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On This Date in Sports January 31, 1993: Roses for the Cowboys

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Just three years after a 1-15 season, the Dallas Cowboys win Super Bowl XXVII crushing the Buffalo Bills 52-17 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It is the last time a Super Bowl is played at a non-NFL stadium. The game was moved to Pasadena after Arizona voted against adopting the Martin Luther King holiday. Troy Aikman is named Super Bowl MVP, passing for 273 yards with four touchdowns. 

In 1989 a new sheriff rode into town, as Jerry Jones brought the Dallas Cowboys. His first move was to fire Tom Landry, who had been the Cowboys’ only coach since their first season in 1960. He named Jimmy Johnson a teammate on Arkansas’ 1966 National Championship team to lead the Cowboys into a new age. Johnson had won a National Championship at Miami in 1987, looked at the Cowboys, and tore the team down, trading Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for a score of draft picks. Dallas went 1-15 in 1989 but quickly turned things around as one of the picks was used to select Emmitt Smith. Within two years, the Cowboys were back in the playoffs posting an 11-5 record in 1991. 

The rise of the Cowboys continued in 1992, as they started the season with a statement win over the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football. The Redskins were coming into the season as the reigning Super Bowl champions. The Cowboys won their first division title in six years, posting a record of 13-3. In the playoffs, the Cowboys rolled over the Philadelphia Eagles 34-10 in the Divisional Round. A week later, they upset the San Francisco 49ers 30-20 at Candlestick Park to reach their first Super Bowl in 14 years. 

The Buffalo Bills and coach Marv Levy were hoping that the third time was the charm. They had lost Super Bowl XXV in heartbreaking fashion against the New York Giants and were blown out by the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI. The Bills had their ups and downs in 1992, as their reign of four straight AFC East titles ended as they settled for the Wild Card with a record of 11-5. With Jim Kelly sidelined with a knee injury, the Bills staged the biggest comeback in NFL history in the Wild Card round, rallying from down 35-3 to beat the Houston Oilers 41-38 in overtime. They would beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-3 in the Divisional Round. Kelly returned for the AFC Championship as the Bills beat the Miami Dolphins 29-10 to reach their third straight Super Bowl. 

Super Bowl XXVII was originally scheduled to be played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. However, when Arizona voted against adopting a Holiday for Martin Luther King Jr., the game was moved to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It marked a new beginning for the halftime show as Michael Jackson became an era of big named headliners.  The coin toss was handled by Bills legend O.J. Simpson as Buffalo hoped to get some luck coming their way. 

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The first break of the game went to the Bills as Steve Tasker blocked a punt by Mike Saxon. This set up the first score of the game as Thurman Thomas scored on a two-yard run. The Bills played their game until James Washington picked off Jim Kelly with five minutes left in the first quarter. The Cowboys would tie the game as Jay Novacek caught a 23-yard pass from Troy Aikman. Mere moments later, Dallas took the lead as Jimmie Jones recovered a fumble after Kelly was stripped by Charles Haley. 

The Bills responded with a long drive to the Dallas one stretching into the second quarter, but Jim Kelly was picked off by Thomas Everett in the end zone. The Bills would get the ball back, but Kelly reaggravated his knee injury, leading Frank Reich to take over and led the team to a 21-yard field goal by Steve Christie. The Cowboys quickly raced down the field and stretched their lead to 21-10, as Michael Irvin caught a 19-yard touchdown pass. On the next play from scrimmage, Thurman Thomas lost the ball to Jimmie Jones, setting up the Cowboys for another quick score as Irvin caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Troy Aikman. 

Leading 28-10, the Cowboys got the ball to start the third quarter and continued to pull away on a 20-yard field goal by Lin Elliott. Late in the third quarter, the Bills got a sliver of hope as Frank Reich hooked up with Don Beebe on a 40-yard score to make it a two-touchdown game. That hope would disappear as Troy Aikman had his fourth score on a 45-yard pass to Alvin Harper. On the following possession, Thomas Everett intercepted Reich giving the Cowboys another quick score as Emmitt Smith scored on a ten-yard run. The Cowboys defense was now swarming and made it 52-17 as Ken Norton Jr. scooped up a fumble for a touchdown. 

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The Bills would also fumble on their next possession as the Cowboys began celebrating. Troy Aikman was replaced by Steve Beurlein, who fumbled the ball back to Buffalo. The game continued to be sloppy as Leon Lett scooped up a fumble and appeared to be on his way to giving the Cowboys a record 59 points in the Super Bowl. However, Don Beebe, never quitting, ran down Lett and popped the ball out of his hand for a touchback. The Bills would run out the clock, as with nine turnovers and down 52-17, it was only a matter of time before the shellacking was over.