Last week, we covered the 10 worst losses the Cowboys have suffered since the 2000 season. Today, we’re here to turn that frown upside down and talk about the highlight wins in that same timeframe.
Admittedly, it was far easier to create a list of the most devastating defeats. But we’re not here to focus on the negatives, so let’s get into the list:
10. Cowboys 27, Giants 26 – Week 1, 2015
The opening game of a season always has an extra mystique to it. Even if you have low expectations for your team, you still hold out hope during Week 1, thinking they may surprise you.
But for the 2015 Cowboys, the opening game foreshadowed what fans could expect for the rest of the season. The team finished last in the NFC East with a 4-12 record, and it all kicked off with a sloppy win against a bitter rival on Sunday Night Football.
Fast forward to 1:43 left in the game, the Giants are up by three points with the ball on Dallas’ goal line. New York opted to pass the ball for an incompletion, stopping the clock for the Cowboys when they had no timeouts remaining.
Dallas pieced together a 72-yard game-winning drive on the back of Tony Romo. Even the final touchdown pass came on a snap that was muffed by Romo. While it wasn’t the cleanest win, it was a win nonetheless and it gave Dallas fans hope for another week in a dreadful year.
9. Cowboys 20, Raiders 17 – Week 15, 2017
Among the greatest games in NFL history are the Ice Bowl, the Tuck Rule game and the Immaculate Reception. But somehow, the Index Card game gets lost in the shuffle.
Regardless, it’s special when two cornerstone NFL franchises like the Cowboys and Raiders get together. In this particular matchup, fans witnessed something they’d never seen before.
With 5:07 left in the fourth quarter, the game was tied. Dallas opted to run a QB sneak on fourth-and-one with the ball on the Cowboys’ 39-yard line. This was the biggest play of the game as it gives the Raiders excellent field position with time dwindling away if Dak Prescott doesn’t convert the first down.
Prescott got stuffed at the line of scrimmage, and the chain gang was brought out to measure the spot of the ball. Then, referee Gene Steratore whipped an index card out of his back pocket and tried sliding it between the yard marker and the ball to see if there was any gap between them. When the card hit the tip of the ball, Steratore signaled first down for Dallas.
The obscurities didn’t end there. After Dallas kicked a field goal to go up three, the Raiders marched down the field and were in a great position to win the game with a touchdown. But with 31 seconds left, Derek Carr tried stretching the ball across the pylon but fumbled it through the endzone and out of bounds. This called for a touchback and Dallas’ ball, sealing a win that looked like a Three Stooges episode.
8. Cowboys 27, Redskins 23 – Week 2, 2016
Dallas hit the jackpot in the 2016 NFL Draft. They took Ezekiel Elliott with their first pick and got a steal by selecting Prescott in the fourth round.
This was the game that put the rookie tandem on the map. Prescott threw for 292 yards and ran in a touchdown. Elliott ran for 83 yards and a score.
The duo would lead the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and an NFC East championship. But the season ended in devastating fashion at the hands of Aaron Rodgers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
7. Cowboys 40, Falcons 39 – Week 2, 2020
This game couldn’t have started any worse for Dallas. The first quarter lowlights included three lost fumbles, a failed fake punt and a 20-0 deficit.
At halftime, the score was 29-10. But momentum flipped in the third quarter when Dallas outscored Atlanta 14-0, bringing the score to 29-24 in favor of the Falcons.
In the fourth quarter, things looked grim again. Dallas found the endzone with 1:49 remaining to make it a 39-37 game. But the special teamers came through and recovered the onside kick. Then Greg Zurlein, who delivered the successful onside kick, trotted back out and hit the game-winning 46-yard field goal to seal the victory. Talk about a roller coaster of a game.
6. Cowboys 38, Buccaneers 10 – Week 12, 2006
The 2006 season was Tony Romo’s third season as a pro, and the undrafted free agent was expected to backup Drew Bledsoe all season. But Romo was called into action after Bledsoe suffered an injury in Week 7.
After Romo’s first five games as a starter, the jury was still out on the 26-year-old. He had some good games, but those were countered with some less than spectacular performances.
But in this game against Tampa Bay, Romo lit it up. He threw for 306 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. He also completed over 75% of his passes. Many fans started warming up to the idea that Romo was the answer at QB after this stellar Thanksgiving day performance.
5. Cowboys 24, Saints 17 – Week 15, 2009
The 13-0 Saints were chasing perfection heading into this matchup with the 8-5 Cowboys.
The Superdome was stunned when Dallas grabbed a 14-0 first quarter lead. The Cowboys carried the momentum into the second half, and after three quarters, Dallas led 24-3. New Orleans scored 14 unanswered points and were piecing together a possible game-tying drive as the clock was winding down. But a DeMarcus Ware strip-sack clinched the win for the Cowboys.
4. Cowboys 35, Rams 7 – Week 4, 2007
No glitz or glam. No oddities from the refs or breakout performances from rookies. Just a good old-fashioned beat down.
The Rams were down a few key plays due to injury, and the Cowboys took advantage.
Defensively, Dallas allowed 187 total yards of offense and no points. The Rams’ lone touchdown came on a punt return.
Offensively, the Cowboys posted 502 total yards of offense. Romo threw three touchdowns and rushed in one more for good measure.
Close games can be rewarding when your team comes out on top, but it’s also nice to have a stress-free Sunday knowing your team has the win in the bag.
3. Cowboys 24, Lions 20 – Wild Card Round 2014 playoffs
For as bad as Dallas has been in the playoffs, they don’t hold a candle to Detroit’s postseason woes. The Lions haven’t won a playoff game since the 1991 season, good for the longest drought in the league.
So it would’ve been embarrassing had the Cowboys allowed the Lions to come to Dallas and snap the losing streak, and it almost happened. The Cowboys’ first lead of the game came on a Terrance Williams touchdown with 2:32 left in the fourth quarter. This would hold as the game-winner.
The matchup is largely remembered because the refs missed a pass interference call against the Cowboys in the fourth quarter.
2. Cowboys 24, Seahawks 22 – Wild Card Round 2018 playoffs
Playoff wins are hard to come by in Dallas. We’re talking three postseason victories since the 1996 season. So each and every one needs to be celebrated, even if it is just the Wild Card Round.
This was Prescott and Elliott’s first playoff victory, and the duo shined in the win. Elliott carried a majority of the offensive load, rushing for 137 yards and a touchdown, while Prescott threw for 226 yards and a score.
But the highlight of the game belongs to Prescott, who scrambled for a first down late in the fourth quarter. As he tried reaching the ball to the goal line, his legs were swept from under him as he somersaulted a yard short of the endzone.
1. Cowboys 34, Eagles 14 – Wild Card Round 2009 playoffs
Playoff wins are always sweet, but they’re a lot sweeter coming against your hated rivals. Add in the fact that it was a dominant win, and you have a recipe for a great night in Big D.
The first quarter was tightly contested, and neither team scored. But things flipped in the second quarter when Dallas scored 20 unanswered points. At halftime, it was 27-7, and the Cowboys’ defense carried the momentum into the second half.
The Eagles played the Cowboys tight in the second half, but the big deficit was too much to overcome.
The stars of the game for Dallas were Felix Jones with 148 rushing yards and a score and Ware with two sacks. The win also snapped Dallas’ drought of 12 seasons without a playoff win.