Super Bowl XXVII
Super Bowl XXVII was the beginning of a new era in pro football in Dallas as the Cowboys went from last to first in a few short years, but it was also near the end of an era in Buffalo as the Bills had lost the previous two Super Bowls and they had an age corps of veterans. Buffalo won the AFC East for the third straight year with a record of 11-5 and led the AFC in scoring. With the offense bolstered by future Hall of Famers Jim Kelly at quarterback, Thurman Thomas at running back and James Lofton at wide receiver along with All-Pro wide out Andre Reed, the Bills scored 381 points including 18 rushing touchdowns and 23 receiving TDs. Their defense was still led by Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith, All-Pro linebacker Cornelius Bennett and Pro-Bowl linebacker Darryl Talley and cornerback Nate Odomes. Though their record was not quite what it had been in previous years, they won the AFC East before beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-3 in the Divisional Playoff and then dispatched the Miami Dolphins 29-10 in the AFC Conference Championship. The Cowboys, on the other hand, were only a few years removed from being the worst team in football. In 1989, new Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hired new head coach Jimmy Johnson, firing Tom Landry – the only coach Dallas had ever known since their inception in 1960. Jones and Johnson then proceeded to overhaul the Cowboys lineup both through the NFL Draft and keen trades, which may have seemed foolish at first glance but proved to be genius moves. They snagged UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman in the 1989 draft and then Florida running back Emmitt Smith in the 1990 draft, teaming them with 1988 first round draft pick out of Miami Michael Irvin to create a trifecta of offense. Their philosophy of acquiring speed and aggressiveness in players took them ‘Boys from 1-15 to 7-9 to 11-5 to their NFC Championship record of 13-3 during the regular season. The three were offensive threats across the board and Emmitt Smith led the NFL in rushing yards (1,713), rushing touchdowns (18) and yards per game (107.1). They scored 30 or more points in six of their wins en route to the NFC East title. They then eliminated the Philadelphia Eagles 34-10 in the Division Playoff and took out the San Francisco 49ers 30-20 in the NFC Conference Championship.
The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California played host to the Super Bowl for the third time on January 31, 1992 before 98,374 football fans. For the first time in three trips, the Bills jumped out to the early lead on a Thurman Thomas 2-yard run to make it 7-0 on their second drive of the day. The Dallas defense then responded by forcing the first of many turnovers as Jim Kelly was intercepted by safety James Washington and the Cowboys offense capitalized a few played later with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Troy Aikman to tight end Jay Novacek to even the score. On the next drive by the Bills, Cowboys defensive end Charles Haley sacked Kelly, forcing a fumble that DT Jimmie Jones collected and scored from the two. Down 14-7, Buffalo began the second quarter with a 40-yard completion to Andre Reed, but on fourth-and-one, Kelly was once again picked off. Dallas linebacker Ken Norton, Jr. hit Kelly early in the second quarter, reinjuring the QB's knee and Frank Reich stepped in to take over the Buffalo backfield duties. Bills quarterbacks were intercepted four times throughout the game and Buffalo suffered five turnovers on lost fumbles. Though the Bills cut the lead to 14-10 with a 21-yard Steve Christie field goal, the ‘Boys came back with two Troy Aikman to Michael Irvin touchdowns of 19 and 18 yards to post a 28-10 halftime score. The most anticipated halftime entertainment to date featured the "King of Pop" Michael Jackson who wowed the fans with live renditions of "Billie Jean" and Black and White" among others. The second half, Dallas rushed back down the field on their first drive to set up a Lin Elliott field goal pushing the score to 31-10 and virtually out of reach. Reich found Don Beebe for a 40-yard touchdown pass to cap off the Bills scoring on their last possession of the third quarter. Aikman threw a fourth quarter 45-yard touchdown pass to Alvin Harper, Emmitt Smith rushed for a 10-yard score and then Norton forced a Reich fumble which he recovered and scored the last touchdown of the day. Buffalo was trounced for the second straight year as the resurgent Dallas Cowboys manhandled them on both offense and defense, winning 52-17. Troy Aikman went 22-for-30 for 273 passing yards and four touchdowns to earn the coveted Super Bowl XXVII Most Valuable Player award. Michael Irvin posted 114 receiving yards and two TDs while Emmitt Smith rushed for 108 yards and one score.