For the first time since 2002, quarterback Tony Romo was not on the opening day roster, as he announced his retirement on April 4, 2017. The Cowboys attempted to return to the playoffs after successful rookie campaigns by Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in the previous year. However, on August 11, 2017, it was announced that Elliott would miss the first 6 games of the season due to suspension, although he planned to appeal it. On September 8, 2017, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant ruled that Elliott had not received a fair trial; therefore, he blocked the NFL's 6-game suspension. While this ruling did not indicate innocence of the accusations, it meant Elliott would most likely be able to play the entire 2017 season. But 62 days later, on November 9, the suspension was reinstated when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied an emergency injunction. Elliott began serving the suspension on Week 10 against the Atlanta Falcons, and the suspension expired after Week 15 against the Oakland Raiders. After a Week 16 loss at home to the Seattle Seahawks, the Cowboys were mathematically and barely eliminated from playoff contention.
† The game was to be moved from its original venue, NRG Stadium, to the Cowboys' AT&T Stadium, due to public safety concerns regarding flooding in the Houston area from the remnants of Hurricane Harvey. However, the game was later cancelled in order to allow Texans' players and coaches to return to Houston after the storm. Instead, the Cowboys held a public practice session as well as a telethon to raise money for the relief efforts.
Dallas opened its third straight season at home against NFC East division rival New York. Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. sat out the game still nursing a preseason injury. Dallas' solid and workmanlike performance was punctuated early in the fourth quarter when Cole Beasley made a spectacular one-handed circus catch for a key first down. Dallas TE Jason Witten surpassed Michael Irvin as the all-time receiving-yards leader in franchise history and also scored the lone touchdown of the game on a second-quarter 12-yard pass from QB Dak Prescott, who had some passes sail high early but settled down to turn in another solid and turnover-free performance. The Dallas win snapped its three-game losing streak against New York.
In a stunning reversal of the previous week's performance, the Dallas Cowboys struggled in almost every aspect of the game, getting blown out by an inspired Denver Broncos team in Denver. The Broncos defense stuffed the Dallas run game and pressured quarterback Dak Prescott, who threw two interceptions – one returned late in the game for a pick-six. Defensively Dallas had no answers for the Broncos attack, plagued with poor tackling and bad pursuit angles, giving up yards after pass catches and rushing yards in chunks. Dallas fell to 1–1, looking to be in total disarray – nursing several key injuries to its secondary – heading into its Monday night meeting at Phoenix against the Cardinals.
After a precarious start which saw Arizona take its opening possession straight down the field for a touchdown, and then Dallas following up with a prompt three-and-out, the Dallas Cowboys adjusted their defensive schemes and got their running game going and slowly but surely overcame the Cardinals on Monday Night Football.
Despite Carson Palmer's 325 yards passing, Dallas was able to limit scoring damage with key pressures and sacks, and run stoppages to keep the Cardinals neutralized. Dak Prescott turned in a turnover-free performance for the Cowboys with 183 yards passing and two TD tosses, while running for Dallas' first score – a second quarter 10-yard scamper on a read-option play. Ezekiel Elliott rebounded from last week's dismal performance to accumulate 80 yards on 22 carries and scored one touchdown. Dallas found itself with a 2–1 record heading into a short week to prepare for the visiting Los Angeles Rams October 1.
The "tale of two halves" sports cliché was never more true to life as it was Sunday October 1 in AT&T Stadium, as the Dallas Cowboys lost to the visiting Los Angeles Rams 35–30 after dominating the first half of play.
Dallas was in the driver's seat and looked ready to demolish the young Rams and their rookie head coach after a workmanlike, dominating first half that saw Dallas post three touchdowns after long-distance drives and hold a 24–16 halftime lead.
The second half saw Dallas' offense virtually grind to a halt while Los Angeles slowly chipped away at the lead, finally finding themselves ahead to stay after Todd Gurley's 53-yard catch-and-run put L.A. up 26–24 late in the third quarter. After Dallas posted a 4th-quarter TD on a pass to TE James Hanna, L.A. was able to answer with its 7th field goal of the game. With the score 35–30, a late Dallas rally failed, and the Cowboys found themselves 2–2 with a looming meeting at home vs. the Green Bay Packers October 8.
With Dallas posting a 21–12 halftime lead, Green Bay kept chipping away and Aaron Rodgers led the Packers on a late nine-play 75-yard scoring drive that culminated in a 12-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams with 11 seconds remaining in the game. Damarious Randall earlier added a pick-six to the scoring with a 21-yard return of a Dak Prescott interception to give Green Bay a 28–24 lead at 9:56 of the fourth quarter. Dallas had answered that, regaining the lead on an 11-yard Dak Prescott touchdown run after a grueling 17-play, eight-minute 79-yard scoring drive which left 1:13 on the game clock for Green Bay to work with. Dallas dropped to 2–3 with the loss, heading into its bye week, while Green Bay improved to 4–1 moving forward with a visit against division rival Minnesota Vikings October 15.
Bouncing back from a two-game losing streak, Dallas dominated a winless San Francisco 49ers team 40–10. Ezekiel Elliott led the attack with 147 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries, with 219 total yards from scrimmage. Quarterback Dak Prescott completed 64 percent of his passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions and wasn't sacked, completing passes to eight different receivers and finishing with a 134.0 passer rating. The Dallas offense racked up 501 total yards with Dez Bryant posting 74 receiving yards on a game-leading 7 catches and scored one touchdown. The defense dominated throughout, with constant pressure on the quarterback including five sacks and aggressive pass coverage and run defense which held the 49ers to only 103 rushing yards. Dallas improved to 3–3 with the victory and a looming division match-up at Washington October 29.
On a windy, chilly, rainy Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field in Landover Maryland, Dallas earned its second consecutive road victory with a somewhat sloppy and penalty-ridden 33–19 result over NFC East rival Washington. Ezekiel Elliott carried the ball a career-high 31 times for 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns, to lead Dallas' 307 yards of total offense.
Dallas' defense limited the Redskins to only 49 yards rushing and 285 yards of total offense while recording 4 sacks for minus 27 yards, recovering two fumbles and grabbing one interception by CB Byron Jones – Dallas' first interception since week two vs. Denver. On special teams, Dallas recovered a fumbled kickoff and Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick returned a blocked FG attempt 86 yards to the Washington 2-yard line, setting up an Ezekiel Elliott rushing touchdown, which put Dallas ahead 14–13 with 2:20 left to play in the first half.
Dallas improved its record to 4–3 and captured sole possession of second place in the NFC East, with a looming visit from the Kansas City Chiefs at AT&T Stadium November 5.
With Ezekiel Elliott playing on a last-minute stay of his looming suspension and carrying the ball 27 times for 93 yards and one touchdown, and Dak Prescott throwing two touchdown passes to Cole Beasley, running for another score and finding receiver Terrance Williams nine times for a game high 141 yards, the Cowboys notched their third straight victory by a score of 28–17 and improved their record to 5–3 at AT&T Stadium against the AFC West division leading Kansas City Chiefs.
Two long touchdown drives in the second half lifted Dallas to the win after KC had taken command on an unexpected 56-yard Tyreek Hill touchdown catch and run with no time left on the 2nd quarter game clock, then KC following that up with a Travis Kelce 2-yard TD grab from Alex Smith at 9:11 of the third quarter to take its first lead of the game, 17–14. Dallas' two long TD drives were 12 and 13 plays respectively, eating up over 12 minutes of second-half game clock.
Already without Ezekiel Elliott, whose suspension had finally taken effect, the Cowboys lost key players Tyron Smith and Sean Lee to injuries. Dak Prescott had a miserable day, being sacked an astounding eight times. Six of those sacks came from an unknown Adrian Clayborn, who set the Falcons record for most sacks in one game. The Cowboys lost the game 27–7, dropping to 5–4.
The Chargers dominated the Cowboys all game and only surrendered 6 points. With the loss, the Cowboys dropped to 5–6 on the season and 0–3 without Elliott. This would be their last loss without Elliott, as the Cowboys turned things around the next week.
For the first time in franchise history, the Cowboys wore white pants and navy jerseys. The jerseys are usually paired with silver pants. The white pants were the Color Rush pants with a navy/silver/navy stripe down the side, and the navy jersey is the regular alternate navy jersey, usually worn on Thanksgiving.
The Cowboys outscored the Giants to win 30-17 and improve to 7-6 and 2-3 without Elliott. Despite the win against the Giants, the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles clinched the NFC East title with the win against the Rams.
The game was close all the way. The game was clinched when Derek Carr fumbled the ball out of the end zone with less than a minute left in the game, allowing the Cowboys to improve to 8–6 on the season and finish the last game without Elliott at 3–3. Elliott returned the next week.
With the win, the Cowboys finished a rough season with a 9–7 record. This was the first time they had recorded back-to-back winning seasons since the 2008 and 2009 seasons. They also recorded their first shutout since Week 17 of the 2009 season. This was Dez Bryant's last game with Dallas, as the Cowboys released him on April 13, 2018. This was also Jason Witten's last game in the NFL, as he retired on May 3, 2018.