Three-peats and playoffs: It has happened before

Saturday’s NFC playoff game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys marks the 20th time since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger teams have met a third time in a season — twice in the regular season and again in the playoffs.

Twelve of the matchups resulted in sweeps, the most recent being last season, when the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers met in the AFC championship game. The Steelers won 23-14 and went on to win the Super Bowl.

Dallas has failed in two previous attempts to pull off the three-peat. In 1998 they lost to the Cardinals; in 2007 they lost to the Giants, both part of the franchise’s 13-year postseason drought.

Vinnie Iyer looks deeper into Saturday’s 8 p.m. ET playoff game and how the Eagles and Cowboys got there.

Here’s a look at the 19 previous playoff games in which teams met for the third time in one season:

Year Season Playoffs
1982 Dolphins over Jets Won
1983 Seahawks over Raiders Lost
1986 Giants over Redskins Won
1989 Oilers over Steelers Lost
1991 Chiefs over Raiders Won
1992 Chiefs over Chargers Lost
1993 Raiders over Broncos Won
1994 Vikings over Bears Lost
1994 Steelers over Browns Won
1997 Patriots over Dolphins Won
1997 Packers over Buccaneers Won
1998 Cowboys over Cardinals Lost
1999 Titans over Jaguars Won
2000 Giants over Eagles Won
2002 Steelers over Browns Won
2004 Rams over Seahawks Won
2004 Packers over Vikings Lost
2007 Cowboys over Giants Lost
2008 Steelers over Ravens Won

This season, the Cowboys won twice against the Eagles:

Week 9: Cowboys 20, Eagles 16
Tony Romo threw a 49-yard TD pass to Austin midway through the fourth quarter to decide the 100th meeting between the division rivals. Romo finished 21 of 34 for 307 yards, one TD and one interception. 

The Cowboys began their go-ahead drive after stopping McNabb on fourth-and-inches at their 45. The Eagles challenged, but a replay upheld the original spot.
 
On third-and-14, Romo fooled Sheldon Brown with a pump-fake and hit a wide-open Austin down the left sideline to give Dallas a 20-13 lead.
 
"I gave them a little pump,” Romo said. "I thought they’d been jumping it a little and they went for it.”
 
David Akers kicked a 52-yard field goal to cut it to 20-16, but the Eagles never got the ball back. The Cowboys maintained possession the final 4:27. 

McNabb threw for 227 yards, one TD and was intercepted twice for the first time this season. 

Week 17: Cowboys 24, Eagles 0
Romo threw two early touchdown passes and the defense took over. The Cowboys won the NFC East to be host for a rematch in the first round of the playoffs. They also posted consecutive shutouts for the first time in team history, Romo and the entire offense setting all sorts of single-season records, having a winning record after Dec. 1 for the first time since 1996 and ending a nine-game losing streak in season finales.

McNabb threw for 223 yards and the Eagles gained just 228 overall. The Cowboys had 291 yards by halftime, on their way to gaining 474.

Philadelphia’s game-breaking receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin failed to have any plays longer than 32 yards, and that was better than they did in the first matchup. The defense saw Romo go 24-of-34 for 311 yards

Saturday’s NFC playoff game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys marks the 20th time since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger teams have met a third time in a season — twice in the regular season and again in the playoffs.

Twelve of the matchups resulted in sweeps, the most recent being last season, when the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers met in the AFC championship game. The Steelers won 23-14 and went on to win the Super Bowl.

Dallas has failed in two previous attempts to pull off the three-peat. In 1998 they lost to the Cardinals; in 2007 they lost to the Giants, both part of the franchise’s 13-year postseason drought.

Vinnie Iyer looks deeper into Saturday’s 8 p.m. ET playoff game and how the Eagles and Cowboys got there.

Here’s a look at the 19 previous playoff games in which teams met for the third time in one season:

Year Season Playoffs
1982 Dolphins over Jets Won
1983 Seahawks over Raiders Lost
1986 Giants over Redskins Won
1989 Oilers over Steelers Lost
1991 Chiefs over Raiders Won
1992 Chiefs over Chargers Lost
1993 Raiders over Broncos Won
1994 Vikings over Bears Lost
1994 Steelers over Browns Won
1997 Patriots over Dolphins Won
1997 Packers over Buccaneers Won
1998 Cowboys over Cardinals Lost
1999 Titans over Jaguars Won
2000 Giants over Eagles Won
2002 Steelers over Browns Won
2004 Rams over Seahawks Won
2004 Packers over Vikings Lost
2007 Cowboys over Giants Lost
2008 Steelers over Ravens Won

This season, the Cowboys won twice against the Eagles:

Week 9: Cowboys 20, Eagles 16
Tony Romo threw a 49-yard TD pass to Austin midway through the fourth quarter to decide the 100th meeting between the division rivals. Romo finished 21 of 34 for 307 yards, one TD and one interception. 

The Cowboys began their go-ahead drive after stopping McNabb on fourth-and-inches at their 45. The Eagles challenged, but a replay upheld the original spot.
 
On third-and-14, Romo fooled Sheldon Brown with a pump-fake and hit a wide-open Austin down the left sideline to give Dallas a 20-13 lead.
 
"I gave them a little pump,” Romo said. "I thought they’d been jumping it a little and they went for it.”
 
David Akers kicked a 52-yard field goal to cut it to 20-16, but the Eagles never got the ball back. The Cowboys maintained possession the final 4:27. 

McNabb threw for 227 yards, one TD and was intercepted twice for the first time this season. 

Week 17: Cowboys 24, Eagles 0
Romo threw two early touchdown passes and the defense took over. The Cowboys won the NFC East to be host for a rematch in the first round of the playoffs. They also posted consecutive shutouts for the first time in team history, Romo and the entire offense setting all sorts of single-season records, having a winning record after Dec. 1 for the first time since 1996 and ending a nine-game losing streak in season finales.

McNabb threw for 223 yards and the Eagles gained just 228 overall. The Cowboys had 291 yards by halftime, on their way to gaining 474.

Philadelphia’s game-breaking receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin failed to have any plays longer than 32 yards, and that was better than they did in the first matchup. The defense saw Romo go 24-of-34 for 311 yards

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