The Cowboys also lost their last remaining three-time super bowl champion when Darren Woodson announced his retirement just before the offseason began.
The Cowboys installed a 3-4 defensive scheme, marking the first departure from the 4–3 defense since the club was founded in 1960. In their first year in the new system the team finished tenth in the NFL in total defense and opponents completed just 54.7 percent of their passes against the Cowboys’ secondary, the second-lowest number in the NFL that year.
DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears started all 16 games.
Marion Barber had several starts when starting running back Julius Jones sprained his ankle, and he took full advantage to solidify his role as a "third-down" running back.
Chris Canty was expected to be drafted in the first round until an injury hurt his chances to be drafted earlier. After noticing he was still available, the Cowboys traded up with the Eagles to take him with the 132nd overall pick.
After losing on opening weekend for five straight years, the Cowboys looked to end the streak on opening weekend against the San Diego Chargers. The defending AFC West Champion Chargers just had a 12–4 season and they were at home. The game was not decided until the final 30 seconds, when looking to score the game-winning touchdown on the Dallas 7-yard line, San Diego Quarterback Drew Brees threw an interception to Aaron Glenn. Both teams would go on to get a "disappointing" 9–7 record. Summary
Going into the game, the Dallas Cowboys had won 14 of the last 15 meetings between the two teams. The Redskins had not won in Texas Stadium since 1995. After holding a 13–0 with 3:46 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Redskins came out with an extremely improbable rally late in the fourth quarter to stun the Cowboys 14–13 when Mark Brunell threw two touchdown passes to Santana Moss. It was an extremely painful loss for the Cowboys, and it was the first time (after 77 times) that Coach Parcells lost after going into the fourth quarter with at least a 13 point lead. Summary
The Dallas Cowboys did the exact opposite of what they did a week earlier by scoring 15 unanswered point in the fourth quarter to shock the 49ers 34–31, in a game that was decided with less than 2 minutes remaining. Summary
Despite staying in the Bay area over the week to prepare for the game against the Raiders game, the Cowboys were unable to take advantage of the winless Oakland Raiders, and failed to score on a potential game saving drive late in the fourth quarter. Summary
The Cowboys exploded offensively in what Parcells said was the best performance he has seen since coming to Dallas. The Cowboys would not let the Eagles offense score a single touchdown (they had one defensive touchdown), and the Cowboys outscored the Eagles 27–3 in the first half to put the game out of reach. Summary
Dallas hoped to continue playing great offensively as they did in the previous week by beating the New York Giants at home. Instead, they played very sloppily and Coach Parcells said his team was "fortunate" to win. The Cowboys were sacked 4 times for a loss of 36 yards and turned over the ball 4 times. Summary
The Cowboys lost left tackle Flozell Adams for the remainder of the season when he tore an ACL in his knee. With an immobile quarterback like Drew Bledsoe, this would be devastating for the Dallas Cowboys later in the Season because Bledsoe would be sacked 36 more times (after being sacked "only" 13 times during the first six games), and he would throw 13 more interceptions after this game (while throwing only 4 picks during the first six games).
The Cowboys came to Seattle for a defensive showdown. After scoring a touchdown early in the first quarter, the Cowboys had the lead until 59 minutes and 20 second into the game when Seattle tied the game at 10–10. Trying to win with 14 seconds left in regulation, Drew Bledsoe threw an interception and Seahawks kicker Josh Brown kicked the game-winning field goal, taking their first lead of the game as time expired. Summary
Jose Cortez missed a field goal which cost Dallas the game, and he was fired after the game.Ryan Hannam, who scored a game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter signed with the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent the following season.
The Dallas Cowboys bounced back from a painful loss a week earlier and routed the Arizona Cardinals. The Cowboys had a new kicker on their roster, rookie Shaun Suisham, and another rookie making his first start was Marion Barber, who was starting in place of injured Julius Jones. He ran for 127 yards and scored two touchdowns in his breakout game. Summary
The Cowboys came to Philadelphia hoping to sweep the Eagles for the first time since 1998, and beat them at Philadelphia for the first time since 1998. After trailing by 13 points late in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys stunned the Eagles by scoring two touchdowns (one of which was an interception return) to win the game 21–20. Also, Donovan McNabb injured his knee and he would leave for the remainder of the season. Summary
Earlier in the week, Coach Parcells hung mousetraps in the locker room to warn his players that this game was a "trap game". Dallas rushed for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns, and kicker Billy Cundiff kicked a franchise record 56 yard field goal. After the game, the Cowboys were 7–3 and tied for second place in the NFC. The Cowboys had already won more game than they did in the previous seasonSummary
In the annual Thanksgiving Day Game, the Dallas Cowboys hosted the Denver Broncos. The Cowboys offense had 314 yards, greater than Denver's 293 yards, but Cowboys kicker Billy Cundiff a missed field goal in the fourth quarter so the game went into overtime. Denver won the coin toss and Broncos backup runningback Ron Dayne ran 55 yards on the second play in overtime and Jason Elam kicked the game winning field goal. Summary
In this season's rematch, the New York Giants made the Dallas Cowboys pay for an overtime 16–13 win earlier in the season, but both teams had a sloppy performance overall. Both teams threw two interceptions, but the Cowboys lost two fumbles. Drew Bledsoe was sacked 4 times for a loss of 21 yards, both quarterbacks completed under 40% of their passes, and both teams missed a field goal. The Giants ran for 127 yards rushing (including 115 yards by Tiki Barber) and one rushing touchdown which made the difference in the game. Summary
In a back-and-forth offensive thriller, Kansas City running back Larry Johnson scored three touchdowns and Drew Bledsoe threw for three touchdowns. The Chief's offense had 493, more than the Cowboys 445 yards, but the Chiefs mistakes (including a lost fumble) made the difference in the game. Summary
After losing a painful Monday Night game in Week Two 13–14, the Cowboys were unable to avenge their former team. Instead, Washington gave Bill Parcells his biggest loss ever as an NFL coach. Tight end Chris Cooley had a career day catching three touchdown passes. After being down 35–0 early in the fourth quarter, Dallas prevented a shutout by throwing a conselation touchdown pass to Jason Witten. Drew Bledsoe was sacked seven times and threw three interceptions. Only the Danny White led Dallas 44–14 victory on September 9, 1985 had a larger margin of victory between the two teams. Summary
Going into the game, the Panthers needed a win to secure a playoff spot. The Cowboys needed a win to stay alive in the playoff race after losing three out of the last four games. Despite falling behind 0–10 early in the game, the Cowboys rallied to outscore Carolina 17–3 for almost three quarters, including two Julius Jones touchdowns. Julius Jones rushed for 194 yards, the fourth best in franchise history. Late in the fourth quarter while trailing 17–20, Billy Cundiff attempted to tie the game on a 33 yard field goal, but missed. The only reason Dallas still managed to win the game was because Carolina was penalized for "running into the kicker" (Carolina contended that they had slightly blocked the kick but replays proved inconclusive) and Terry Glenn scored a touchdown with one hand to take the lead (he dislocated his hand early in the game). Summary
Billy Cundiff had a 32-yard field goal attempt blocked, and missed a 33-yard attempt. He already missed two field goals earlier in the season, including one that cost Dallas the game on Thanksgiving against Denver, so two days after the game he was fired by coach Parcells. Carolina won next week to secure a wildcard spot in the playoffs, but despite several likely playoff scenarios Dallas was eliminated from the playoffs before their last game when the Panthers, the Redskins, and the Giants all won a week later.
Just days after the game, head coach Bill Parcells announced he was staying for at least one more season, and his contract was extended through 2007. At the time, there had been some speculation he would be retiring.