1959 New faces of the franchise
Tex Schramm, left, and Tom Landry agree to become the first president/general manager and coach for the expansion franchise. With his famed fedora, Landry directed the Cowboys for 29 years, winning 250 games and two Super Bowls.
AP PHOTO 1960 Staying close to home
Don Meredith, a quarterback out of SMU, was the Cowboys’ first star and was named the NFL Player of the Year in 1966. After his surprise retirement in 1968, he became even more famous as a Monday Night Football analyst.
AP PHOTO/DWF 1967 Cold as ice
Quarterback Bart Starr scored on a sneak with 13 seconds to play as Green Bay won the NFL championship against
the Cowboys in the “Ice Bowl.” Game-time temperature at Lambeau Field was minus 15 degrees with a wind chill of minus 48. PRESS-GAZETTE/USA TODAY SPORTS 1971 Frustration overflow
After losing Super Bowl V on a field goal, Bob Lilly, aka Mr. Cowboy, flung his helmet. Years later, Lilly recalled, “a Colts player came up to me, holdin’ out my helmet. He said, ‘I think this is yours, Mr. Lilly.'”
MANNY RUBIO-USA TODAY SPORTS 1971 Best view in the house
The Cowboys moved from the Cotton Bowl in Dallas to the state-of-the-art Texas Stadium in Irving. Their new home became iconic because of the hole in the roof that, as Cowboys fans say, allowed God to watch his favorite team.
AP PHOTO/DALLAS MORNING NEWS 1972 Next year’s champs no more
After gut-wrenching losses to Green Bay and Baltimore in previous championship games, the 1971 Cowboys won Super Bowl VI against Miami. The defense was dominant, including this 29-yard sack of Bob Griese by Bob Lilly, in a 24-3 win.
AP PHOTO 1972 Captain Comeback
Quarterback Roger Staubach threw two touchdown passes in the final 1:30 to beat the 49ers on Dec. 23. A separated shoulder had kept Staubach out since Week 5, but he took over for Craig Morton and delivered when it mattered most.
BETTMAN/GETTY IMAGES 1974 Thanksgiving throwback, Part I
Clint Longley, a quarterback who didn’t take a snap during the first 11 games of his rookie season, was called into action when Roger Staubach left the Nov. 28 game because of a concussion. He led Dallas to a comeback win.
AP PHOTO/FERD KAUFMAN 1975 The Hail Mary
Roger Staubach’s 50-yard heave to Drew Pearson in the divisional playoff round at Minnesota on Dec. 28 remains one of the most memorable plays in NFL history. Staubach told reporters he said a Hail Mary after he let the pass go.
AP PHOTO 1978 Fingertip catch
Butch Johnson’s 45-yard touchdown in Super Bowl XII would not be a catch in today’s game, but it helped Dallas win its second title of the 1970s. Harvey Martin and Randy White remain the only co-winners of the MVP award.
SYLVIA ALLEN/GETTY IMAGES 1979 Dropped touchdown
“Bless his heart, he has to be the sickest man in America.” Verne Lundquist’s call of Jackie Smith’s drop of a potential tying touchdown pass still stings the Cowboys of the ’70s. The Cowboys lost Super Bowl XIII to the Steelers 35-31.
WALLY MCNAMEE/CORBIS/CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES 1979 Sympathy flowers between rivals
A few days before the game on Dec. 17, a Maryland florist sent a funeral wreath to Harvey Martin with a card that read, “From the Redskins.” After Dallas won 35-34, Martin flung the wreath inside the Washington locker room.
AP PHOTO/JERRY HOEFER 1982 The Catch
Everybody can still see San Francisco’s Joe Montana floating to his right, chased by Dallas defenders, throwing a pass to nowhere until Dwight Clark snatches it for the winning touchdown in the 1981 NFC Championship Game. Talk about Dallas dejection.
PETER READ MILLER VIA AP 1983 A record that cannot be broken
Tony Dorsett rushed 99 yards for a touchdown against Minnesota on Monday Night Football on Jan. 3. Tennessee’s Derrick Henry tied Dorsett’s mark in 2018, but he did it with 11 offensive players on the field. The Cowboys had 10 players.
AP PHOTO/JIM MONE 1989 Enter the Jerry Jones era
Arkansas businessman Jerry Jones purchased the Cowboys and Texas Stadium for $140 million from Bum Bright despite being told the franchise was losing $1 million a month. He hired his ex-college teammate, Jimmy Johnson, as coach after firing Tom Landry.
AP PHOTO/PAT SULLIVAN 1989 Biggest steal in a trade
Perhaps the biggest trade in NFL history, and one that shaped the Cowboys’ Super Bowl teams of the 1990s. The Cowboys sent running back Herschel Walker to Minnesota for five players and, more importantly, eight draft picks (including three firsts and three seconds) that changed the Dallas franchise.
AP PHOTO/JIM MONE 1993 No guts, no glory
Alvin Harper’s 70-yard catch in the NFC Championship Game symbolizes Jimmy Johnson’s guts when the Dallas lead had been cut to 24-20 in the fourth quarter. Michael Irvin thought he’d get the ball, but San Francisco blitzed, making Troy Aikman go to Harper.
JAMES SMITH/GETTY IMAGES 1993 Aikman’s first Lombardi trophy
Back in a Super Bowl for the first time since the 1970s, the Cowboys dominated Buffalo 52-17 to win the franchise’s third championship. Troy Aikman was named Super Bowl XXVII MVP with four touchdown passes, including two to Michael Irvin.
AP PHOTO/ERIC RISBERG 1993 Thanksgiving throwback, Part II
The Cowboys thought they had the Dolphins when Jimmie Jones blocked a field goal attempt, but then Leon Lett inexplicably chased down the ball, booted it forward for a fumble that allowed Miami another kick it would then make. Dallas lost 16-14.
STAR-TELEGRAM VIA AP 1994 Smith’s defining game
Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith suffered a separated shoulder in the first half against the Giants but did not leave the Jan. 2 game. Smith finished with 168 yards to claim his third straight rushing title despite missing two games.
AP PHOTO/RON HEFLIN 1994 Back-to-back titles
The Cowboys won consecutive Super Bowls against Buffalo with Emmitt Smith earning Super Bowl XXVIII MVP honors. On the Cowboys’ first drive of the second half, Smith carried seven times on an eight-play drive that ended in his 15-yard score. Pictured are receivers Alvin Harper, left, and Michael Irvin.
AP PHOTO/NFL PHOTOS 1994 Jimmy-Jerry split
Despite their success, egos brought about the end of the Jimmy Johnson-Jerry Jones partnership. Jones famously said any one of 500 coaches could win a Super Bowl with the talent the Cowboys had. Barry Switzer was named the franchise’s third coach.
AP PHOTO/RON HEFLIN 1995 The one that stings
The Triplets — Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, above — have said the NFC Championship Game loss to San Francisco stands out the most because of the team’s resilience. Dallas lost its chance for a Super Bowl three-peat with a 38-28 defeat.
AP PHOTO/PAUL SAKUMA 1996 Back on top
The Cowboys became the first team to win three Super Bowls in four seasons by beating Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XXX. Cornerback Larry Brown (No. 24) was named MVP with two interceptions of Neil O’Donnell to clinch the victory.
ROB SCHUMACHER/THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC-USA TODAY SPORTS 1999 Forever changed
Some say this was the day the dynasty ended for the Cowboys. Michael Irvin was temporarily paralyzed in the first quarter against Philadelphia on Oct. 10 and was later diagnosed with spinal stenosis that ended his pro career.
AP PHOTO/JANE HWANG 2000 Stomp on the star
San Francisco’s Terrell Owens became public enemy No. 1 with his celebration on the Texas Stadium midfield star in Week 4. Emmitt Smith, after scoring, answered by defending the star and his turf. In 2006, Owens became a Cowboy.
AP PHOTO/VERN STEINMAN 2002 NFL’s leading rusher
“Move over, Sweetness, make a place for Emmitt.” The radio call of Cowboys play-by-play man Brad Sham summed up Emmitt Smith’s march to breaking Walter Payton’s career mark. Smith finished his 15-year career with 18,355 yards.
JAMES D. SMITH-USA TODAY SPORTS 2003 Big Tuna in Big D
Who could have predicted owner Jerry Jones and coach Bill Parcells would work together? Coming off three straight 5-11 finishes and an impending stadium vote, Jones hired Parcells, a two-time Super Bowl coach, as Dave Campo’s successor.
PAUL BUCK/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES 2007 Romo’s fumbled snap
With 1:19 left, quarterback and holder Tony Romo fumbled a snap that negated a 19-yard field goal try. Romo could barely speak after what turned out to be Bill Parcells’ final game — a 21-20 loss to Seattle.
AP PHOTO/JOHN FROSCHAUER 2007 Witten’s helmetless run
Talk about a career-defining play for Jason Witten. Crunched by two Eagles defenders in a Week 9 game, Witten ran nearly 30 yards without his helmet on a 53-yard gain. Witten finished 2007 with his first of four 1,000-yard seasons.
ROB TRINGALI/SPORTSCHROME/GETTY IMAGES 2009 Jerry’s World opens
The Cowboys played their first game inside what would be later known as
AT&T Stadium, their $1.2 billion palace in Arlington, Texas, after moving out of Texas Stadium. The stadium’s center-hung, digital scoreboard and a retractable roof stand out. TOM PENNINGTON/GETTY IMAGES 2010 Bittersweet return to playoffs
For the first time since 1996, the Cowboys won a playoff game. With the disappointment of 2006 behind him, Tony Romo earned his first playoff win with a 34-14 victory against Philadelphia. The Cowboys lost to Minnesota in the divisional round.
JAMIE SQUIRE/GETTY IMAGES 2015 The catch that wasn’t a catch
Dez caught it — at least that’s what Cowboys fans believe.
Dez Bryant’s fourth-down, fourth-quarter catch at the Green Bay Packers’ 1-yard line was overturned by replay, thwarting the Cowboys’ chances of moving to the NFC Championship Game. ANDREW WEBER/USA TODAY SPORTS 2016 Dak and Zeke move in
The Dak Prescott era started with Tony Romo out because of a back injury. The 2016 fourth-round pick helped the Cowboys to a 13-3 finish with help from fellow draftee Ezekiel Elliott, who set the team’s rookie rushing record.
GREG TROTT VIA AP 2020 McCarthy takes over
Mike McCarthy is named the ninth coach in Cowboys history, replacing Jason Garrett, whose nine-year run with the team ended with two playoff victories and an 8-8 finish in 2019. McCarthy coached Green Bay to a Super Bowl XLV win.
AP PHOTO/BRANDON WADE