2000 Review: Season Begins with a Thud and Never Gets Better
For the 2000 season, Jerry Jones decided to bring back the timing-based offense the team used during the 1990s. An optimist might have envisioned Joey Galloway and Rocket Ismail using their blazing speed to become the Dallas version of the Greatest Show on Turf, which was what the St. Louis Rams had become. The Cowboys employed former assistant Jack Reilly to install the offense, which was described as “funky” by at least one member of the press.
The preseason wasn’t much to discuss. The Cowboys went 0-4 but predictably blew it off, saying that the record didn’t matter.
When the team opened against Philadelphia, the Cowboys looked every bit as bad as an 0-4 preseason might suggest. The offense was a disaster. The defense was a disaster. And though the Cowboys were around (albeit below) the .500 mark for much of the season, this was not a good football team. The Cowboys opened the year knowing they had to replace Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders. By the end of the year, they had to play without QB Troy Aikman.
Week 1: Philadelphia 41, Dallas 14
The new Dallas offense managed 167 yards. The Dallas defense gave up 306 yards on the ground. By the end of the first half, Dallas trailed, 24-6. It was a new decade, and the Eagles came out fighting. Dallas didn’t.
Week 2: Arizona 32, Dallas 31
The Cowboys led the Cardinals for most of the game, thanks largely to Randall Cunningham’s three-touchdown performance in relief of and injured Troy Aikman. However, with the Cardinals trailing 31-26, they moved the ball from their own 15 to the Dallas 17, and Jake Plummer’s TD pass to Frank Sanders gave Arizona the win.
Week 3: Dallas 27, Washington 21
The Cowboys faced the Redskins on Monday Night Football, trying to avoid the team’s first 0-3 start since 1989. Somewhat surprisingly, the Cowboys pulled it out. Cunningham threw two TD passes, including one to tight end Jackie Harris in the fourth quarter. Emmitt Smith added 83 yards on the ground and a score in the Dallas win.
Week 4: San Francisco 41, Dallas 24
George Teague cemented his place in team lore by racing to midfield and knocking Terrell Owens’ butt to the ground after the San Francisco receiver had celebrated on the Cowboys’ star. Of course, the Cowboys could otherwise do nothing to stop San Francisco, which became the second team in four weeks to score 41 points against the Cowboys.
Week 5: Dallas 16, Carolina 13
The Cowboys had struggled with Carolina in the past, but Dallas found a way to win at Ericcson Stadium. In the first of three overtime games for Dallas in 2000, Tim Seder’s short field goal gave Dallas the win. Smith led the team by rushing for 132 yards.
Week 6: Bye
Week 7: New York Giants 19, Dallas 14
Many tend to forget that Aikman was not espeically popular in Dallas during his final season. With fans begging to see Randall Cunningham, Aikman started the game against the Giants. In the worst performance of his career, he threw five interceptions during a close game, ending the Cowboys chances to get to .500.
Week 8: Dallas 48, Arizona 7
The Cowboys had to be frustrated with their 2-4 start, and their performance against Arizona was just the right cure. Dallas led 27-0 at the half, and the Cowboys poured it on during the second. The 48 points were the most scored by the Cowboys since 1980.
Week 9: Jacksonville 23, Dallas 17
Dallas followed up the big win against Arizona with another crushing loss. The Cowboys trailed 17-7 at halftime, but a Tim Seder field goal and a Randall Cunningham touchdown run sent the game to overtime. Alvis Whitted burned cornerback Phillippi Sparks for a 37-yard TD pass to give the Jaguars the win.
Week 10: Philadelphia 16, Dallas 13
For the second straight week, Dallas lost in overtime. Dallas led 10-0 in the second half, but the Eagles managed to tie the game by the end of regulation. The Cowboys moved the ball to the Dallas 48, but then the Cowboys ran a fullback dive play to Robert Thomas. He fumbled, the Eagles recovered, David Akers kicked a field goal, and the game was over.
Week 11: Dallas 23, Cincinnati 6
Aikman returned to start against the Bengals, and he recorded the last 300-yard game of his career. James McKnight caught eight of Aikman’s passes for 164 yards and a touchdown. The unexpected hero was kicker Tim Seder, who not only kicked three field goals but also ran for a touchdown on a fake field goal in the second half.
Week 12: Baltimore 27, Dallas 0
In the Cowboys’ first game ever against the Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore showed up. Dallas didn’t. Of course, Baltimore had one of the great defenses of all time in 2000, and the Cowboys were hardly a powerhouse. But Dallas had not been shut out since the pre-dynasty days of 1991. Aikman threw three interceptions in the loss.
Week 13: Minnesota 27, Dallas 15
The Cowboys kept things close against the Vikings during the first half, but Daunte Culpepper threw two TD passes to Randy Moss in the second half to help the Vikings to a win on Thanksgiving Day.
Week 14: Tampa Bay 27, Dallas 7
Tampa Bay QB Shaun King only had to complete nine passes for 65 yards thanks to Warrick Dunn’s 210 rushing yards and a defense that let the Cowboys do almost nothing. The Cowboys fell to 4-9, ensuring a losing record.
Week 15: Dallas 32, Washington 13
In the first quarter of the week 15 matchup with the Washington Redskins, Troy Aikman rolled right and was demolished by Washington linebacker LaVar Arrington. Aikman never played again. Here is the play:
Washington was fighting for a playoff spot, and Dallas was down to backup Anthony Wright, who had thrown three NFL passes by the time he took Aikman’s place. The Cowboys still found a way to win. Two receivers– Wane McGarity and Jason Tucker, ran for touchdowns, while Emmitt Smith gained 150 yards on 23 carries.
Week 16: New York Giants 17, Dallas 13
It looked as if Wright was just what Dallas needed. He led the Cowboys to a 13-0 halftime lead against the Giants, who were on their way to the Super Bowl. But New York regrouped and dominated Dallas in the second half.
Week 17: Tennessee 31, Dallas 0
Net passing yards for the Cowboys: 9.
Nothing more to say. The Dallas Morning News summary:
The loss dropped Dallas’ record to 5-11, its worst mark since 1989, when it went 1-15.
More important, it should end any delusions of grandeur Jones has that Dallas is a player or two from competing for a Super Bowl.
Or the playoffs.
The Cowboys, 29-35 in the regular season since 1997, have missed the playoffs twice in the last four years.
Against playoff teams this season, Dallas went 0-8 and was outscored, 202-76.