It's been 27 years since the Dallas Cowboys beat Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers, 38-27, in the 1995 NFC Championship game, before beating Bill Cowher's Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-17, in Super Bowl XXX.
That's the last time Dallas has made it as far as a conference championship game. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more disappointing playoff stretch for any franchise than the Cowboys' over this time.
They've endured 12 playoff exits since then, the most recent a 19-12 defeat to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Here's a number and fact for each one, to sum up the postseason agony for America's Team.
1. Teams worth $8 billion in sports (2022 Cowboys)
There's ONE team worth $8 billion in sports. It's just the 2022 Cowboys, according to Forbes. They've been the most valuable NFL franchise for 14 straight years. They say money can't buy you happiness. Well, it can't buy you a championship either.
2. Cowboys' times with No. 1 seed since 1996
Dallas has had the No. 1 seed TWO times since 1996. In 2007, it went one-and-done against the Giants and Terrell Owens got emotional defending Tony Romo during an infamous postgame interview, "That's my quarterback." In 2016, the Cowboys lost after Aaron Rodgers' iconic sideline throw to Jared Cook set up the game-winning field goal.
3. Dez Bryant catches in 2014 playoff loss
Dez Bryant had THREE catches in the Cowboys' 26-21 divisional-round loss at Lambeau Field in 2014. It would have been four if replay review didn't overturn his controversial no-catch. Had the catch stood up, Dallas could have taken the lead in the final minutes of the game.
4. Mike McCarthy losses vs. 49ers in postseason
Mike McCarthy fell to 0-4 in his playoff career vs. the 49ers (two losses with the Packers and two with the Cowboys), tying Tom Landry (vs. Rams) for the most losses by a head coach against a single team in NFL playoff history (source: ESPN Stats & Info). And a bonus No. 4: Brett Maher missed FOUR extra points in the Cowboys' wild-card win against the Buccaneers. It was the most missed extra points by any kicker in NFL history, regular season or playoffs. It didn't cost them in that game, but perhaps epitomized the Cowboys' miscues and bad fortune during their playoff drought.
5. Dak Prescott playoff interceptions in his career
Dak Prescott was picked off twice by the 49ers in Sunday's loss, giving him FIVE interceptions in six career playoff games. And a bonus No. 5: Dak Prescott became the first player in NFL history to lead the NFL in interceptions (15) despite missing FIVE-plus games.
6. Teams without a conference championship game since 1996
SIX teams have failed to play in a Conference Championship game since 1996: the Cowboys, Texans, Browns, Lions, Dolphins and Commanders. Not exactly the franchises you would normally associate Dallas with. The Cowboys are the only team in that group with a winning record in the regular season over that span.
7. Cowboys' one-and-done postseason trips since 1996
The Cowboys have gone one-and-done SEVEN times since 1996. That's a lot of quick exits. The only team with more in that span is the Colts with 10. Dallas' most painful early exit was a 21-20 loss in Seattle in the 2006 wild card round when Tony Romo mishandled a snap on the Cowboys' potential go-ahead 19-yard field goal attempt. They avoided a one-and-done this postseason but still could not snap their Conference Championship drought.
8. Cowboys' playoff losing streak as an underdog
After their loss to San Francisco, the Cowboys have lost EIGHT straight playoff games as an underdog. Their last win was in the 1992 NFC Championship game at Candlestick Park in California.
9. Seconds left after Dak Prescott's slide in playoff loss to 49ers
There were NINE seconds left on the clock after Dak Prescott's slide against the 49ers in last year's 23-17 wild card playoff loss. Prescott was bumped by an official as Dallas scrambled to spike the ball with no timeouts left, to no avail. Executed properly and the Cowboys would have had one play left at San Francisco's 24-yard line to win the game. That's been close enough for other teams, --namely the 49ers in "The Catch II" -- to score last-second game-winning touchdowns in the postseason.
10: CeeDee Lamb catches in loss to 49ers
CeeDee Lamb had TEN catches in Dallas' loss to the 49ers on Sunday, tied for the third-most in a playoff game in Cowboys history. It wasn't enough to propel Dallas to a win.
11: Micah Parsons' jersey number
Number ELEVEN, Micah Parsons, did all he could for the Cowboys this postseason. He had 14 pressures, five more than any other player in the NFL this postseason. He led a stingy defense that held the 49ers to 19 points Sunday in a losing effort. It was Dallas' first playoff loss when allowing fewer than 20 points since the 1976 postseason against the Rams. It had won 18 straight playoff games when allowing fewer than 20 points.
12: Cowboys' consecutive playoff appearances without a conference championship game
The Cowboys have made TWELVE straight playoff appearances without a trip to a conference championship game. Dallas' early exit streak has gone on for such a long time that it's now the longest drought of its kind in playoff history. Yes, no other team has gone this many consecutive playoff trips without at least reaching an AFC or NFC title game.