The Oakland Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys are two of the most iconic brands in all of sports. The Raiders shield and Silver and Black color scheme, and the Cowboys five-pointed star and silver and blue, are instantly recognizable. Both teams began play in 1960, the Raiders in the American Football League, the Cowboys in the National Football League. The Raiders have appeared in five Super Bowls and the Cowboys in eight. Yet, as successful and prominent as these two franchises have been for more than 50 years, they have never met in the Super Bowl.
They came close a few times. The Raiders fell to the Baltimore Colts in the first ever AFC Championship, as the Cowboys fell to the Colts in the Super Bowl. After the 1973 season, both the Raiders and Cowboys lost in their respective conference title games. The 1975 Raiders lost in the AFC title game to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Steelers went on to defeat the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. The Raiders lost to the Denver Broncos in a controversial AFC title game at the end of the 1977 season. Denver went on to lose to the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. The 1980 Cowboys fell to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship. The Eagles went on to lose to the Raiders in Super Bowl XV.
In fact, these two teams have only played each other 11 times in the regular season, with the Raiders holding a slight 6-5 edge. The Raiders and Cowboys have met numerous times in the preseason, just not that many when it counts in the standings.
The first meeting came in the 1974 regular season finale in Oakland in a rare Saturday night game. The Cowboys jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the first quarter. The Raiders found their footing in the second quarter as quarterback Ken Stabler tossed two touchdown passes to put the Raiders up 17-9 at halftime. Stabler opened the 3rd quarter with another touchdown strike to give the Raiders a 24-9 lead. After allowing a rushing touchdown, the Raiders answered with kicker George Blanda’s second field goal of the night to push the lead to 27-16 in the fourth quarter. Doug Dennison’s second rushing touchdown of the game for Dallas cut the lead to 27-23 but the Raiders held on for the victory.
The teams tangled in Oakland again in 1980. The Raiders were on a march to the playoffs after rebounding from the loss of starting quarterback Dan Pastorini earlier in the year. The Cowboys were also headed for the postseason. Jim Plunkett, who had taken over at quarterback, got the Raiders on the board first with a touchdown pass to tight end Raymond Chester. The Cowboys answered with two touchdown runs and a field goal to take a 16-7 lead. Kicker Chris Bahr’s chip shot field goal cut the Cowboys lead to 16-10. Kicker Rafael Septien added to the visitors’ lead with a 34-yard boot to make it 19-10. All the Raiders could muster was another Bahr field goal to make the final score 19-13 in favor of Dallas.
The Raiders made their first regular season trip to Dallas in 1983. The two teams got into a high-scoring affair at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. Raiders quarterback Marc Wilson threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns, while Cowboys quarterback Danny White added 240 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Raiders running back Frank Hawkins recorded a rare 100-yard rushing day for him, 118 yards on 17 carries, and the Raiders defense held running back Tony Dorsett to just 65 yards on 20 carries. A 26-yard Bahr field goal gave the Raiders a 40-38 victory.
The next meeting, in Dallas in 1986, was a much lower scoring contest, with the Raiders coming away with a 17-13 win. The Cowboys made their first regular season trip to Los Angeles to play the Raiders in 1992 and scored a 28-13 win. The Cowboys returned to Oakland in 1995 to play the Raiders in Silver and Black’s first year back, and defeated the home team 34-21.
The teams faced off in Oakland for the next three meetings – 1998, 2001, and 2005 – with the Raiders winning all three. The series returned to Dallas for a 2009 Thanksgiving match-up with the home team enjoying a 24-7 win. This was the Raiders first regular season appearance at the Cowboys new stadium, after playing the Cowboys, and winning 31-10, in the first pro football game played there to open the 2009 preseason. The Raiders spent Thanksgiving 2013 in Dallas as well, and fell 31-24 in a tightly contested game.
The Raiders enter this week’s match-up with the Cowboys on NBC’s Sunday Night Football with a 6-7 record. Dallas is 7-6, and with the Philadelphia Eagles clinching the NFC East last week, the Cowboys are fighting for a Wild Card spot. It may not be a Super Bowl, but a national television audience will have the opportunity to see two of the greatest brands in the sports world square off with a lot on the line.