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.
September 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.