This is the eighth part of a ten-part series focusing on ten pivotal regular season games in the history of the Dallas Cowboys.
Not all famous games will appear on this list. For example, Roger Staubach’s final regular-season game against the Redskins was unforgettable, but the Cowboys turned around two weeks later and lost to the Rams in the playoffs.
Instead, this series focuses on games that marked turning points—good and bad—in franchise history.
September 3, 2000
Philadelphia 41, Dallas 14
“Pickle-Juice Loss Signals Dark Times Ahead”
The 1999 season for the Dallas Cowboys was a frustrating one. The team held a lead in every game, yet only finished 8-8 and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Minnesota Vikings.
Gone in 2000 were Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders, but the Cowboys had some new weapons that gave the fans hope. Joining Rocket Ismail at receiver was former Seahawk Joey Galloway. The speed of those two receivers was supposed to drive defenses nuts.
On defense, Dallas added cornerback Ryan McNeil, who had recorded nine interceptions in 1997 while with the Rams. The Cowboys also added former Giant Phillippi Sparks. Those two had to replace the duo of Sanders and Kevin Smith after the latter injured his knee in training camp.
None of those roster moves worked.
Dallas opened the season against division-rival Philadelphia, which successfully executed an onside attempt on the opening kickoff. The Eagles scored on that drive on their way to a 24-6 halftime lead. The game was never close, and Dallas lost, 41-14.
The game became somewhat famous because of news that the Eagles had consumed pickle juice to address the heat in Texas Stadium that day. It turns out that Dallas would need much more than pickle juice to compete in 2000.
By halftime, the Eagles had knocked Troy Aikman out of the game with a concussion. He had not yet completed a pass when he suffered the injury. Randall Cunningham made his Dallas debut but could not give the Cowboys much of a boost.
Aikman eventually returned a few games later, but his career would end after the 2000 season thanks largely to back and concussion problems.
Galloway scored a fourth-quarter touchdown against the Eagles but later injured his knee. He was lost for the season. He returned to the Cowboys in 2001, but he never made the impact the team expected after sending two first-round picks to Seattle to obtain him.
The defense was no better. After allowing 41 points to the Eagles, the Cowboys went on to have their worst defensive season since 1989, when the Cowboys finished 1-15.
Dallas recorded a 5-11 record and would repeat this in 2001 and 2002. By the time the team returned to the playoffs in 2003, nearly all of the key players from the dynasty era were gone.