Dallas Cowboys: Ten Pivotal Regular Season Games, Part 10 (2010)

This is the tenth 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.

mediocrity-1September 12, 2010

Washington 13, Dallas 7

“The Dawn of Mediocrity”

It looked as if the Dallas Cowboys had turned a corner in 2009. The team won its final three games of the regular season to capture the NFC East title and then won a playoff game for the first time since 1996.

Most of that team returned in 2010, and many fans expected the Cowboys to take even more positive steps.

Then Dallas visited Washington on the evening of Sunday, September 12, 2010.

The Dallas offense struggled throughout the first half, and the one drive that ended up inside the Washington 10 ended with a missed field goal by David Buehler.

Washington led 3-0 near the end of the first half. Dallas only needed to kneel on the ball to try to regroup.

Instead, Tony Romo threw a pass to running back Tashard Choice, who fumbled. DeAngelo Hall recovered and returned the recovery for a touchdown.

The remained close, nevertheless, as the Cowboys scored in the third quarter. Dallas trailed only 13-7 late in the game, despite being called for numerous penalties.

In the final two minutes, the Cowboys moved the ball from their own 19 to the Washington 13. With three seconds remaining, it looked as if Romo had thrown the game-winning touchdown to Roy Williams. However, a holding call on Alex Barron negated the play, and Dallas lost.

The Cowboys never really recovered that year. They started the season at 1-7 before Jerry Jones finally fired head coach Wade Phillips. Jason Garrett took over to lead the team to a 5-3 finish, leading Jones to hire Garrett as the permanent head coach.

Dallas struggled for three years, recording 8-8 records in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Of course, Garrett led the Cowboys to a 12-4 record in 2014 and the first trip to the playoffs since 2009. However, the team had to survive a long period of mediocrity before accomplishing what it did in 2014.

Previously:

Part 1, December 5, 1965: “A Loser No More”—Dallas 21, Philadelphia 19

Part 2, November 22, 1970: “Road to the Super Bowl Begins in Washington”—Dallas 16, St. Louis 13

Part 3, November 7, 1971: “The Dodger Era Begins”—Dallas 16, St. Louis 13

Part 4, December 13, 1975: “Wildcard Berth It Is”—Dallas 31, Washington 10

Part 5, November 2, 1986: “Goodbye Danny, So Long America’s Team”— New York Giants 17, Dallas 14

Part 6, November 24, 1991: “A Dynasty Is Born”—Dallas 24, Washington 21

Part 7, November 23, 1997: “A Dynasty Crumbles”—Green Bay 45, Dallas 17

Part 8, September 3, 2000: “Pickle-Juice Loss Signals Dark Times Ahead”—Philadelphia 41, Dallas 14

Part 9, October 23, 2016: “Welcome, Tony Romo”—N.Y. Giants 36, Dallas 22

Dallas Cowboys: Ten Pivotal Regular Season Games, Part 9 (2006)

This is the ninth 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.

October 23, 2006

N.Y. Giants 36, Dallas 22

Once upon a time, Tony Romo was a new shining star.

Once upon a time, Tony Romo was a new shining star.

“Welcome, Tony Romo”

The Drew Bledsoe era in Dallas was not a long one. He started only 22 games for the Cowboys, and his 12-10 record was not horrible.

The team was, though, mediocre at best in 2005 and 2006 when he started. He could make plays with his arm, but he too often stood like a statue in the pocket.

The team was not going to fall back into its 5-11 ways with him at the helm, but the team also wasn’t going to get close to the Super Bowl with him as the starter.

Dallas had a backup named Tony Romo, who had provided quite a bit of excitement during preseason games. When Dallas started the 2006 season at 3-2, including a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in week 5, fans started calling for Romo to take over.

In week 6, Romo threw his first NFL pass and led the team to a touchdown during cleanup work against the Texans.

One week later, the Cowboys hosted the New York Giants with both teams sporting 3-2 records. Dallas needed a win to keep pace with the Eagles and have an edge over the Giants.

Instead, Bledsoe’s limitations cost the Cowboys. Although he rushed for a touchdown, he also threw a costly pick at the end of the first half.

Because of that play, Dallas coach Bill Parcels had little choice but to turn to Romo. A new era began.

Of course, the Giants picked off Romo’s first pass attempt. By the end of the night, the Giants had picked off Romo three times, returning one of those picks 96 yards for a touchdown.

Then again, Romo threw two touchdowns, including a 53-yarder to Patrick Crayton. He brought excitement to the QB position—more so than any other QB had in quite some time.

With Romo as the starter, Dallas eventually improved to 8-4 before finishing at 9-7. His era continues to this day, of course.

Previously:

Part 1, December 5, 1965: “A Loser No More”—Dallas 21, Philadelphia 19

Part 2, November 22, 1970: “Road to the Super Bowl Begins in Washington”—Dallas 16, St. Louis 13

Part 3, November 7, 1971: “The Dodger Era Begins”—Dallas 16, St. Louis 13

Part 4, December 13, 1975: “Wildcard Berth It Is”—Dallas 31, Washington 10

Part 5, November 2, 1986: “Goodbye Danny, So Long America’s Team”— New York Giants 17, Dallas 14

Part 6, November 24, 1991: “A Dynasty Is Born”—Dallas 24, Washington 21

Part 7, November 23, 1997: “A Dynasty Crumbles”—Green Bay 45, Dallas 17

Part 8, September 3, 2000: “Pickle-Juice Loss Signals Dark Times Ahead”—Philadelphia 41, Dallas 14

Dallas Cowboys: Ten Pivotal Regular Season Games, Part 8 (2000)

Dark times were ahead for the Dallas Cowboys in 2000 and beyond when Philadelphia came to down and gave Dallas a 41-14 loss.

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DeMarco Murray: Most Touches in a Season

DeMarco Murray had more touches during the regular season than any back in Dallas Cowboys history.

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Green Bay 26, Dallas 21: Sickening Call, Blown Chances

Thanks to a questionable reversed call on a Dez Bryant reception, the Dallas Cowboys lost 26-21 to the Green Bay Packers.

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Dallas 24, Detroit 20: Redeemed at Long Last

The Cowboys scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to complete a come-from-behind win over the Detroit Lions in the wildcard round of the playoffs.

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Dallas 44, Washington 17: Wrapping Up an Unforgettable December

The Dallas Cowboys went 4-0 during the month of December to finish their regular season with a 12-4 record.

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Dallas Cowboys: Ten Pivotal Regular Season Games, Part 7 (1997)

The Dallas Cowboys’ dynasty of the 1990s effectively ended with a loss to the Green Bay Packers in 1997.

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Dallas Cowboys: History of Division-Clinching Games

Review a short history of division-clinching games during the history of the Dallas Cowboys.

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Dallas 42, Indianapolis 7: Trouncing Their Way to the NFC East Title

The Dallas Cowboys clinched the NFC East title by demolishing the Indianapolis Colts, 42-7.

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