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Best moments in Dallas Cowboys history

The return the Cowboys received trading Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings led, in part, to three Super Bowl titles for the Dallas Cowboys. (AP)

What are the best moments for each NFL franchise? Yahoo Sports provides our opinion, which you are free to disagree with (and we’re sure you will).

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5. The Herschel Walker trade

Acquiring Herschel Walker, one of the greatest running backs in football history, was supposed to bring the Dallas Cowboys back to glory. Instead, trading him did. With Dallas looking hopeless at 0-5 to start the 1989 season, Jimmy Johnson decided to deal his best player, who had made the Pro Bowl the previous two seasons. The blockbuster deal with Minnesota – the largest player trade in NFL history – involved 18 players and draft choices, including seven picks that the Cowboys used to stockpile talent for the decade ahead. Emmitt Smith, who became the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, and safety Darren Woodson were just two of the selections directly attributable to the “Trade that made the Cowboys Dynasty,” as Dallas won three Super Bowls in the next six years.

4. Hail Mary to Drew Pearson

The Cowboys have had many momentous and famous plays in their history, including Tony Dorsett’s 99-yard touchdown run against the Minnesota Vikings in 1983. But it was QB Roger Staubach’s pass to WR Drew Pearson against the same opponent seven years earlier that became truly iconic. Trailing the Vikings 14-10 in the 1975 NFC divisional playoff round, Dallas had the ball at midfield with 32 seconds left. In desperation mode, Staubach launched a high-arching pass to Pearson, who came back for the underthrown ball and caught it as Minnesota defensive back Nate Wright fell down (possibly with some help from Pearson, who then stepped into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown). Staubach, a devout Catholic, said of the play, “I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary.” Ever since then, desperation throws in similar circumstances have been called Hail Marys, though few of those prayers have been answered.

3. Drafting Roger Staubach

In 1964, only four years into their NFL existence, the Cowboys were far-sighted enough to select Roger Staubach, the Navy quarterback who had just won the Heisman Trophy, in the 10th round of the draft. Why so late? Because Staubach, then a junior, still had to play his senior season, followed by a four-year military commitment. He didn’t begin his NFL career until 1969, when he was already 27, but he proved to be well worth the wait. In nine seasons as a starter, Staubach made six Pro Bowls and led the Cowboys to four Super Bowls, including their first championships in 1971 and 1977. Talk about deferred gratification.

2. Super Bowl XXVII

In the third-biggest rout in Super Bowl history, the Cowboys obliterated the Buffalo Bills at the Rose Bowl, forcing nine turnovers and getting four Troy Aikman touchdown passes in a 52-17 win. It wasn’t the first or last Super Bowl victory for Dallas, but it was the most dominating – and the most telling because not only were the Cowboys back on top of the NFL, they were ready to rule again. That championship kicked off a run of three in four seasons, making the early-’90s Cowboys one of the greatest NFL dynasties.

1. ‘How ‘bout them Cowboys’

For a franchise with five Super Bowl titles, why was the 1992 NFC championship game the Cowboys’ best moment? Because for Dallas fans who suffered through San Francisco’s reign in the 1980s, beating the 49ers felt so, so good. After all, the Cowboys entered Candlestick Park with an enormously talented young roster but as significant underdogs to Steve Young, Jerry Rice and Co. So when Dallas pulled off the 30-20 upset with a fearless gameplan, it felt like a changing of the guard — and it was. Coach Jimmy Johnson seemed to sense what had just happened — and what was to come — when he stood on a chair in the victorious locker room and shouted the phrase that will echo forever in franchise history: “How ‘bout them Cowboys!?!”