One of the greatest coaches - and definitely one of the finest men ever - Tom Landry, limped to the finish. His last season as coach ended with a 3-13 record. A few months later, after joining the army, I heard during basic training that some upstart named Jerry Jones had bought the beloved Cowboys and had FIRED Coach Landry. My heart was broken.
His successor, Jimmy Johnson, finished his first year at 1-15. Rough times. Things improved the next year, and the Cowboys actually had a shot at the playoffs, but injuries to key players, especially Troy Aikman, caused the team to finish 7-9.
Then came 1991. No, we didn't win the Superbowl, heck, we didn't even win the division. But we made the playoffs as a wildcard and on December 29, 1991, the Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears in the wildcard game. It was their first playoff win in several years. I think we were still trying to recover (as fans) from the 3-13 and 1-15 years. Suddenly, we saw we were back.
That night, I called my High School friend Darren and the first words out of our mouths to each other was, "We're back!" I am sure the 1992 and 1993 teams will make my great memories breakdown, but they followed the rekindling year of 1991. The day we realized that we were back. You can read about it here.