Dallas 44, Washington 17: Wrapping Up an Unforgettable December

celebrateThe NFL released its 2014 schedule in late April. We all saw the slate of December games—at Chicago, at Philadelphia, vs. Indianapolis, at Washington.

Would Dallas go 1-3? 0-4? Would the Cowboys even have anything to play for in December?

Instead, the Cowboys scored 40 or more points in three of those four games. Dallas went undefeated in December for the first time since 1991.

Dallas heads to the NFC playoffs with a full head of steam. Jason Garrett not only played starters against the Redskins on Sunday but also went for the win.

A long catch-and-run by DeSean Jackson gave Washington the early lead, but it did not last. Dez Bryant had his own catch-and-run for a 65-yard touchdown to give Dallas the lead in the first. Another Bryant touchdown later in the first extended the lead to 17-7, and Dallas never looked back.

After Dallas added a field goal early in the second quarter, Garrett approved an onside kick attempt. The Cowboys recovered and scored on the ensuing drive, bringing the Dallas lead to 27-7.

Washington cut the lead to 27-17 in the fourth quarter, but the Cowboys quickly ended any thought of a serious Washington comeback.

A 51-yard pass from Tony Romo to Terrance Williams set up another field goal.  Two plays later, Terrell McClain sacked Robert Griffin III, who fumbled. Anthony Spencer recovered and scored his first career touchdown. Joseph Randle later completed the scoring on a 65-yard run during mop-up duty.

DeMarco Murray surpassed Emmitt Smith to set the franchise’s single-season record for rushing yards with 1845. Bryant broke Terrell Owens’ record for receiving touchdowns in a season with 15.

This marks the first time since 1995 that the Cowboys have had a 12-4 record. The team will discover its playoff schedule depending on the outcome of the afternoon games on Sunday.

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

This is the seventh 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.

November 23, 1997

Green Bay 45, Dallas 17

“A Dynasty Crumbles”

The Cowboys had historically performed well against the Green Bay Packers until Dallas took a trip to Lambeau Field in 1997.

The Cowboys had historically performed well against the Green Bay Packers until Dallas took a trip to Lambeau Field in 1997.

The Dallas Cowboys’ dynasty of the 1990s had been falling apart from the moment the team won Super Bowl XXX.

First, it was Michael Irvin’s arrest for drug possession and his subsequent suspension at the beginning of the 1996 season. Second, it was the false allegations that Irvin and Erik Williams had raped a woman. The latter occurred just days before Dallas lost to the Carolina Panthers in the 1996 playoffs.

The 1997 season was not a great one. Barry Switzer was arrested for gun possession in an airport before the season began, so the team had yet another distraction to begin the year.

A loss to San Francisco in week 10 left the Cowboys with a 4-5 record, but not all hope was lost because Dallas rebounded with consecutive wins over Arizona and Washington.

The 6-5 Cowboys then had to travel to Lambeau Field for the first time since 1989 (the teams played in Milwaukee in 1991). Green Bay had lost five consecutive games to Dallas, but the last four of those took place in Dallas.

The Packers were the defending Super Bowl champions, and they played like it. Although the Cowboys took a 10-7 lead in the first half, it seemed to be a matter of time before the Cowboys fell apart. Brett Favre threw three touchdowns in the second half, and the Packers rolled over the Cowboys, 45-17.

Some of us irrationally believed the Cowboys had enough talent for the dynasty to continue throughout the decade. The loss to Green Bay ended that illusion.

Dallas lost four more games in 1997 to finish at 6-10. A 20-7 loss to the Giants in the season finale was so bad that Irvin cried on the sideline.

Although Dallas replaced Barry Switzer with Chan Gailey, and the Cowboys returned to the playoffs in 1998 and 1999, the team was never the same.

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

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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Dallas 38, Philadelphia 27: A Signature Win

The Dallas Cowboys made some critical plays in the second half to beat the Philadelphia Eagles in an important division win.

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Dallas Cowboys: Ten Pivotal Regular Season Games, Part 6 (1991)

The Dallas Cowboys recorded perhaps the most pivotal regular-season win in franchise history by beating the Washington Redskins in 1991.

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Dallas 41, Chicago 28: 8-8 No More

The Dallas Cowboys jumped out to a huge fourth quarter lead before holding on for a 41-28 win over the Chicago Bears.

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Dallas Cowboys: Ten Pivotal Regular Season Games, Part 5 (1986)

This is the fifth part of a ten-part series focusing on ten pivotal regular season games in the history of the Dallas Cowboys.

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Philadelphia 33, Dallas 10: No Thanks

The Dallas Cowboys did not give their fans many reasons to give thanks on Thursday, falling to the Philadelphia Eagles in a 33-10 loss.

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Dallas 31, N.Y. Giants 28: A Spark from Another Unlikely Source

The Dallas Cowboys came from behind to beat the New York Giants, thanks largely to two key plays by receiver Cole Beasley.

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