Cowboys young, but have won plenty

January 19, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO -- Don't tell Jimmy Johnson that his Dallas Cowboys don't have much experience.

"We have experienced guys," the Cowboys coach said after his team beat the San Francisco 49ers, 30-20, in the NFC title game Sunday.

"We went to the playoffs last year. We won the first playoff game. We said we wanted to go further than what we did last year and we've gone further and we've still got one game to go."

That one game is Super Bowl XXVII in Pasadena, Calif., against the Buffalo Bills on Jan. 31.

The Cowboys will be favored by a touchdown, even though they don't have much Super Bowl experience.

They don't have a single player who was on the team 14 years ago, when the Cowboys made it to their last Super Bowl. They have only two who have made it with other teams: Charles Haley with San Francisco and Ray Horton with the Cincinnati Bengals.

That's why experience, or the lack thereof, is going to be a topic of much discussion the next two weeks.

This is the time of the year when football people try to dream up reasons why the NFC team won't breeze to another Super Bowl victory.

The NFC is at eight straight, and the Cowboys come out of the NFC East, which has won four of the last six Super Bowls. The last AFC team to win a Super Bowl was the Los Angeles Raiders after the 1983 season.

But Super Bowl experience is the one area in which the Bills have an advantage. They are heading into their third straight.

The Cowboys' lack of experience didn't hurt them against the 49ers, who were making their fourth appearance in the NFC title game in the past five years.

On Sunday, the Cowboys didn't have a single player who was on their roster when they last played in the NFC title game in 1982. Jim Jeffcoat and Mark Tuinei, the oldest veterans in terms of service for the Cowboys, arrived in 1983.

"We didn't worry about the experience factor," Jeffcoat said. "We're a team that doesn't get upset. We're a team that gets fired up."

Thomas Everett, who was picked up this year in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers, said: "I guess everybody's surprised success has come this fast for the Cowboys. With all the wheeling and dealing Jimmy Johnson and [owner] Jerry Jones have done, I'm not too surprised."

It's also unlikely that the Cowboys will be satisfied with just getting to the Super Bowl. Johnson is too obsessed with winning let that happen.

When Johnson, who won the national championship at the University of Miami in 1987, was asked if this was comparable.

"Getting to a national championship game doesn't mean anything," he said. "Getting to the Super Bowl has a great feeling right now, but the only way that you really get the ecstasy of this profession is winning."

Johnson, who went 1-15 in 1989, his first season with the Cowboys, was asked if it was hard to believe he had come so far so fast.

"No, not really," he said.

One thing that will make the game difficult to handicap is that the Cowboys and Bills haven't played each other since 1984, when the Cowboys lost, 14-3, in Buffalo.

The teams were supposed to meet in 1987, but the game was wiped out by the strike. They're scheduled to play in the regular season next year.

Since Dallas was last in the Super Bowl in the 1978 season, all of the Super Bowl teams have met in the regular season either that season or the previous season.

Not that those games have been an accurate barometer of the Super Bowl matchup. The Bills, for example, beat the Giants in Giants Stadium in December 1990 and lost to them the next month in the Super Bowl when Scott Norwood's field-goal attempt was wide right.

John Taylor of the 49ers, who have lost to both teams, said he likes the matchup.

"It's going to be a good Super Bowl," he said. "I wouldn't make a pick right now, because they both have good teams. They both have good offenses, and they both have good defenses."

When he was asked if he thought it would be a high-scoring game, he said: "You would think yes, but, every time you do that, it never turns out that way."

Taylor also had another message after the 49ers' loss to the Cowboys.

He doesn't think the game marked a changing of the guard in the NFL. He told Ricky Watters and some of the younger players that the 49ers have better days ahead.

"I told them, 'You're young men, you got a lot of years yet to play. You're not going to win every game. You're not going win everything you're in. I don't know anybody who's ever won everything they went at. Just keep it together and come back next year.' "

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