|1995 Dallas Cowboys season|
|Head coach||Barry Switzer|
|Home field||Texas Stadium|
|Division place||1st NFC East|
|Playoff finish||Won Divisional Playoffs (vs. Eagles) 30-11|
Won NFC Championship (vs. Packers) 38-27
Won Super Bowl XXX (vs. Steelers) 27-17
|Pro Bowlers||QB Troy Aikman|
RB Emmitt Smith
WR Michael Irvin
OT Mark Tuinei
G Larry Allen
C Ray Donaldson
TE Jay Novacek
OG Nate Newton
DE Charles Haley
S Darren Woodson
The 1995 Dallas Cowboys season was the franchise's 36th season in the National Football League and was the second year under head coach Barry Switzer and final of the three Super Bowl titles they would win during 1992 to 1995. Dallas would be the first team to ever win three Super Bowls in a span of four seasons (would be later matched by the New England Patriots from the 2001 to 2004 seasons). Switzer guided the Cowboys to a fifth Super Bowl win by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. As of 2020, this is the last time the Cowboys appeared in the NFC Championship Game, and in turn, their last Super Bowl appearance.
The 1995 NFL draft was one of the worst in Dallas Cowboys history. It is infamously known as the "backup draft", because the team considered their roster so strong, they drafted players based on their contributions as backups, which limited the future potential of their selections. The team traded their first-round draft choice (28th overall) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (they selected Derrick Brooks), in exchange for two second-round picks. The best player drafted would end up being Eric Bjornson.
|1995 Dallas Cowboys draft|
|2||46||Sherman Williams||Running back||Alabama|
|2||59||Kendell Watkins||Tight end||Mississippi State|
|2||63||Shane Hannah||Guard||Michigan State|
|3||92||Charlie Williams||Cornerback||Bowling Green|
|4||110||Eric Bjornson||Tight end||Washington|
|4||129||Alundis Brice||Cornerback||Ole Miss|
|4||130||Linc Harden||Linebacker||Oklahoma State|
|5||166||Ed Hervey||Wide Receiver||USC|
|7||236||Oscar Sturgis||Defensive end||North Carolina|
|Made roster + Pro Football Hall of Fame * Made at least one Pro Bowl during career|
|11||21||Willie Jackson||WR||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|16||31||Dave Thomas||CB||Carolina Panthers|
The 1995 season, due to the NFL salary cap, once more saw a number of key veterans depart via free agency including wide receiver Alvin Harper to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, safety James Washington to the Washington Redskins, center Mark Stepnoski to the Houston Oilers and longtime Cowboys veteran defensive end Jim Jeffcoat to the Buffalo Bills. Starting cornerback Kevin Smith was out the remainder of the season after an injury in week one and perhaps the most prominent addition came on September 11, 1995, when Dallas signed All-Pro cornerback Deion Sanders away from the San Francisco 49ers. Running back Emmitt Smith would earn his fourth NFL rushing title and set a then-record 25 rushing touchdowns in a season against the Arizona Cardinals to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The season began with victories against the Giants, Broncos, Vikings in overtime, and Cardinals. In week five at the Redskins Troy Aikman was injured early and the Cowboys suffered their first loss of the season. Aikman returned the next week and led Dallas to wins over Green Bay, San Diego, the Falcons (marking Deion Sanders' debut game with the Cowboys), and the Eagles to move to 8-1.
In week ten, the struggling 49ers (only 5-4 and with Elvis Grbac subbing for injured Steve Young) came to Texas Stadium and shocked the Cowboys, 38-20; the game's signature play was San Francisco's second play from scrimmage, from the Niners' 19-yard line, as Grbac's pass split Dallas' safeties and Jerry Rice scored.
The win started a six-game win streak for San Francisco while Dallas rebounded beating the Raiders and the Chiefs to move to 10-2 but then were upset at home by the Washington Redskins (The Redskins, who finished only 6-10, swept the eventual world champions; it was the Skins' seventh win in fourteen meetings since the firing of Tom Landry). The Cowboys would lose their second game in a row in a controversial loss at Philadelphia where with the game tied at 17 in the fourth quarter, Coach Barry Switzer elected to "go for it" on 4th and a foot at the Cowboys 29. The Eagles initially stopped Dallas for no gain but the play was ruled dead because the two-minute warning was reached before Dallas snapped the ball. Switzer then elected to not punt and try again, and this time the play was stopped for a 1-yard loss; Philly took over and soon kicked a field goal to get the win. While the Cowboys in general and Switzer in particular were excoriated by fans and the media, the team became stronger and angrier after this game (Deion Sanders publicly supported Switzer and the decision to try the 4th down conversion) and eventually used those emotions to end the losing streak.
The next week, Dallas appeared headed for a third straight defeat at home to the mediocre Giants (only 5-9 entering the game) but thanks to a clutch late reception by Kevin Williams and a last-second field goal by Chris Boniol, the Cowboys prevailed. Rejuvenated, the team defeated the Arizona Cardinals and (combined with a 49er loss the day before) secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The movie "Jerry Maguire" used film footage from the Arizona matchup.
The Cowboys defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC divisional playoff game followed by a memorable NFC championship game victory against the Green Bay Packers at Texas Stadium. The team would go on to face the Pittsburgh Steelers at Sun Devil Stadium in Arizona in an attempt to tie the NFL record of a fifth league title. Dallas dominated early, but as the Steelers gained momentum and threatened an upset over the heavily favored Cowboys, starting cornerback Larry Brown, after the tragic loss of his son Kristopher during the season, was named Super Bowl XXX Most Valuable Player when he made his second interception of a pass from Steelers quarterback Neil O'Donnell to seal the game.
|1||September 4, 1995||at New York Giants||W 35-0||1-0||Giants Stadium||Recap|
|2||September 10, 1995||Denver Broncos||W 31-21||2-0||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|3||September 17, 1995||at Minnesota Vikings||W 23-17 (OT)||3-0||Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome||Recap|
|4||September 24, 1995||Arizona Cardinals||W 34-20||4-0||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|5||October 1, 1995||at Washington Redskins||L 23-27||4-1||Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium||Recap|
|6||October 8, 1995||Green Bay Packers||W 34-24||5-1||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|7||October 15, 1995||at San Diego Chargers||W 23-9||6-1||Jack Murphy Stadium||Recap|
|9||October 29, 1995||at Atlanta Falcons||W 28-13||7-1||Georgia Dome||Recap|
|10||November 6, 1995||Philadelphia Eagles||W 34-12||8-1||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|11||November 12, 1995||San Francisco 49ers||L 20-38||8-2||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|12||November 19, 1995||at Oakland Raiders||W 34-21||9-2||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum||Recap|
|13||November 23, 1995||Kansas City Chiefs||W 24-12||10-2||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|14||December 3, 1995||Washington Redskins||L 17-24||10-3||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|15||December 10, 1995||at Philadelphia Eagles||L 17-20||10-4||Veterans Stadium||Recap|
|16||December 17, 1995||New York Giants||W 21-20||11-4||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|17||December 25, 1995||at Arizona Cardinals||W 37-13||12-4||Sun Devil Stadium||Recap|
|(1) Dallas Cowboys||12||4||0||.750||435||291||W2|
|(4) Philadelphia Eagles||10||6||0||.625||318||338||L1|
|New York Giants||5||11||0||.313||290||340||L2|
|Divisional||January 7, 1996||Philadelphia Eagles||W 30-11|
|NFC Championship||January 14, 1996||Green Bay Packers||W 38-27|
|Super Bowl XXX||January 28, 1996||Pittsburgh Steelers||W 27-17|