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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cowboys, Steelers Advance to Super Bowl XXX

COMBINED REPORTS


IRVING, Texas -- The team considered too distracted to advance to the Super Bowl left the road there bloodied and burned with a 38-27 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the National Football Conference championship game at Texas Stadium.


The next thing the Dallas Cowboys did Sunday night was predict a win.


"We're not going to the Super Bowl, we're going home," said receiver Michael Irvin of the matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Tempe, Arizona, on Jan. 28. "It's our house. Last year we just let somebody borrow it."


Bookies seemed to agree, as Dallas opened as an 11 1/2-point favorite in Super Bowl XXX over the Steelers, who beat the Indianapolis Colts 20-16 to win the American Football Conference title.


Cowboys 38, Packers 27. Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith scored three touchdowns, gained 150 yards rushing on 35 carries and once again reaffirmed his reputation as the most dangerous man in the NFL playoffs.


Dallas was ahead 14-3 by late in the first quarter, after Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre threw an interception that set up a 4-yard Irvin touchdown.


But the Packers rallied with touchdowns passes of 73 yards to Robert Brooks and 24 yards to Keith Jackson.


Then, just before the half, Smith scored from the one to give Dallas a 24-17 edge. The lead changed hands five times in all, before Dallas went ahead for good on a five-yard Smith run in the last quarter.


Favre, the league's most valuable player, threw his most costly interception on a pass he never should have let go early in the fourth quarter.


With his team trailing by four points with 10 minutes to play, Favre had a first down at his 46, and rolled out to his right. Just before he stepped out of bounds, Favre tried to thread the ball downfield to wide receiver Mark Ingram.


Dallas cornerback Larry Brown intercepted easily, then ran 28 yards down the sideline to the Cowboys 48. On first down, Irvin, battling cornerback Doug Evans for the ball, made a spectacular 36-yard catch. Smith took care of the rest with a 16-yard dash for the final points of the game. The Cowboys won their sixth straight over the Packers.


Steelers 20, Colts 16. The game in Pittsburgh came down to the final play and a 45-yard Hail Mary pass.


But in the end the ball skidded down Colts receiver Aaron Bailey's chest and touched the turf at Three Rivers Stadium, thereby ending the Colts' season and giving the Steelers the win and the trip to the Super Bowl.


"Everyone thought we were a million-to-one shot, so why not?" Bailey said. "I had it for a split second. Between the time I was in the air, I guess I bumped into someone else or the ground caused it, I can't really tell. At one time, I did have the ball and it came out. It hurts."


A year ago, the Steelers lost the AFC title game to San Diego when Chargers quarterback Stan Humphries threw a late go-ahead touchdown pass and then-Chargers linebacker Dennis Gibson knocked down a pass from Steelers quarterback Neil O'Donnell to running back Barry Foster at the San Diego 3-yard line.


"We almost pulled it out," said Jim Harbaugh, who completed 21 of 33 passes for 267 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. "Our guys played with a lot of courage and I love 'em for that."


The Colts were victimized by O'Donnell (25 of 41, 205 yards) late in the second quarter. He gave the Steelers a 10-6 halftime lead on a pass that should not have counted, because receiver Kordell Stewart stepped on the back line of the end zone before making the catch.


Despite that bad break, the Colts had several late chances to win. With under four minutes to go, on third-and-one from the Colts' 31, Steelers cornerback Willie Williams raced in to trip running back Lamont Warren, forcing a punt.


On the ensuing Pittsburgh possession, Colts linebacker Quentin Coryatt dropped a potential interception with less than three minutes left when receiver Ernie Mills grabbed his arm.


Three plays later, O'Donnell hit Mills for a 37-yard gain to the Colts' 1-yard line before Bam Morris scored the decisive touchdown.


Then, in nine plays, Harbaugh got them to the Steelers 29, with five seconds and one pass left. Hail Mary.


"Deja vu entered my mind when that ball was in the air," coach Bill Cowher said, referring to last year's AFC title game.


"With the last play of a championship and everything riding on it, I'm 1-1. It's better than being 0-2."


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