• Image about Super Bowl Xlv
The brand-new Cowboys Stadium, home to Super Bowl XLV, in Arlington, Texas.
photographs by Manny Rodriguez
(Jan. 31, 1993)
Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17
Aikman was honored as the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XXVII, in which he threw for 273 yards and four touchdowns. It came following a season that saw the Cowboys win their first NFC title since 1979.

Heading into the ’92 season, we thought we had a good team. [Coach Jimmy Johnson] had set the bar for us, saying that anything short of playing in the NFC Championship Game would be a disappointment. As players, we thought this might’ve been a bit unrealistic. We knew we were good, but we didn’t know how good we could be. We just kept getting better.

When we traveled to San Francisco for the NFC Championship Game, it certainly wasn’t on my mind that I was one game away from the Super Bowl. But when we won, even before I showered, it hit me: “OK, now we have to win it.” It doesn’t much matter getting to the Super Bowl if you don’t win.

For a quarterback, there’s a tremendous amount of pressure. Super Bowls are forever archived in the history of the sport. It was important for me not only to win, but also to go out and play well. We all have bad games. I just didn’t want to have my bad game on the biggest stage there is.

Normally I’d get a little anxious, but I didn’t experience any of that during the week. I was very calm and at peace with the whole thing. What helped is that the game was being played at the Rose Bowl, where I played college ball, and we practiced at UCLA, where I spent three years as a student. It couldn’t have been more comfortable.

The night before the game, there was some Clint Eastwood western on TV — Jay Novacek was watching with me, along with Dale Hellestrae and John Gesek. And I heard this noise, so I looked outside. It was pouring down rain. That was when I got really anxious, because I cannot throw a wet ball. It’s just impossible for me to play in those conditions. I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Here I am, getting ready to play the biggest game of my career, and it’s going to rain and I’m not going to be worth a damn.”

I still slept well that night, much better than I typically would before a game. As soon as I woke up, I rushed over to the window. It was a beautiful morning.

At the stadium, it wasn’t until the player introductions that it hit me. Running out onto the field and hearing my name, I was flooded with the emotion and the pageantry and the electricity. It was unlike any other game I’d ever been a part of. At first, I was having a hard time calling plays in the huddle. I was having a hard time catching my breath. Everyone was. We were running plays that we’d been running all year long or had practiced for two weeks leading up to the game, but we made some mental mistakes where we couldn’t get guys lined up.

Then there was a third-and-18 that we faced. I completed a pass to Michael Irvin and picked up the first down. That settled me down and got us going. We wound up kind of running the Bills out of the stadium before halftime. There was only one time in my career where I raised my index finger to say “We’re No. 1,” and that was in the second half, right after a deep ball up the right sideline to Alvin Harper. That’s when I knew we’d won the game.

I always thought that at some point, I’d be a part of a world championship team and win a Super Bowl, but in ’92 we were only three years removed from being the worst team in the league. It was a very special year, one that was more fun because it was the first time that we accomplished it. We were a naive group of guys who enjoyed each and every victory, because we were doing something that we didn’t know we were capable of doing. I played 12 seasons and that was by far the most enjoyable year that I had.