History of the Dallas Cowboys

History of the Dallas Cowboys

This article details the history of the Dallas Cowboys American Football Club. The team joined the National Football League as a 1960 expansion team, and has become one of the most successful teams in the history of the NFL and in American sports overall. The team has earned the longest streak of consecutive winning seasons with 20, the most postseason appearances (28, which includes another league record of 54 postseason games, winning 32 of them), the most appearances in the NFC Championship Game (14), and the most Super Bowl appearances (8), two more than any other NFL team. The Cowboys also played in 2 NFL championship games before the NFL-AFL merger. The Cowboys became the first team in NFL history to win 3 Super Bowls in just 4 years. They are also tied with the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers for having the most Super Bowl wins (5).


The Dallas Cowboys were the NFL's first modern-era expansion team. The NFL was late in awarding a franchise to Dallas; after Lamar Hunt was rebuffed in his efforts to acquire an NFL franchise for Dallas, he became part of a group of owners that formed the American Football League with Hunt's AFL franchise in Dallas known as the Texans (later to become the Kansas City Chiefs). In an effort not to cede the South to the AFL, the NFL awarded Dallas a franchise, but not until after the 1960 college draft had been held. As a result, the NFL's first ever expansion team played its inaugural season without the benefit of a college draft.

Originally, the formation of an NFL expansion team in Texas was met with strong opposition by Washington Redskins owner, George Preston Marshall. This was no surprise, because despite being located in the nation's capital, Marshall's Redskins had enjoyed a monopoly as the only NFL team to represent the Southern States of the US for several decades. This came as little surprise to would-be team owners, Clint Murchison, Jr. and Bedford Wynne, so to ensure the birth of their expansion team, the men bought the rights to the Redskins fight song, "Hail to the Redskins" and threatened to refuse to allow Marshall to play the song at games. Needing the song, which had become a staple for his "professional football team of Dixie", Marshall changed his mind, and the city of Dallas, Texas, was granted an NFL franchise on January 28 1960. This early confrontation between the two franchises helped to trigger what would become one of the more significant rivalries in the NFL, which continues to this day.

The team was first known as the Dallas Steers, then the Dallas Rangers before settling on the name "Cowboys" for the 1960 season. The new Dallas owners, Murchison and Wynne, subsequently hired Tex Schramm as general manager, Gil Brandt as player personnel director, and Tom Landry as head coach. [ [http://www.profootballhof.com/history/team.jsp?franchise_id=9 Team - Pro Football Hall of Fame ] ] The Cowboys began play in 1960, and played their home games a few miles east of Downtown Dallas at the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys' finished their inaugural campaign 0-11-1 with a roster largely made up of sub-par players (many well past their prime), stocked via an expansion draft. The following year, the Cowboys made their first college draft selection, taking Texas Christian University defensive tackle Bob Lilly with the 13th pick in the draft (although the Cowboys finished with the league's worst record in 1960, the first overall selection in the 1961 draft was given to the expansion Minnesota Vikings). The 1961 season also saw the Cowboys' first victory, a 27-24 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 17.

During the early and mid 1960s, the Cowboys gradually built a contender. Quarterback Don Meredith was acquired in 1960, running back Don Perkins, linebacker Chuck Howley and Lilly were added in 1961, linebacker Lee Roy Jordan in 1963, cornerback Mel Renfro in 1964, and wide receiver Bob Hayes and running back Dan Reeves in 1965. In 1966 the Cowboys posted their first winning record, finishing atop the Eastern Conference with a 10-3-1 record. Dallas sent eight players to the Pro Bowl, including Hayes, Howley, Meredith, Perkins, and future Pro Football Hall of Fame members Lilly and Renfro. In their first-ever postseason appearance, the 1966 NFL Championship Game the Green Bay Packers defeated Dallas in a 34-27 thriller by stopping the Cowboys on a goal line stand with 28 seconds remaining. Despite this disappointment, 1966 marked the start of an NFL-record-setting eight consecutive postseason appearances for the Cowboys. (Dallas later broke its own record with nine consecutive trips to the playoffs between 1975-1983).

As the Cowboys' on-field talent grew, so did their stature within the Dallas community. Early on, the Cowboys had competed for the affections of the people of Dallas with Lamar Hunt's Dallas Texans of the AFL. Although the Texans had enjoyed more success than the Cowboys, in 1963 the popularity of the Cowboys drove the Texans out of Dallas to Kansas City where they became the Chiefs.

In 1967 the Cowboys finished with a 9-5 record and had their first playoff victory, a 52-14 rout of the Cleveland Browns. They went on to face the Packers in the 1967 NFL Championship game, with the winner advancing to Super Bowl II. The game, which happened on December 31, 1967 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, turned out to be the coldest NFL game in history (about -13° F with a -40° wind chill). The Cowboys lost 21-17 on a one-yard quarterback sneak by Packers quarterback Bart Starr with 16 seconds remaining. The game would later become known as the "Ice Bowl".

In 1969, ground was broken on a new stadium for the Cowboys to replace the Cotton Bowl. Texas Stadium in Irving, a Dallas suburb, would be completed during the 1971 season.


In the 1970s, the NFL underwent many changes as it absorbed the AFL and became a unified league, but the Cowboys also underwent many changes. Meredith and Perkins retired in 1969 and new players were joining the organization, like Cliff Harris, Lee Roy Jordan, and Pro Football Hall of Famers Rayfield Wright, Mike Ditka, Herb Adderly and Roger Staubach. Led by quarterback Craig Morton, the Cowboys made it to their first Super Bowl, a mistake-filled Super Bowl V, where they lost 16-13 to the Baltimore Colts courtesy of a field goal by Colts' kicker Jim O'Brien with five seconds remaining in the contest.

The Cowboys moved from the Cotton Bowl to Texas Stadium in week six of the 1971 season. Although the first game in their new home was a 44-21 victory over New England, Dallas stumbled out of the gate by going 4-3 in the first half of the season, including losses to the mediocre New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears. Landry named Staubach as the permanent starting quarterback to start the second half of the season, and Dallas was off and running. The Cowboys won their last seven regular season games before dispatching of the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs to return to the Super Bowl. In Super Bowl VI, behind an MVP performance from Staubach and 252 yards rushing, the Cowboys crushed the upstart Miami Dolphins, 24-3, to finally shake the moniker of "Next Year's Champions". That game remains the only Super Bowl where a team has held their opponent without a touchdown.

The 1972 season was another winning season for the Cowboys, but their 10-4 record was only good for them to make the playoffs as a wild-card team. In the divisional playoffs they faced the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers had a 28-13 lead and seemed to have avenged their playoff losses to Dallas in the two previous seasons. But after Landry benched Morton, Staubach threw two touchdown passes with less than two minutes remaining -- including the game-winner to Ron Sellers -- for a miraculous 30-28 Dallas win, the first of several dramatic comebacks led by Staubach during the 1970s.

The Cowboys were now beginning to grow in popularity not just in Dallas, but nationwide. Their televised appearances on Thanksgiving Day games beginning in 1966 helped bring the Cowboys to a nationwide audience. Under Coach Landry, the so-called "Doomsday Defense" became a powerful and dominating force in the NFL and their offense was also exciting to watch. Dallas had also established itself as the most innovative franchise off the field. It was the first to use computers in scouting, the first to have a modern cheerleading squad performing sophisticated coreographed routines, and the first to broadcast games in Spanish. General manager Schramm became the most powerful general manager in the NFL; it was he who pushed the league to adopt changes such as relocating the goal posts to the back of the end zone and (in the 1980s) the use of instant replay. While Pittsburgh would win more Super Bowls in the 1970s, Dallas emerged as the "glamour" team of the decade.

The Cowboys faltered slightly in 1974, finishing 8-6 and missing the playoffs for the first time in eight years. However, the Cowboys drafted well in the following year, adding defensive lineman Randy White (a future Hall of Fame member) and linebacker Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson. The fresh influx of talent helped the Cowboys to Super Bowl X, where they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-17. But the Cowboys would again taste Super Bowl victory, defeating the Denver Broncos 27-10 in Super Bowl XII. Bob Ryan, an NFL films editor, would dub the Cowboys "America's Team" following this season, a nickname that has earned derision from non-Cowboys fans but has stuck through both good times and bad.

The Cowboys began the 1977 season 8-0 before losing in consecutive weeks to the St. Louis Cardinals in a Monday night home game and the Steelers in Pittsburgh. After the losses, however, the Cowboys won their final four regular season games. In the postseason, the Cowboys routed the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings before defeating the Broncos in the Super Bowl at New Orleans.

After a slow start in 1978, Dallas won its final six regular season games to finish the season at 12-4. After an unexpectedly close divisional playoff game against the Falcons at Texas Stadium, the Cowboys traveled to Los Angeles and crushed the Rams in the NFC Championship Game 28-0. Dallas then faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIII at the Orange Bowl in Miami. The Steelers outlasted the Cowboys 35-31, despite a furious comeback that saw Dallas score two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter; the game was not decided until the final 20 seconds, when a Dallas onside kick failed.

Dallas finished the 1979 season 11-5. The team slumped in November, but rallied to win its next two games. This set the stage for the regular season finale against Washington; the winner would capture the NFC East title while the loser missed the playoffs. In the game, Texas Stadium fans were treated to one of Staubach's greatest comebacks. The Cowboys trailed 17-0, but then scored three touchdowns to take the lead. Led by running back John Riggins, the Redskins came back to build a 34-21 lead, but the Cowboys scored 2 touchdowns in the final five minutes -- including a Staubach touchdown pass Tony Hill with less than a minute remaining -- for an amazing 35-34 victory. The season ended with a whimper, however, as the underdog Rams traveled to Dallas and upset the Cowboys 21-19 in the opening round of the playoffs. This game marked the end of an era, as repeated concussions compelled Staubach to announce his retirement a few months later in an emotional press conference at Texas Stadium.


Danny White became the Cowboys' starting quarterback in 1980 and held the job through 1987. Fueled by a potent offense led by White, Dallas finished the 1980 season 12-4. Philadelphia also finished 12-4, but claimed the division crown on tiebreakers. The Cowboys won the wildcard game at home against the Rams, then White engineered a late comeback to win the divisional playoff game in Atlanta. Dallas faced the Eagles the NFC Championship Game, but lost 20-7 on a frigid afternoon in Philadelphia.

Dallas started the 1981 season 4-0, and captured the NFC East crown with another 12-4 record. Dallas dismantled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the divisional playoff 38-0. They then traveled to San Francisco to face the 49ers In the 1981 NFC Championship Game. It would be one of the most famous in NFL history. Dallas led 27-21 late in the fourth quarter and appeared headed to their sixth Super Bowl. However, a long 49er drive was capped by a Joe Montana touchdown pass to Dwight Clark in the final minute of play. Dallas was not finished yet. A White completion to Drew Pearson moved the ball into 49er territory and almost went for a touchdown. Two plays later, though, White fumbled after being hit, and San Francisco recovered to seal a 28-27 victory. Clark's leaping grab in the end zone would come to be famous as "The Catch," and represented a changing of the guard in the NFC from the dominant Cowboys teams of the 1970s to the dominant 49ers teams of the 1980s.

Dallas finished the strike-shortened 1982 season with a record of 6-3. The Cowboys held a one game lead over the Redskins with two games to play in the regular season, but fell at home to Philadelphia, then lost a Monday night match in Minnesota (a game best known for Dorsett's NFL record 99-yard touchdown run) . Dallas played two home games in the unusual postseason "Super Bowl Tournament," defeating Tampa Bay and Green Bay. In the 1982 NFC Championship Game, Washington defeated Dallas 31-17 at RFK Stadium. This finished a remarkable run that saw the Cowboys play in 10 of 13 conference championship games.

The Cowboys opened the 1983 season in impressive fashion, erasing a 23-3 deficit at Washington to defeat the Super Bowl champion Redskins 31-30, then winning their next six games. When Dallas and Washington squared off again on Week 15 at Texas Stadium, both teams had 12-2 records. However, the Redskins beat the Cowboys handily in that game, and Dallas subsequently lost its next two games to end its season (a rout by the 49ers in the regular season finale and an upset home loss to the Rams in the wild card playoff game).

Change and controversy marked the Cowboys' 1984 season (its 25th, which Schramm commemorated as the "Silver Season"). Despite leading Dallas to the playoffs in each of his four seasons as starting quarterback, Danny White began to draw criticism for "not being able to win the big game," and several players privately expressed their preference for backup quarterback Gary Hogeboom. Landry decided to start Hogeboom, and while Dallas started the season 4-1, Hogeboom's inconsistency eventually led to White regaining the starting job. It would not be enough, though. The Cowboys suffered an embarrassing Week 12 loss to the winless Bills in Buffalo, and needing a win in their final two games to secure a playoff spot, lost both. Dallas finished the 1984 season 9-7, and missed the postseason for the first time in a decade. An important off-field change also took place in 1984. Clint Murchison, in dire financial straits because of a collapse in oil prices, sold the Cowboys to Dallas oilman H.R. "Bum" Bright in May.

Bright's ownership coincided with a decline in the Cowboys' fortunes. While Dallas rebounded in 1985 to win the NFC East with a 10-6 record, the would not enjoy a winning season for the rest of the decade. The 1986 campgain started optimistically, with highly-regarded offensive coordinator Paul Hackett and Heisman Trophy-winning Herschel Walker having joined the team. The Cowboys ran their record to 6-2, but White's wrist was broken in a mid-season loss to the Giants, and the team only managed to win one of its final seven games. Dallas finished with a 7-9 record, ending its streak of 20 consecutive winning seasons.

Dallas started the 1987 season 1-1 before NFL players went on strike and management responded by hiring replacement players. Schramm, having anticipated the strike, assembled one of the better replacement teams, which was soon bolstered by several starters who crossed the picket line (including Dorsett, Danny White, and Randy White). However, the "Counterfeit Cowboys" suffered an embarrassing home loss to a Redskins team comprised entirely of replacement players, and once the strike ended, Dallas' regular squad lost six of its next eight games to finish 7-8.

The Cowboys went into a free-fall in 1988. After starting the season 2-2, a last-second loss in New Orleans started a 10-game Cowboy losing streak. Among the few bright spots in the season were the team's first-round draft pick, wide receiver Michael Irvin (whom Schramm had predicted would spur the team's "return from the dead"), and a Week 15 victory against the Redskins in Washington. In early 1989 Bright sold the Cowboys to Arkansas businessman Jerry Jones on February 25, 1989. Jones immediately fired Landry, the only coach the franchise had ever known. Schramm, Brandt, and other longtime personnel were soon gone as well. Jones replaced Landry replaced him with University of Miami head coach Jimmy Johnson. With the first pick in the draft, the Cowboys selected UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman. After Dallas opened the 1989 season 0-5, Johnson traded away Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for five veteran players and eight draft choices. (A total of 18 players or draft choices were involved in what was the largest trade in NFL history at the time.) The Cowboys finished the 1989 season with a 1-15 record, their worst record since the team's inception. Rookie quarterback Steve Walsh, starting in place of an injured Aikman, led the team to its lone victory in a midseason Sunday night game in Washington.


Johnson quickly returned the Cowboys to the NFL's elite with a series of skillful drafts. Having picked Aikman, fullback Daryl Johnston and center Mark Stepnoski in 1989, Johnson added running back Emmitt Smith in 1990, defensive tackle Russell Maryland and offensive tackle Erik Williams in 1991, and safety Darren Woodson in 1992. The young talent joined holdovers from the Landry era such as wide receiver Michael Irvin, guard Nate Newton, linebacker Ken Norton Jr, and offensive lineman Mark Tuinei, and veteran pickups such as tight end Jay Novacek and defensive end Charles Haley. The Cowboys finished 7–9, with Smith being named NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year and Johnson earning Coach of the Year honors. In 1991 Dallas finished with an 11–5 record, making the playoffs for the first time since 1985. The Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears in the wild card round before being routed by Detroit in the divisional round. The 1991 Cowboys also became the first team to feature the league leaders in rushing yards (Smith) and receiving yards (Irvin).

In 1992, the Cowboys finished with a 13–3 record (second best in the league), reached their peak in popularity (many road fans were cheering for the Cowboys), and finally avenged their 1981 NFC Championship Game loss to San Francisco by defeating the 49ers in the conference title game, 30–20, in a muddy Candlestick Park. The Cowboys went on to crush the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII, 52–17, forcing a Super Bowl record 9 turnovers. Coach Johnson became the first coach to claim a National Championship in college football and a Super Bowl victory in professional football. The following season, the Cowboys finished with a 12–4 record, again defeating the 49ers in the NFC Championship, only this time at Texas Stadium, and again defeating the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII, 30–13. The Cowboys sent an NFL record 11 players to the Pro Bowl: Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Thomas Everett, Daryl Johnston, Russell Maryland, Nate Newton, Ken Norton Jr, Jay Novacek, Mark Stepnoski and Erik Williams.

Only weeks after Super Bowl XXVIII, however, friction between Johnson and Jones culminated in Johnson stunning the football world by announcing his resignation. The next day Jones hired former University of Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer to replace Johnson. Norton and guard Kevin Gogan departed via free agency, but Dallas drafted offensive lineman Larry Allen, who would be a mainstay on the line for the next decade. In 1994 the Cowboys played before the largest crowd to ever attend an NFL game when 112,376 in Mexico City turned out for a preseason match against the Houston Oilers. The Cowboys cruised to another NFC East title in 1994. They finished the regular season 12–4, with their four losses coming by a combined 20 points. The team suffered key injuries, however, when Erik Williams was lost for the year after a mid-season auto accident and Emmitt Smith was hobbled for the final month with a pulled hamstring. Dallas advanced to the NFC Championship Game in San Francisco, but fell behind 21–0 in the first quarter, and despite a valiant comeback, lost to the 49ers 38–28.

In 1995 Jones made a huge free agent splash by signing All-Pro cornerback Deion Sanders away from San Francisco. Dallas posted another 12–4 regular season record and NFC East crown. After crushing the Eagles in the divisional playoffs, the Cowboys earned their 8th NFC Championship title by defeating the Green Bay Packers 38–27 at Texas Stadium. The Cowboys then topped the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX 27–17, avenging two four-point losses to Pittsburgh in Super Bowls X and XIII. Coach Switzer followed Johnson to become the second coach to claim a National Championship in college football and a Super Bowl victory in professional football.

Injuries and off-field incidents deviled the 1996 Cowboys. Novacek, possibly Aikman's most trusted target, suffered an off-season back injury that ended his career. Irvin was convicted of narcotics possession and suspended for the first five games of the season. In December defensive tackle Leon Lett was given a one-year suspension for failing a narcotics test. Late in the season Irvin and Williams drew national attention when they were accused of assaulting a Dallas woman, although the allegations were later recanted. Haley and Emmitt Smith were also plagued by injuries during the season. Yet Dallas still managed to earn its fifth consecutive NFC East title with a 10–6 record. The Cowboys thumped the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs, then traveled to Carolina, where they lost to the upstart Panthers after Irvin and Sanders left the game with injuries.

Preseason pundits again put the Cowboys at the top of the NFC in 1997. However, Dallas finished the season with a disappointing 6–10 record as continued discipline and off-field problems became major distractions. Switzer was arrested during the preseason after a handgun was found in his luggage at an airport metal detector. The team collapsed down the stretch, losing its final 5 games. Switzer resigned as head coach in January 1998 and was replaced by former Steelers offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

Gailey led the team to a 10–6 record in 1998 as Dallas became the first NFC East team to sweep the division. The Cowboys suffered a humiliating first-round playoff exit, however, when the Arizona Cardinals defeated them at Texas Stadium for their first postseason victory in half a century. Jones raised hopes in the off-season, though, signing fleet wide receiver "Rocket" Ismail. The Cowboys started the 1999 campaign in impressive fashion, erasing a 21-point deficit in Washington on opening day for a 41–35 overtime victory. In their fourth game of the season, however, Dallas lost Irvin to a neck injury that ended his career. Darryl Johnston also suffered a career-ending injury early in the season, and Aikman, Allen, Sanders and cornerback Kevin Smith missed time as well. Dallas sputtered to an 8–8 finish in 1999. They gained a wild-card berth in their final regular season game, but lost in Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs. Key players were now grumbling about Gailey, and Jones fired him in January 2000.


Dave Campo era(2000–2002)

Defensive coordinator Dave Campo was promoted to head coach, but he could only post three consecutive 5–11 seasons. Instability plagued the quarterback position after a concussion ended Aikman's career late in the 2000 season; five different quarterbacks started between 2001 and 2002. The low point of the Campo era was a 2002 opening day loss to the brand-new Houston Texans. Many fans and media blamed Jerry Jones for the team's ills, noting that he refused to hire a strong coach, preferring to hire coaches who did not want to be involved with personnel duties so that Jones himself could manage them.

2003 season

However, Jones proved them wrong in 2003 by luring Bill Parcells out of retirement to coach the Cowboys. The Cowboys became the surprise team of the 2003 season, posting a 10–6 record and a playoff berth by leading the NFL in sacks, turnovers and having the best overall defense in the NFL.

2004 season

However, the 2004 season was one of turmoil. Injuries and persistent penalty problems plagued the Cowboys, who were shaken early in training camp when starting quarterback Quincy Carter was suddenly released, allegedly for drug use. 40-year-old veteran Vinny Testaverde, recently brought in by by former coach Parcells to be the back-up, became the starter. The had only a 3–5 record at midseason, but injured rookie running back Julius Jones returned in late November, and in consecutive games logged two of the best single-game performances in franchise history. Dallas went 1–3 down the stretch, though, finishing the season 6–10.

In November 2004, a vote was passed by the City of Arlington in Tarrant County to build a new stadium adjacent to the existing Ameriquest Field in Arlington. The team will begin playing at the new site in 2009 after thirty-eight years playing in the City of Irving, and forty-nine years in Dallas County.

2005 season

The Cowboys improved their defense before the 2005 season, adding Demarcus Ware, Marcus Spears, Kevin Burnett, and Chris Canty through the draft. Parcells hoped to jumpstart the team's transition from the traditional 4-3 defense, which had been the Cowboys' base defense for the past 20 years, to his preferred 3-4 defense, which he believes favors the talents of the current lineup (speed and athleticism over power). Jerry Jones also added a number of veterans, including nose tackle Jason Ferguson and cornerback Anthony Henry via free agency. On offense, the Cowboys tried to upgrade their passing game by signing free agent quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Bledsoe had a solid year and gave the Cowboys stability at the QB position, which had been lacking since Troy Aikman's retirement 5 years earlier. The Cowboys endured an up-and-down 2005 season. An injury to kicker Billy Cundiff lead to inconsistency at that position, and costly misses contributed to close losses against Seattle and Denver. Dallas went 2–2 in December but remained in the playoff hunt. Shortly before the regular season finale, the Cowboys learned that they had been eliminated from the playoff chase, then turned in a listless performances against a poor Lions team to finish the season 9-7, 3rd place in the NFC East.

2006 season

The Cowboys entered the season with high hopes but got off to a mediocre 3–2 start before an important Monday Night Football game against division rivals, the New York Giants. The Cowboys suffered a tough 36–22 loss despite "a changing of guard" at the QB position from Drew Bledsoe to Tony Romo. With the next three games on the road, speculation grew that the Giants would run away with the division for a second straight year. Romo won his first game as a starter the following week against the Carolina Panthers with an outstanding 4th quarter comeback to win (35–14). The Cowboys' chance to challenge the Giants seemingly fizzled when they lost to the Washington Redskins at Fedex Field on a last second field goal (the "Hand of God" game) (The Cowboys have lost 3 of the past 4 games against the archrival Redskins).

However, the Giants entered a slump, and Tony Romo impressed the media as a quarterback, revitalizing the Cowboys with a 27–10 win over the Cardinals, a well-earned (21–14) victory over the previously unbeaten Colts, and a thorough routing of Tampa Bay (38–10) on Thanksgiving Day. During that home game, Romo solidified his position as QB and quieted any remaining skeptics by completing 22-of-29 passes for 306 yards and five touchdowns (tying a franchise record). Furthermore, the Cowboys took a two-game lead of the NFC East by beating the Giants in a Week 13 rematch. The success of the new quarterback surprised much of the nation and helped Romo receive much air-time on sports shows.

The Cowboys then self-destructed in the last four games of the season, losing to the Saints in a battle for second-best record in the league, to the Philadelphia Eagles in a game that would have earned them the division championship, and to the 2–13 Detroit Lions in a game where Tony Romo's four fumbles cast significant doubt on his ability to successfully lead his team in the playoffs. The Cowboys played a wild card matchup at Seattle to start the playoffs. Leading 20-13 with 6:42 left in the game with the ball at their own 1-yard line, Romo threw a short pass to Terry Glenn where he fumbled it and it went out of bounds in the endzone resulting in a safety. The Seahawks got the ball back and Matt Hasselbeck threw a touchdown to Jerramy Stevens to take a 21-20 lead after missing the two point conversion. With 1:19 left in the game, the Cowboys had a chance win the game on a 19-yard field goal, but the hold was fumbled by Romo, who continued to serve as field goal holder even after ascending to the starting quarterback's role (the backup quarterback is traditionally the holder on field goals). He picked up the loose ball and tried to run it to the 1-yard line for a first down, but was tackled at the 2. As the game came to a close, the Cowboys managed to get the ball back with two seconds left, but Romo's hail mary pass attempt to the endzone fell incomplete.

On January 22, at the conclusion of the Cowboys' season, head coach Bill Parcells retired. On February 8, after a replacement search that included Mike Singletary, Jason Garrett, Jim Caldwell, Ron Rivera and Norv Turner, San Diego defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was hired as the new head coach. Jerry Jones eventually hired Garrett as offensive coordinator (even before hiring Phillips). Phillips has since hired his son Wes Phillips, and former linebacker Dat Nguyen to his new list of assistant coaches. [http://www.dallascowboys.com/news.cfm?id=A368BBF1-9DCB-1934-592F5A42B272BC2D]

2007 season

During the 2007 offseason, the Cowboys signed offensive lineman Leonard Davis and quarterback Brad Johnson to back up Tony Romo and have also resigned center Andre Gurode and kicker Martin Gramatica. They have also released two players; quarterback Drew Bledsoe and tight end Ryan Hannam. Tony Romo also received a $67.5 million dollar contract for six years with the Dallas Cowboys on October 30th, 2007, making Romo the third highest paid Quarterback in the NFL, after Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts and Carson Palmer of the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Cowboys tied a franchise record in 2007 with 13 wins, equaling the total from the 1992 squad. Dallas won the NFC East title and earned home field advantage throughout the playoffs. A recored thirteen members of the Cowboys were named to the Pro Bowl, while five were named All-Pro by the Associated Press. The Cowboys had another disappointing loss in the playoffs with an interception in the end zone by Tony Romo, resulting in a loss to the New York Giants 21–17. Dallas was the first number one seed in the NFC to lose in the divisional round since 1990.

Notable games

:"The following is a selected list of memorable Cowboys games"
January 1, 1967, NFL Championship Game vs.Green Bay Packers:The Cowboys' first postseason appearance was for the NFL title and the right to appear in the first Super Bowl. A capacity Cotton Bowl crowd saw Green Bay built an quick 14–0 lead, but Dallas fought back to tie the score. The Packers led 34–20 late in the fourth quarter before a long Don Meredith touchdown pass to Frank Clarke pulled Dallas within a touchdown. Dallas advanced to the Green Bay 2-yard line on their next drive. Running back Dan Reeves gained a yard on first down. A false start on second down pushed the Cowboys back to the Green Bay 6, and Reeves, having just suffered a poked eye that blurred his vision, dropped a pass in the flat. Meredith found tight end Pettis Norman on third down to bring Dallas back to the 2-yard line. On fourth down with 26 seconds remaining, Meredith rolled right and threw an interception under heavy pressure. Green Bay held on for a 34–27 victory in one of the great NFL Championship Games.

December 31, 1967, NFL Championship Game at Green Bay Packers:Better known as the "Ice Bowl", the 1967 NFL Championship Game still stands as the coldest game in NFL history. The official game-time temperature was -13 °F / -25 °C, with a wind chill around -48 °F / -44 °C. The bitter cold overwhelmed Lambeau Field's new turf heating system, leaving the playing surface rock solid and nearly as smooth as ice. Several players suffered frostbite and permanent nerve damage.

:It was also one of the greatest games in NFL history. The Packers jumped to an early 14–0 lead, but two turnovers cut their lead to 14–10 at halftime. Neither team could score in the third quarter, but the Cowboys took a 17–14 lead on the first play of the final period when running back Dan Reeves' completed a 50-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Lance Rentzel on a halfback option play. Green Bay started its final drive at its own 32-yard line with 4:54 left in the game and drove to the Dallas 1-yard line before taking their final timeout with 16 seconds left. Quarterback Bart Starr then scored a touchdown on a quarterback sneak to give the Packers a 21–17 victory and a trip to Super Bowl II.

January 17, 1971, Super Bowl V vs. Baltimore Colts:Linebacker Chuck Howley is named Super Bowl MVP, but the Cowboys lost to the Colts 16–13 on a last-second field goal. It was the first time a defensive player was named Most Valuable Player, and the only time the MVP came from the losing team. Sometimes known as the "Blunder Bowl" or "Blooper Bowl," the game witnessed 11 turnovers. It is the only time Dallas has worn its blue jersey in the Super Bowl.

December 23, 1972, at San Francisco 49ers, 1972 NFC Divisional Playoff Game:Roger Staubach's first miracle comeback. Staubach came off the bench in relief of an ineffective Craig Morton and erased a 28–13 deficit to the 49ers. After Staubach hit Billy Parks on a 20-yard touchdown. Mel Renfro then recovered an onside kick, and Staubach drove the team to the San Francisco 10. He hit Ron Sellers with 52 seconds left to give Dallas the win.

November 28, 1974, vs. Washington Redskins:Rookie free agent quarterback Clint Longley threw two touchdown passes in relief of an injured Staubach on Thanksgiving Day. Longley hurled a 50-yard strike to Drew Pearson in the final minute of the game to give Dallas a 24–23 victory.

December 28, 1975, at Minnesota Vikings, 1975 NFC Divisional Playoff Game:The term "Hail Mary pass" first came to national awareness with this game. Trailing 14–10 with 1:51 left in the fourth quarter, Dallas got with the ball on its own 15-yard line. Staubach managed a nine play drive to midfield. With 24 seconds now remaining, Staubach lined up in the shotgun formation, took the snap, pump-faked left, then turned to his right and threw a desperation pass to Drew Pearson, who was covered by Viking cornerback Nate Wright. As the ball descended, Wright tripped over Pearson's leg and was unable to defend the pass. Pearson caught the ball by trapping it against his right hip at the 5-yard line and ran into the end zone, giving Dallas a 17–14 victory. Staubach, a Catholic, said that he "closed his eyes and said a Hail Mary." The expression stuck.

December 16, 1979, vs. Washington Redskins:The game was played on the final week of the regular season. The winner would capture the NFC East title; the loser would miss the playoffs. In the game, Texas Stadium fans were treated to Staubach's last comeback, and one of his very greatest. The Cowboys trailed 17-0, but then scored three touchdowns to take the lead. Dallas trailed 34-21 in the fourth quarter, and Washington had the ball. Randy White recovered a fumble, and Staubach subsequently hit Ron Springs on a 26-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to six with less than five minutes remaining. The Redskins tried to run out the clock on the next drive, but on 3rd and short, Larry Cole stuffed John Riggins for a loss, forcing a punt. Staubach then moved the Cowboys to the Washington 8. He hit Tony Hill on a fade route with under a minute remaining to give Dallas a 35-34 victory.

January 4, 1981, at Atlanta Falcons, 1980 NFC Divisional Playoff Game :Dallas trailed 24-10 after three quarters in Atlanta. Robert Newhouse scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to pull the Cowboys within a touchdown. After an Atlanta field goal raised its lead to 27-17, Danny White capped a 62-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson with 3:04 remaining. After forcing the Falcons to punt, Dallas then advanced 70 yards to score on Pearson's 23-yard touchdown grab with under 2 minutes left. The Cowboys pulled out a dramatic 30–27 win.

January 3, 1983, at Minnesota Vikings:Dallas closed the 1982 regular season at the Metrodome against the Vikings. A Monday Night Football audience saw Cowboy running back Tony Dorsett set the NFL record for the longest run from scrimmage with a 99-yard touchdown. On first down, Dorsett burst through a hole on the right side and streaked down the field. He picked up a key block from Drew Pearson in Viking territory and, though coming dangerously close to the sideline, managed to stay in bounds for the score. Oddly, the Cowboys ran the play with only 10 players on the field. With the playoffs set, however, the game had no real implications. The Vikings won 31–27.

September 5, 1983, at Washington Redskins:Dallas opened the 1983 season at RFK Stadium against the defending champion Redskins in a Monday night game. The Cowboys erased a 23–3 halftime deficit to win 31–30. Danny White threw two third-quarter touchdown passes to Tony Hill, then scored on a 1-yard run in the final period gave Dallas the lead. White later connected with tight end Doug Cosbie for a fourth touchdown to seal the win.

January 31, 1993, vs. Buffalo Bills, Super Bowl XXVII:With the Cowboys holding an insurmountable 52–17 lead late in the fourth quarter, Dallas defensive lineman Leon Lett picked up a Bills fumble and appeared to be headed for a 64-yard touchdown. As Lett started to showboat just before crossing the goal line, Buffalo receiver Don Beebe raced in and knocked the ball into the end zone. The ball then rolled out of bounds for a touchback. Had Lett scored, the Cowboys would have broken the record for most points scored in a Super Bowl (the San Francisco 49ers hold that record with 55 points in Super Bowl XXIV).

November 25, 1993, vs. Miami Dolphins:On the day of the annual Thanksgiving Classic (the Detroit Lions also play every Thanksgiving), the city of Dallas would be hit with the [http://www.srh.noaa.gov/fwd/2000yearinreview.html 4th coldest weather] in the town's history. [http://www.dallascowboys.com/stadium_info.cfm] Before the game, a mini-bulldozer had to scrape ice off the frozen AstroTurf. The temperature with 32 degrees; the wind chill in single digits, and ice and snow continued to pour into the stadium's roof. After a 77-yard touchdown run, Miami running back Keith Byars flopped down in the end zone and celebrated by making snow angels. Not to be outdone, Cowboy Kevin Williams returned a 64-yard punt and slid on his feet the final ten yards into the end zone.

:Trailing 14–13 with 15 seconds left in the game, Dolphins kicker Pete Stoyanovich attempted a 41-yard field goal. But the ball was tipped by defensive lineman Jimmie Jones and spun forward toward the Cowboys' end zone. Players from both teams stayed away from the ball, because a blocked field goal is usually ignored according to the rule book. However, Leon Lett tried to jump on the ball, but instead slid on the slick field grazing the ball, and thus making it a live ball (i.e. a fumble). Jeff Dellenbach of the Dolphins recovered the ball at the 2-yard line, and Stoyanovich then kicked a 20-yard field goal as time expired, and Miami won 16–14.

January 2, 1994, at New York Giants:In the final game of the regular season, running back Emmitt Smith rushed for 168 yards, including 41 of them in the game-winning overtime drive, despite suffering a separated shoulder in the first half of the game. After the 16–13 Cowboys victory, former Hall of Fame coach and sports broadcaster John Madden would visit Smith in the Cowboys' locker room – the [http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/madden/story?id=1449798 only time] Madden ever visited a player as a commentator.

November 18, 1996, vs. Green Bay Packers:Kicker Chris Boniol scores seven field goals, tying the NFL record for most field goals in a single game. Seven years later on September 15, 2003, Dallas kicker Billy Cundiff would tie that record against the Giants. The two kickers they tied were Jim Bakken (St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, September 24, 1967) and Rich Karlis (Minnesota Vikings vs. Los Angeles Rams, November 5, 1989). [http://www.profootballhof.com/history/decades/2000s/cundiff.jsp]

September 12, 1999, at Washington Redskins:In the last great game by "The Triplets" (Aikman, Smith, and Irvin), the Cowboys erased a 21-point deficit in the final 11 minutes of regulation to equal the biggest comeback in team history. A successful onside kick led to a touchdown, and the extra point ricocheted through the uprights to tie the game. A botched Redskin field goal attempt with three seconds left in regulation sent the game to overtime. Dallas finally won the game on a 76-yard touchdown pass from Aikman to Raghib Ismail.

September 24, 2000, vs. San Francisco 49ers:Best known as the "Star Incident," 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens celebrated his two touchdowns against the Cowboys by running to the center of Texas Stadium. The first TD by holding his hands out to the heavens and the second by slamming the ball into the Cowboys star logo just before [http://www.texnews.com/1998/2000/cowboys/insult0925.html] Dallas safety George Teague caught up with Owens and blasted him off of the star, leading to a near midfield brawl by both teams and Teague's ejection from the game. In between Owens' two touchdowns, Emmitt Smith scored a TD of his own, ran and kneeled onto the star himself, slammed the ball down, and stared down the 49ers bench yelling "This is our house!!" This led to the popular "Defend the Star" slogan used for Emmitt Smith's rush for the record in 2002. However, the 49ers won the game, 41–24. and the NFL fined Smith, Teague and Owens for their actions in the game. 49ers coach Steve Mariucci also suspended Owens for a week, docking him a week's pay.

:In a rematch on December 31 2001 between the two teams that saw the Cowboys exact revenge on their most hated rival, Teague broke up a pass to Owens in the end zone, then flung Owens to the turf. The Cowboys won, [http://the-croc.com/cowboys/01sched.html 27-21] .

September 19, 2005, vs. Washington Redskins:Three former Cowboys were picked to be placed in the Ring of Honor in 2005 - running back Emmitt Smith (1990–2002), wide receiver Michael Irvin (1988-1999), and quarterback Troy Aikman (1989–2000). Known throughout the league as [http://www.dallascowboys.com/news_800.cfm?id=358633BE-9857-C2A9-0A29B28F98AEFB70 "The Triplets"] , they were the backbone of a team that would win three Super Bowls in 4 years. The trifecta became the first players from the Jerry Jones era to be placed into the Ring. "When you look at what each of these men did for those teams that became the best in the NFL," said Jones, "and how they complimented each other, it's fitting that Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman, and Emmitt Smith are going in the Ring of Honor [http://www.kltv.com/Global/story.asp?S=3621120 together] ."

:Irvin, Smith and Aikman were honored during halftime, where the Cowboys enjoyed a comfortable lead over the Redskins in the 2005 season opener. It appeared that Dallas was going to get a shutout, leading 13-0 with 5:58 left in the game. But on a fourth-and-15 drive from the Dallas 39, quarterback Mark Brunell would throw to Santana Moss, who caught the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. Solid defense plus a penalty against Flozell Adams put the ball back in Washington's hands. Again, Brunell would find Moss - this time, for a 70-yard touchdown pass. Dallas got the ball back, but could not penetrate Washington's defense.

:Until that game, Washington had not won in Texas Stadium since [http://fantasy.sportingnews.com/nfl/scoreboard/20050919/recap/650095.html 1995] and [http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/sports/football/12693191.htm lost 14 of the last 15] meetups with Dallas; Parcells had not given up a 13-point lead in [http://www.kxii.com/sports/features/2/1729706.html 58 games] , while Washington had lost 25 consecutive games when they were behind in the 3rd quarter.

January 6, 2007 at Seattle Seahawks, NFC wild card playoff game, "The Bobble":Trailing 21-20 with time winding down in the final quarter, the Cowboys drove inside the Seahawks 2-yard line, and Martin Gramatica came on to the field to attempt a chip-shot 19-yard field goal that would give Dallas a 23-21 lead. But Tony Romo mishandled the snap from L.P. Ladouceur, what is now known as "The Bobble" and Seahawks cornerback Jordan Babineaux tackled Romo before he could pick up a first down, leaving the Cowboys with a one-point loss.

October 8, 2007 vs. Buffalo Bills. :On a disastrous evening that had seen quarterback Tony Romo throw 5 interceptions, Dallas found themselves trailing the Buffalo Bills (a team the Cowboys were widely expected to defeat handily) by an early fourth quarter score of 24-13. However, with 3:45 left in the fourth quarter, Dallas' offense mounted an 80 yard drive that resulted in a touchdown pass from Romo to wide receiver Patrick Crayton. After a two-point conversion attempt (which would have tied the game) failed, Cowboys kicker Nick Folk executed a textbook on-side kick, which was recovered by Dallas tight end Tony Curtis near midfield. With no timeouts and 18 seconds remaining, Romo passed twice toward the sidelines, hitting Crayton for 4 yards and tight end Jason Witten for 8; enough to set up a 53 yard field goal attempt to win the game. Folk's kick split the uprights, but Bills coach Dick Jauron had called a timeout just before Folk's foot hit the ball in an effort to rattle the rookie kicker's nerves. Dallas again set up to kick, and again Folk's kick was true for a career best 53-yard field goal (his first game-winning field goal in the NFL) and the Cowboys came away with an improbable 25–24 victory. The 12 unanswered points in the 4th helped Dallas improve to 5–0, and the Cowboys became the first team to win a game on Monday Night Football with a -5 turnover margin.

Notable firsts

The Dallas Cowboys team/franchise has been "first" in the record books for a whole host of accomplishments, a few of which include:
*The first NFL team to win three Super Bowls in four years.
*The first and only NFL team to play in eight Super Bowls. They have a 5–3 record in the Super Bowl, with all three losses by a margin of four points or less.
*The first and only NFL team to lose a Super Bowl and still have a player selected as the Super Bowl MVP. (Linebacker Chuck Howley, who intercepted two passes and forced a fumble in Super Bowl V, became the first defensive player to win the award.)
*The first team in NFC East history to sweep all of its division opponents (home and away), going 8–0 in 1998 against the Cardinals, Giants, Eagles, and Redskins.
*The first NFL team to feature both the NFL leading rusher (E. Smith) and leading receiver (M. Irvin) in the same season (1991).
*The first and only NFL team to post 20 consecutive winning seasons (1966–1985).
*The first NFL team to have 24 winning regular seasons.
*The first NFL team to earn 27 post-season appearances.
*The first NFL team to send at least 13 players to the Pro Bowl (2007 season).

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title = Dallas Cowboys first-round draft picks
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External links

* [http://www.nfl.com National Football League]
* [http://www.dallascowboys.com/ Dallas Cowboys Official Website]
* [http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nfl/dallas/cowboys.html Sports E-Cyclopdia.com]

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