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On This Date in Sports November 23, 1989

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The Philadelphia Eagles pummel the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving 27-0. Following the game, Cowboys Coach Jimmy Johnson claims that the Eagles were taking out a bounty on several of his players including quarterback Troy Aikman and kicker Luis Zendejas. Eagles Coach Buddy Ryan was said to have held a grudge against Dallas after the Cowboys rolled up the score during the replacement games as the game became known as the Bounty Bowl.

Thanksgiving takes on a new feel, as the Dallas Cowboys are no longer coached by Tom Landry. The new Cowboys coached by Jimmy Johnson are in rebuild mode and look more like an expansion team as they hosted the Philadelphia Eagles at Texas Stadium. The Cowboys came into the game with a record of 1-10, while the Eagles were 7-4. The Eagles grabbed the lead in the second quarter when Cris Carter caught a six-yard pass from Randall Cunningham while Roger Ruzek added a 36-yard field goal for a 10-0 halftime lead. On the kickoff to begin the second half, Cowboys kicker Luis Zendejas was taken out by the Eagles return team. Zendejas suffered a concussion rising ire of the Cowboys sideline. Later Troy Aikman was knocked out of the game after a late hit by Britt Hager, leading to a brawl between the two teams. Meanwhile, the Eagles scored a pair of third quarter touchdowns, with Carter catching an 18-yard pass and Keith Byars getting a one-yard run. Roger Ruzek added a field goal in the fourth quarter as the Eagles won the game 27-0.

After the game, Jimmy Johnson ripped into Eagles Coach Buddy Ryan, learning of Philadelphia’s bounty system from Luis Zendejas who was cut by the Eagles a week earlier. Zendejas claimed that Eagles players received $100 for every hit on a kicker or punter and $500 for putting down a quarterback. Before the game, Zendejas had learned there was a $200 bounty on his head, leading to the blindside shot he took on the third quarter kickoff. Ryan denied any such bounty on the Cowboys as the rivalry between the two NFC East teams heated up. The Cowboys would issue a formal complaint, but no penalties were handed out due to the Eagles bounty program.

The two teams met again two weeks later in Philadelphia at Veteran’s Stadium. Fans played up the bounty angle with signs targeting the Cowboys players. The night before it had snowed in Philadelphia and the city had failed to clear the stadium. This led to the Cowboys being pummeled with snowballs the entire game as the Eagles won again 20-10. Adding to the embarrassment of the snowball incident was Philadelphia District Attorney Ed Rendell was caught on video throwing a snowball at Jimmy Johnson.

The 1989 season was a nightmare for the Cowboys, who finished the season with a record of 1-15, while the Eagles finished 11-5 and made the playoffs, losing in the Wild Card round to the Los Angeles Rams.