January 28, 1996. That was the last year the Dallas Cowboys won a Super Bowl. It’s been 23 years for “America’s team” and nothing but disappointment and heartbreak for the fans.
There’s many reasons being a fan of this team in the 21st century has been one of the hardest things in sports since the Buffalo Bills lost four straight Super Bowls, and here’s many reasons why.
The 21st century didn’t get off to a wonderful start for the Cowboys, going 5-11 three years in a row under head coach Dave Campo.
After a coaching change, Dallas seems to be a new team. Bill Parcells had turned one of the worst teams into one of the best in just one season. With just a few games left, Dallas was 9-3 and competing for the top seed in the NFC.
However, the beginning of many rollercoaster rides begins for Dallas as they lose three out of their last five games, finishing the season 10-6. Ultimately they lost in the wild card round to the Carolina Panthers 29-10.
The 2004 season turned out to be a disappointment as they finished 6-10 ranking third to last in the NFC in defense, allowing 25.3 points per game. Next season started off well for Dallas at 7-3, but finishing the season 2-4 puts them just one game out of the playoffs.
Many teams, such as the Cleveland Browns or even the San Francisco 49ers, could claim that they’ve had to endure more pain as a fanbase. Just two seasons ago the Browns went 0-16 which was only the second time in NFL history that’s ever occurred. However, these fans always knew the outcome of the season before it even started. They knew they wouldn’t make the playoffs.
But that’s why Cowboys fans have had it far worse over the years. Dallas has occasionally had five and six win seasons, but often they’re right in the mix for the playoffs. They just never seem to get over the hump from an average team to a Super Bowl contender.
Despite losing three out of their last four games in 2006, the Cowboys finish 9-7 and sneaked into the playoffs. The Cowboys were now led by a young quarterback named Tony Romo and their wild card matchup was set against the Seattle Seahawks. The rest is history. Dallas trailed 21-20 with just 1:19 remaining, but a 19 yard field goal is all the Cowboys needed to advance to the divisional round.
Romo fumbled the snap and was forced to try and run it in to the end zone. It appeared for a split second Dallas had avoided disaster, but Romo getting tackled inches shy of a touchdown goes down as one of his most memorable moments in his career.
The following year couldn’t have gone much better for the Cowboys. They dominated the NFC throughout the season as Tony Romo appeared to have moved past the catastrophe that ended last season’s run.
The Dallas Cowboys finished 13-3 atop the NFC and receive a first-round bye. It was their best regular season record since 1992 when they won Super Bowl XXVII.
History, as fans know it, doesn’t repeat itself here. They faced the New York Giants in a hard fought game that goes back and forth. NYG took a 21-17 lead with a touchdown with just over 13 minutes remaining.
Romo is given the opportunity of a lifetime with a possible playoff game-winning drive, but it all ends, however, when he throws an interception to lose the game and Romo, once again, fails his fanbase.
To make it even worse, the Giants go on to the Super Bowl to face the undefeated New England Patriots, coming in as massive underdogs. Against all odds, they pull out with the improbable victory against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
“America’s team” at this point, had gone 11 years without a playoff victory despite appearing in five playoff games over that time.
Another disappointing season in 2008 where the Cowboys struggle defensively, and that ultimately keeps them out of the playoffs.
In their final game of the season, they sit at 9-6 up to face the 8-6-1 Eagles. If they just simply win at home, the Cowboys go to the playoffs. However, five turnovers from Dallas creates a blowout as they are demolished by the Philadelphia Eagles 44-6, who clinch playoff berth.
Dallas gets back on track the following year. They finish 11-5 winning the NFC East.
Once again, the Cowboys take on the Eagles, but this time in the playoffs. “America’s team” hasn’t won a playoff matchup in 13 years at this point, but finally perseverance wins the day. The Cowboys snapped a six game playoff losing streak and advance to the next round as Cowboys fans are optimist once again.
However, it’s all short lived as the following week they’re blown out to the Minnesota Vikings 34-3. Head Coach Wade Phillips starts off 2010 1-7 and is fired by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
The following years are some of the most painful in recent memory for Cowboys fans as Dallas witnesses three straight seasons of 8-8. To make matters even worse, Dallas entered the final week of all three seasons simply needing a win to make the playoffs, but they lose all games keeping Dallas out of the playoffs for four straight seasons.
Cowboys diehard fans will remember the 2012 season the most and simply wish they could forget the end. This year looked awfully similar to former Dallas Super Bowl seasons.
They finished 12-4 on the season with running back Demarco Murray winning offensive player of the year. Tony Romo had the best season of his career, and wide receiver Dez Bryant had been clutch for the Cowboys all season.
After sitting out of the playoffs for four years, Dallas grabbed a playoff win in the wild card and advanced to face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
A back and forth game had the Packers up 26-21 late in the final quarter, but on fourth down and two, Romo throws a dime deep left to Dez Bryant as he catches the ball and extends his arm in an attempt to score a touchdown, but is ruled just shy.
That’s when chaos ensues as the referees say Romo’s pass to Bryant is incomplete sparking outrage online with the infamous #Dezcaughtit surrounding Twitter. The NFL later addressed that, in fact, Bryant did catch it. However, that ends the Cowboys season in one of the most anti-climactic ways in NFL history.
Dallas saw the playoffs again two years later in the wild card hoping for revenge against Green Bay, but this time in their town. At AT&T Stadium, the largest stadium in the world, the Cowboys were looking for their first appearance to the NFC Championship game.
Aaron Rodgers once again scorched the Cowboys throwing for over 350 yards and two touchdowns. In fact, Rodgers capped off the wild night by throwing an improbable throw deep left to Jared Cook for 35 yards with just three seconds remaining.
Mason Crosby, the kicker for the Packers, then ensues to drill a 51 yard field goal as Green Bay breaks the hearts of Cowboys fans for the second time in three years. However this time it stings a bit more given it’s in their house.
The question as to what’s happened to the Dallas Cowboys since 1995 can be answered with multiple reasons. Lack of leadership and talent on the field, poor coaching staff and Jerry Jones. Altogether, the fact of the matter is, something needs to change.
Current head coach Jason Garret has been leading Dallas for eight years with only two playoff wins. The Cowboys just came off a 10-6 season that ended on a positive note after starting 3-5. They grabbed another playoff win, but once again lost in the divisional round.
The 2019 season is looking up with Jason Witten coming out of retirement for the Cowboys. He’s something Dallas really needs in order to improve and become a Super Bowl contender.
But as Dallas Cowboys’ critic Stephen A. Smith says,”What can go wrong, will go wrong.” And Dallas Cowboys’ fans can attest to Smith’s words from the past two decades of disappointment and frustration. We’ll see what next year has in store.