much the rest of the third quarter, as the Bills had the ball down seven as the game went into the fourth quarter. On the first play of the final quarter, James Washington picked off Jim Kelly, setting up the Cowboys at the Bills 34. Once again, the Cowboys used a steady diet of Emmitt Smith to go down the field and extended the lead to two touchdowns, as Smith scored his second touchdown on a one-yard dive. The Cowboys would later add a 20-yard field goal by Murray as Emmitt Smith and Darryl “Moose” Johnston were each stopped at the goal line. The Cowboys would get to celebrate once again, as the Bills walked off a loser, on the NFL’s biggest stage for the fourth straight year.
With 132 yards on 30 carries and two touchdowns, Emmitt Smith would follow up his NFL MVP with a Super Bowl MVP. This was good news for Reebok, who edited and used Smith’s third-quarter touchdown run in time for a fourth-quarter commercial, highlighting their Reebok pump line, providing the biggest talking point as the Bills went down feebly in the final 15 minutes.