2. But Brady’s Anonymous Bunch was better than the Triplets
Ask a random football fan from Oshkosh to name three offensive players from the 1992 Cowboys and they will, almost without fail, list Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith. The first two are already in the Hall of Fame and the other is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.
Ask the same random football fan from Oshkosh to name the top offensive weapons on the 2004 Patriots and he'll slur his words like a CHFF Troll after happy hour (10 a.m. to 10 p.m.) once he gets past Tom Brady. In fact, during New England's three championship seasons, Brady had a different leading receiver each year. Journeyman RB Antowain Smith, meanwhile, was New England’s leading rusher in 2001 and 2003, cranking out just 642 yards in that second Super Bowl season.
Brady got some aid in 2004, with the addition of Corey Dillon, an excellent back who had a career year with New England in 2004. He proved to be just the second Pro Bowler Brady had played with at that point in his career (the other was Troy Brown in 2001).
But if you think the Hall of Fame Triplets outperformed the Brady’s Anonymous Bunch, think again.
In fact it’s not even close.
The 2004 Patriots offense trumps the 1992 Cowboys offense in nearly every category. New England averaged more points per game, while outpacing Dallas in both rushing yards and passing yards. Brady put up a better passer rating than Aikman and averaged more passing yards per attempt. The 2004 Patriots were also better than the 1992 Cowboys when it came time to convert third downs (45 percent to 42 percent).
The 1992 Cowboys do trump the 2004 Patriots in two offensive categories, sacks allowed (23 to 26) and games of 30 or more points (7 to 6). But that’s it.
3. The 2004 Patriots might be the best big-game team in history
The most impressive aspect of the 14-2 season for the 2004 Patriots was not the record itself, but how they got there.
New England’s opponents in 2004 were 126-130 (.492), 17 games tougher than Dallas’ opponents, who were just 109-147 (.426).
The 2004 Patriots went 7-1 vs. Quality Opponents in the regular-season, and 10-1 including playoffs. Their only loss to a Quality Opponent was the 34-20 defeat at Pittsburgh that ended New England’s record 21-game win streak. That 2004 Steelers team, by the way, was no pushover. It went 15-1.
The 1992 Cowboys went 3-2 vs. Quality Opponents in the regular season, and 6-2 including playoffs.
The 2004 Patriots clearly faced and beat better competition. And the difference in quality of competition continued in the playoffs.
The playoff opponents of the 1992 Cowboys went 36-12 (.750) in the regular season. Their toughest playoff opponent was the 14-2 49ers, who would lose at home to Dallas in the NFC title game by 10 points.
The playoff opponents of the 2004 Patriots went 40-8 (.833) in the regular season. It was the toughest postseason schedule any Super Bowl champion has ever faced. Their toughest playoff opponent was the 15-1 Steelers, who would lose at home to New England in the AFC title game by 14 points.
The 2004 Patriots also accomplished a rare feat: they joined the 1988 49ers as the only teams in history to beat both the No. 1 scoring offense and No. 1 scoring defense in the same postseason.
4. Dallas took it to a new level in the playoffs
The 2004 Patriots were certainly better more consistently against tough competition than the 1992 Cowboys.
But Dallas was more dominant at its peak. The 1992 Cowboys outscored their three playoff opponents by an average of 23.0 PPG, compared with an average playoff victory of just 11.3 PPG for the 2004 Patriots.
The blowouts for the 1992 Cowboys reached a crescendo with their 52-17 win over the Bills in Super Bowl XXVII. The 35-point margin of victory was the third most ever, trailing only the 1985 Bears (who beat the Patriots by 36) and 1989 49ers (who beat the Broncos by 45).
The 2004 Patriots did not beat a postseason opponent by more than 17 points. And instead of a 35-point blowout on Super Bowl Sunday, the Patriots held on for a 3-point victory over the Eagles.
The 1992 Cowboys clearly won more impressively in the championship game.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
The Bottom Line
Fans who believe the best Cowboys team of the 1990s dynasty was better than the best Patriots team of the 21st-century dynasty point to two key factors:
the Cowboys fielded the feared “Triplets” while and Patriots were seemingly filled by no-names beyond the quarterback. the Cowboys blew out the Bills in the Super Bowl, while the Patriots fought to a three-point victory over the Eagles.
Certainly, if you put your faith in bigger names and a single bigger game, the 1992 Cowboys were the better team.
But if you put your faith in the Cold, Hard Football Facts and in an ability to beat top competition week after week, perhaps no team in history was better than the 2004 Patriots.
No matter the names on the marquee, the 2004 Patriots beat better teams more often, more consistently and by more points than the 1992 Cowboys. That makes the best of the New England dynasty better than the best of the Dallas dynasty.
PFT: Defensive end finally finds a new team in San Diego — and for a honey of a deal that would be worth a max of $13.35 million.
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Patriots 48, Cowboys 27