49ERS Cowboys haven't forgotten star stunt
Terrell Owen's touchdown celebration is still fresh in many players' minds.
IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Long before Terrell Owens pulled a pen out of his sock to sign a football after scoring, the San Francisco receiver had a pair of infamous touchdown celebrations at the center of Texas Stadium.
And Dallas hasn't forgotten what Owens did two years ago, when after both of his touchdown catches he ran to midfield to dance on the Cowboys' famed star logo.
"Him doing that, yeah, we remember," said Cowboys defensive end Greg Ellis. "That's in my mind. It's probably in everybody's mind on our team that was in that game."
Missing today will be George Teague, the former Cowboys safety who ended Owens' second celebration with a crushing hit at midfield. Both got fined by the league, and Owens was suspended for a game by the 49ers.
Owens already has been back to Texas Stadium, going without a score or celebration in Dallas' victory last season. But his signing stunt during a Monday night game at Seattle in October reminded the Cowboys of the outrageous antics Owens is capable of.
The Cowboys know the best way for a repeat of 2001, instead of 2000, is to keep Owens out of the end zone.
"It's not about defending the star. It's about going out and playing hard," said Emmitt Smith, whose NFL career-leading rushing total is at 17,021 yards. "If we do our job, we won't have to worry about defending the star. He's a great player, but it's not just about Terrell Owens."
Smith does know how to respond to Owens. After scoring following Owens' first star dance two years ago, Smith sprinted to the logo with his helmet off and slammed the ball down to reclaim the home turf.
This week, a bulletin board at the Cowboys' facility featured several Sharpie pens hanging from strings, with pictures of Owens as a backdrop.
Dallas (5-7) is trying to win three straight for the first time since a 3-0 start in 1999. The Cowboys have matched their win total from each of the last two years.
"This is an important game, an emotional game," said Cowboys coach Dave Campo. "We're trying to get better and improve. They're fighting for the playoffs."
If the 49ers (8-4) beat Dallas and St. Louis loses to Kansas City, San Francisco clinches the NFC West for the first time since 1997.
"We look at it as a game we have to win. Every game from here on out separates teams," said Derrick Deese, an 11th-year tackle for the 49ers. "You don't want to finish the season going down, and then try to climb back for the playoffs."
Dallas and San Francisco used to meet in the playoffs, including six NFC championship games. It's been eight years since their last postseason matchup, but the history can't be ignored.
"I haven't been a part of it, but everybody knows there's a rivalry between these teams," said safety Tony Parrish, who joined the 49ers this year. "It's great when the extra intensity and emotion is flowing."
This will be their sixth meeting since the 1994 NFC championship game won by the 49ers. That's the longest stretch of non-playoff games between both five-time Super Bowl champions since their first postseason meeting in 1970.