This Thanksgiving, the Dallas Cowboys overcame a 14-point deficit to overcome the Oakland Raiders 31-24. While this has only happened on Thanksgiving one more time before in Cowboys’ history, for Dallas head coach Jason Garrett this scenario was all too familiar.
The year was 1994. The day was Thanksgiving. The opponent was the Green Bay Packers. These were the glory days of the triplets. However, in this fated Thanksgiving game, star quarterback Troy Aikman was out with injury. If that was not dismal enough, second string quarterback Rodney Peete also was injured, leaving the game on the shoulders of then third string quarterback, Jason Garrett.
This was Garrett’s second only career start against Brett Favre and the Packers. The Cowboys looked doomed in the first half as Green Bay dominated 17-6 at halftime. Garrett and the offense just could not click.
In the second half, however, the tide turned. The Cowboys amassed 36 points over the last two quarters. Garrett sailed one to Alvin Harper for a 45-yard touchdown. He then found Michael Irvin for a 36-yarder. A hook up with Emmitt Smith for 63 yards led to another touchdown.
Brett Favre did quite well passing for 257 yards for four touchdowns, however – this was Jason Garrett’s game. Despite completing only 15-of-26 passes, he accumulated 311 yards scoring two touchdowns along the way. In just the first five possessions of the second half, he strategically led the Cowboys down the field in scoring drives.
This Thanksgiving Day game is epic in Cowboys’ history. Accordingly, it is also known as “The Jason Garrett Game.”
Fast forward to nineteen years later and today’s Thanksgiving Day game saw the Cowboys in an uncannily familiar bad situation. Rookie Terrence Williams fumbled on opening kickoff just 12 seconds into the game handing the Raiders their first touchdown. At that point, it seemed like the double jinx brought on by the Navy jerseys and the SI cover feature of Tony Romo were inescapable. On top of everything else, Romo had been suffering from a virus that had him sick from Wednesday night.
With 1:56 left in the first half, Romo had completed just 6 of 13 for 55 yards. The Cowboys were already down 21-7 at this point. And that’s when Romo got his mojo back. He completed 5 of 7 passes to drive the Cowboys from their 27 to Oakland’s 4-yard line with only 14 seconds left to spare. DeMarco Murray ended the drive for a touchdown.
“To have the opening kickoff fumbled and returned for a touchdown and then be down a couple of scores in the first half, nobody blinked,” said Jason Garrett. “The momentum kind of turned and I think guys started feeling pretty good and it just continued.”
The Cowboys tied the game with a short pass to Dez Bryant in the third quarter. They finally took their first lead of 28-21 when Murray scored his third touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter.
They went on to defeat the Raiders 31-24 in a heroic comeback. The excitement in Jason Garrett’s face was hard to miss as the Cowboys scored a field goal in the final quarter. It must have been a very nostalgic day for the third string, comeback quarterback of 1994’s Thanksgiving Day game.
By Fatema Biviji