The Cowboys finished 8-8 for the third straight year and missed the playoffs for a fourth straight year _ seemingly to the shock and awe of owner Jerry Jones.
The end came Sunday in a 24-22 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in a third straight season-ending loss in a winner take all game for the NFC East title and the playoffs.
"It is unbelievable, unthinkable really for me to be sitting here three years in a row and this game ended up putting us at .500 and this game eliminating us from going to the playoffs," Jones said. "I had thought that some of the changes we had made this year would put us in better shape. It’s extremely disappointing for our fans. This is very disappointing. There’s no feel good in this loss, because there was a lot at stake obviously not the least of which is getting to come right back here next week and play. We’re very disappointed."
Jones made wholesale changes in the coaching staff after last season's 8-8 finish, led by the firing of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and hiring 73-year old Monte Kiffin.
Coach Jason Garrett remained and is now 29-27 in three and half years as head coach, including three straight 8-8 finishes.
Jones declined to talk about if he would again make any staff changes but again maintained that Garrett's job was safe.
"I’m not discussing that at all," Jones said. "I have spoken a little more appropriate time here about three or four weeks ago. I said at that time that I was with Jason that I thought that his future and what he’s going to be doing with us was good. But this isn’t the time and I don’t even like the way it feels or looks to speak to anything about our coaches." Pressed again on Garrett's return, Jones said: "I said that a month ago. I stand by what I said a month ago."
There won't be any changes at head coach, though defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin is not guaranteed to return. And the owner won't be making any changes with the general manager.
Jones said he will remain in charge as owner/general manager and remains committed to getting the Cowboys back in the playoffs.
"I am not discouraged at all," Jones said. "I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing and have initially got involved if the picture couldn’t be improved. I certainly do believe and am committed, committed with any and all resources that I have, to win and win more than we’re winning at .500 each year."
Asked if he was embarrassed to be .500 for the last three years and 136-136 since 1997, Jones pointed to his pride and joy: AT&T Stadium.
"Would you get embarrassed if you were standing in this stadium?" Jones said. "Seriously. The answer is no. Not at all."
Here are the postgame notes complied by the Cowboys' public relations staff:
The Dallas Cowboys offense did not yield a sack in tonight’s game (64 offensive snaps). Tonight was the second game this season the offense did not give up a sack (at Detroit, 10/27 – 56 plays).
The Dallas Cowboys defense registered five sacks tonight – the second-most this season behind the six against St. Louis (9/22).
Miles Austin caught two passes for 22 yards to give him 301 career receptions and become the 10th Dallas Cowboy to reach 300 career catches. He also passed Doug Cosbie (300) for ninth all-time in franchise history.
Dan Bailey converted one PAT tonight to give him 47 PATs this season, tying Mike Clark (1968) and Lin Elliott (1992) for the eighth-most in a season in team history.
Bailey’s three field goals tonight gave him his fourth career four-field goal game to tie Chris Boniol for the most in team history.
Bailey closed out the season converting 21 consecutive field goals – the second-longest streak in his career and fourth in team history:
Player FGM Season
Chris Boniol 27 1996
Chris Boniol 26 1995
Dan Bailey* 26 2011
Dan Bailey 21 2013^
Richie Cunningham* 18 1997
Nick Folk 16 2008-09
*indicates rookie ^will carry over next season
DezBryant finished tonight’s game with eight catches for 99 yards and a touchdown. For the season, he had 1,233 yards – a career-best and ninth in a season in franchise history:
Single-Season Receiving Yards (Cowboys)
Rnk Player Yards Season
1. Michael Irvin....... 1,603 1995
2. Michael Irvin....... 1,523 1991
3. Michael Irvin....... 1,396 1992
4. Dez Bryant......... 1,382 2012
5. Terrell Owens... 1,355 2007
6. Michael Irvin....... 1,330 1993
7. Miles Austin....... 1,320 2009
8. Michael Irvin....... 1,241 1994
9. Dez Bryant........ 1,233 2013
10. Bob Hayes......... 1,232 1966
Bryant’s touchdown catch tonight was his fifth straight game with a scoring reception – the second-longest streak of his career (seven in 2012).
For the season, Bryant had 13 touchdown catches – a single-season career-best and tied for third in a season in team history:
Single-Season Receiving TDs (Cowboys)
Rnk Player TDs Season
1. Terrell Owens...... 15 2007
2. Frank Clarke......... 14 1962
3. Bob Hayes............ 13 1966
Terrell Owens...... 13 2006
Dez Bryant........... 13 2013
For his career Bryant has 40 touchdown catches to become the eighth Cowboy with 40 career touchdown receptions.
Jason Hatcher had two sacks tonight for his third multi-sack game of the season and fourth of his career. For the season he racked up 11.0 sacks – a career-best – making him the 24th different Dallas Cowboy to reach 10.0 sacks in a season and it is the eighth consecutive season the Cowboys had a defender reach double-digit sacks. Dallas’ eight straight seasons with a defender at 10-or-more sacks ties the longest streak in franchise history (including when sacks were unofficial prior to 1982) 1964-71. Hatcher is the first defender, not named DeMarcus Ware, to reach 10.0 since Greg Ellis had 12.5 in 2007.
DeVonte Holloman registered his first career sacks tonight, finishing with two.
Chris Jones had two punts downed inside the 20-yard line which gave him 30 for the season - third in a season in team history.
DeMarco Murray rushed 17 times for 51 yards. Murray’s 1,124 yards this season are 18th in a season in team history.
Murray now has 542 career rushing attempts and passed Dan Reeves (535) for 12th in rushing attempts in club history.
Kyle Orton made his first start as a Dallas Cowboy tonight. It was his first start since playing for the Kansas City Chiefs (a win at Denver, 1/1/12). Orton also became the 36th different player to make a start at quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.
Orton finished the game 30-of-46 (65.2%) for 358 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. His 46 attempts were fourth in club history among quarterbacks making their first start as a Cowboy while his completions were third and yards were second.
TerranceWilliams caught one pass for 39 yards and finished the season with 44 catches for 736 yards and five touchdowns. All-time among Dallas Cowboys rookies, Williams’ receptions are tied for fourth in a season, while his yards are fourth and touchdowns are tied for fourth.
Cowboys Rookie Receptions (Season)
Player Rec. Season
Herschel Walker.............. 76 1986
Bob Hayes........................ 47 1965
Dez Bryant........................ 45 2010
Antonio Bryant.................. 44 2002
Terrance Williams......... 44 2013
Cowboys Rookie Receiving Yards (Season)
Player Yards Season
Bob Hayes.................. 1,023 1965
Herschel Walker........... 837 1986
Mike Sherrard................ 744 1986
Terrance Williams....... 736 2013
Antonio Bryant................ 733 2002
Cowboys Rookie Rec. TDs (Season)
Player TDs Season
Bob Hayes........................ 12 1965
Antonio Bryant.................... 6 2002
Dez Bryant.......................... 6 2010
Billy Joe DuPree................ 5 1973
Mike Sherrard..................... 5 1986
Michael Irvin........................ 5 1988
Terrance Williams............ 5 2013
Jason Witten appeared in his 171st straight game tonight. His 171 consecutive games played ties Cornell Green (1962-74) for third in team history. Dale Hellestrae (176, 1990-2000) and Bob Lilly (196, 1961-74) hold the top-two spots.
Witten caught a season-high 12 passes for a season-best 135 yards tonight. He has now caught at least one pass in 85 straight games and trails only Michael Irvin (117 from 1990-98) for the team record. Witten’s last game without a reception was at the N.Y. Giants (11/2/08).
Witten’s 135 yards gave him his 20th career 100-yard game and were good for fifth in a game in his career. His 12 catches were also good for fifth in his career.
Witten finished the season with 73 catches to give him his eighth career and seventh consecutive season with 70 catches – both second all-time among league tight ends.
Witten’s 851 yards marked his eight career and seventh consecutive 800-yard season – both second all-time among league tight ends.
Kyle Orton nearly played the part of unlikely hero after the Cowboys got the ball back with 1:49 remaining, needing only a field goal to win and trusty kicker Dan Bailey at the ready.
But Orton’s first pass, intended for Miles Austin, was intercepted by Brandon Boykin. It iced the game with 1:43 left.
“I just threw a bad pass,” Orton said. “Miles ran a great route, same play we scored on the play before, just went to Miles this time and just threw it behind him, and the guy made a nice catch on the ball.”
Austin, who may have played his final game for the Cowboys, shared the blame.
“I ran a post,” said Austin, who had two catches for 22 yards. “I tried to work my man. I don’t know if the MIKE [linebacker] was out. I don’t know if he didn’t want to bury the throw because someone was in there. It was a little bit… I should have broken it out, to be honest. I tried to break it out. I wish I could have broken it out. Just an unfortunate deal.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he has no concern about Tony Romo’s future after the team’s starting quarterback had his second back surgery in eight months.
The Cowboys committed $55 million in guaranteed money to Romo in March. A month later, Romo had a cyst removed from his back. On Friday morning, he had surgery to repair a herniated disc.
“The nature of his injury was not alarming,” Jones said after Sunday’s game. “As a result of what they saw when they had the surgery, it’s not alarming as to his future. It wasn’t complicated. It was readily addressable and should frankly expect the kind of rehab or recovery he had earlier with the cyst-type situation. I honestly know that he got quicker relief once he had the procedure. He got immediate relief and he’s doing well.”
By losing, the Dallas Cowboys know their final two opponents for next season. They will play New Orleans at home and Chicago on the road next year.
Along with their NFC East games, the Cowboys will play Arizona, San Francisco, Houston, Indianapolis and New Orleans at AT&T Stadium. They will be on the road against St. Louis, Seattle, Tennessee, Jacksonville and Chicago. The Jacksonville game will be played Nov. 19, 2014, at Wembley Stadium in London with their bye week to follow the next week.
The rest of the dates will come out in the spring.
The Cowboys will play six games against five 2013 playoff teams.
There are growing concerns over the effectiveness of longtime defensive staple DeMarcus Ware.
It seems age and injuries are catching up to the former All-Pro defender and his play slipped this season. And that’s why there are questions over his future with the Dallas Cowboys, as Ware is set to earn $12.25 million next year and will count for more than $14 million against the salary cap.
“We’ve got a lot of things to digest that we adjusted because of cap penalties we got and we pushed them forward,” owner Jerry Jones said. “We may have to make some tough decisions related to some high salaries.”
Ware said he would be willing to take a pay cut this off-season if it was for the betterment of the team.
“At the end of the day, I’m a team player,” Ware said. “I’ll do what I need to do to help the team.”
Asked if he though Sunday might be the last game for him with the Cowboys, Ware said: “I think about it sometimes, but that’s sort of the last thing on my mind. I’ve just got to get my body right for whatever opportunities await me.”
Ware went on to reveal a laundry list of injuries he’s dealt with this season. He had issues with both of his elbows, a torn right quad that sidelined him for three consecutive games and a herniated disk in his back that flared up.
But Ware did his best to play through it and had two tackles and a fumble recovery in the season finale. He finished the season with a career-low six sacks, getting all of them in four games.
The Cowboys will have one thing going for them this week -- home-field advantage. AT&T Stadium should have its largest crowd of the season, topping the 92,758 the Cowboys drew for the Broncos on Oct. 6.
"I take some of what we’re getting injury-wise to be able to play this game at home," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told the Star-Telegram. "Our fans can make a difference in this game. Their enthusiasm can really make the difference. We need a home-field atmosphere if we are counting on [Kyle] Orton and we’re counting on what we are with the team with that home-field atmosphere, and it is going to be…. We’ve sold everything available. We’ll have them hanging from their rafters. It’ll be one of our biggest crowds."
The Cowboys have drawn 613,179 this season, an average of 87,597. Their largest crowd ever was the NFL-record 105,121 who saw the regular-season opening of the $1.2 billion stadium in 2009. They also drew 100,621 for the Eagles in a Week 17 game that season.
The Cowboys are 22-17 all time at AT&T Stadium, including 5-2 this season.
"We are going to need our fans," receiver Dez Bryant said. "We've got some of the greatest fans in football. We are going to need them to be loud every third down, make sure they don't hear their play. We need them involved in this ball game."
Quarterback Tony Romo is out of the season after having back surgery. But the last memory of him in Sunday's 24-23 comeback victory against the Redskins last Sunday proved to be an award winner.
Romo’s game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins has been voted the GMC NEVER SAY NEVER MOMENT OF THE WEEK for Week 16, the NFL announced today.
Down 23-14 in the fourth quarter, Romo led the Cowboys to victory with 10 points in the final period. The final score came on a touchdown pass to running back DeMarco Murray on fourth and goal from the 10.
Making Romo's heroics even more special is that he played in the game with a herniated disc in his back that required season ending surgery on Friday and knocked him out of Sunday's season final against the Eagles.
The GMC Never Say Never Moment Of The Week is the best moment or play of the week that represents determination and perseverance. Fans voted for one of three moments on NFL.com/gmc to determine the GMC NEVER SAY NEVER MOMENT OF THE WEEK. The winner will also be announced Friday during NFL Network’s “Around the League” show and then posted on NFL.com.