The 2006 Dallas Cowboys season was the 47th season for the team in the National Football League. The season began with the team trying to improve on their 9–7 record in 2005. The base offense was changed to a 2-TE formation. Several high-profile free agents were signed including controversial wide receiver Terrell Owens and kicker Mike Vanderjagt. Veteran defensive end Greg Ellis was also converted into a linebacker.
Although veteran Drew Bledsoe was the initial starter at quarterback, fourth-year backup Tony Romo replaced Bledsoe at half-time of their week 7 matchup with the Giants. Romo became the starter in week 8 due to Bledsoe's rough starts with frequent sacks and interceptions. Romo initially played very well, going 5–1 in his first six NFL starts, including a win over the previously unbeaten Indianapolis Colts, but finished the season 1–3 with six touchdowns, six interceptions and two fumbles lost. The Cowboys secured a playoff berth for the first time since 2003, but did not win the division when in the final week they were defeated by the then 2–13 Lions, and wound up losing their first week in the playoffs to the Seattle Seahawks, a game in which Romo botched the hold on a go-ahead field goal inside the final two minutes.
When Romo started the Thanksgiving Day game against Tampa Bay, it marked the 7th different starting Cowboys quarterback in the last 7 Thanksgiving Day games (Troy Aikman, Ryan Leaf, Chad Hutchison, Quincy Carter, Drew Henson, Drew Bledsoe and Romo).
This was Bill Parcells' final season as a head coach as he would go on to retire following the end of the season.
|2006 Dallas Cowboys season|
|Head coach||Bill Parcells|
|General manager||Jerry Jones|
|Home field||Texas Stadium|
|Division place||2nd NFC East|
|Playoff finish||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Seahawks) 21–20|
|Pro Bowlers||Flozell Adams T|
Andre Gurode C
Mat McBriar P
Tony Romo QB
DeMarcus Ware LB
Roy Williams S
Jason Witten TE
|AP All-Pros||Mat McBriar (2nd team)|
DeMarcus Ware (2nd team)
During the 2006 offseason, the team signed several high-profile players, including kicker Mike Vanderjagt, linebacker Akin Ayodele, offensive linemen Jason Fabini and Kyle Kosier, safety Marcus Coleman, and highly controversial wide receiver Terrell Owens, who has developed a reputation for causing conflicts with teammates, coaches, opposing players, and fans. The signing of Terrell Owens received a lot of media attention, and was arguably the biggest news story during the NFL offseason. Vanderjagt had the highest field goal percentage in NFL history coming into the season and his signing was expected to solve the inconsistency problems in the Cowboys kicking game. However, Vanderjagt missed most of the pre-season with an injury and missed three very short kicks (including an extra point) in the final pre-season game (which ended in a tie).
The Cowboys also lost veteran leadership in the locker room after losing tight end Dan Campbell to the Detroit Lions, wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson to the Carolina Panthers, left guard Larry Allen to the San Francisco 49ers, defensive tackle La'Roi Glover to the St. Louis Rams, and linebacker Dat Nguyen to a career-ending injury.
The team didn't receive much help from the 2006 NFL draft, but experienced much more success with that year's rookie undrafted free agents: Miles Austin, Stephen Bowen, Sam Hurd and Oliver Hoyte. Abram Elam who was an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins in 2005 and was out of football after being released in training camp that year, also contributed in special teams and in some defensive packages.
|2006 Dallas Cowboys draft|
|1||18||Bobby Carpenter||LB||Ohio State|
|2||53||Anthony Fasano||TE||Notre Dame|
|3||92||Jason Hatcher *||DE||Grambling State|
|5||138||Pat Watkins||S||Florida State|
|7||211||Pat McQuistan||OT||Weber State|
|7||224||E.J. Whitley||OT||Texas Tech|
|Pro Football Hall of Fame Made at least one Pro Bowl during careerMade roster|
|Date||Opponent||Result||Game site||NFL Recap|
|August 12, 2006||Seattle Seahawks||W 13–3||Qwest Field||Recap|
|August 21, 2006||New Orleans Saints||W 30–7||Independence Stadium||Recap|
|August 26, 2006||San Francisco 49ers||W 17–7||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|August 31, 2006||Minnesota Vikings||T 10–10||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|Week||Date||Opponent||Result||Game site||NFL Recap|
|1||September 10, 2006||at Jacksonville Jaguars||L 24–17||Alltel Stadium||Recap|
|2||September 17, 2006||Washington Redskins||W 27–10||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|3||September 24, 2006||Bye|
|4||October 1, 2006||at Tennessee Titans||W 45–14||LP Field||Recap|
|5||October 8, 2006||at Philadelphia Eagles||L 38–24||Lincoln Financial Field||Recap|
|6||October 15, 2006||Houston Texans||W 34–6||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|7||October 23, 2006||New York Giants||L 36–22||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|8||October 29, 2006||at Carolina Panthers||W 35–14||Bank of America Stadium||Recap|
|9||November 5, 2006||at Washington Redskins||L 22–19||Fedex Field||Recap|
|10||November 12, 2006||at Arizona Cardinals||W 27–10||University of Phoenix Stadium||Recap|
|11||November 19, 2006||Indianapolis Colts||W 21–14||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|12||November 23, 2006||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||W 38–10||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|13||December 3, 2006||at New York Giants||W 23–20||Giants Stadium||Recap|
|14||December 10, 2006||New Orleans Saints||L 42–17||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|15||December 16, 2006||at Atlanta Falcons||W 38–28||Georgia Dome||Recap|
|16||December 25, 2006||Philadelphia Eagles||L 23–7||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|17||December 31, 2006||Detroit Lions||L 39–31||Texas Stadium||Recap|
|(3) Philadelphia Eagles||10||6||0||.625||5–1||9–3||398||328||W5|
|(5) Dallas Cowboys||9||7||0||.563||2–4||6–6||425||350||L2|
|(6) New York Giants||8||8||0||.500||4–2||7–5||355||362||W1|
The Cowboys opened the regular season on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 10. The Cowboys built a lead of 10–0 just 10 minutes into the game, but allowed 24 consecutive points in later quarters. Quarterback Drew Bledsoe threw two interceptions, and placekicker Shaun Suisham missed a field goal off the right upright. The Cowboys scored again during the final minutes of the fourth quarter, when newly signed wide receiver Terrell Owens caught his first touchdown in a Dallas uniform, which was also his first regular-season game since October 2005. Dallas attempted and failed an onside kick, but received the ball again when their defense prevented the Jaguars from getting a first down. The Cowboys drive to tie the game ended with a Bledsoe interception. With the loss, the Cowboys started out their season at 0–1. Stats
Mike Vanderjagt kicked two field goals, one of which was 50 yards long. Drew Bledsoe threw for a touchdown in the first and the fourth quarters for the first time since 2005. The Cowboys defense allowed no touchdowns, with the only touchdown for the Redskins coming from a kickoff return by Rock Cartwright). It was also the first time that the Cowboys had allowed zero second-half points since November 20, 2005 against the Detroit Lions. Stats
In the game, Terrell Owens broke his finger.
With the win, the Cowboys went into their bye week at 1–1.
After their Bye Week, the Cowboys traveled to LP Field to face the Tennessee Titans. Rookie Quarterback Vince Young made his first NFL start for the Titans. Quarterback Drew Bledsoe threw two touchdowns in the first half to Terry Glenn. Each of the three Cowboys running backs, Julius Jones, Marion Barber, and Tyson Thompson, rushed for a touchdown in the second half. Bradie James returned an interception 15 yards for his first career touchdown. Tony Romo played during the final two drives after Dallas took a 38–14 lead. Kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed a 26-yard field goal wide right late in the first half, but later kicked a 43-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Despite breaking a finger two weeks earlier, wide receiver Terrell Owens started and caught five passes for 88 yards. Also, rookie Pat Watkins returned a lost Titans fumble 53 yards during the fourth quarter as the Cowboys held on for the win to improve their record to 2–1. Stats
During the game, Tennessee Titans linebacker Albert Haynesworth stomped on Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode. Haynesworth was suspended for five games without pay. . Later during the week, Terrell Owens accidentally overdosed on painkillers causing a media circus, but recovered within a day. 
The game received significant attention due to Terrell Owens' return to Philadelphia, where he had played for 2 years with considerable controversy. Owens had 3 receptions for 45 yards. The Eagles capitalized on early Dallas turnovers, and the Cowboys fell behind 10–0. The Cowboys rallied to score a touchdown. At halftime, the Cowboys were up 21–17. However, in the second half the Cowboys offense was dominated by the Eagles defense and were held to only 3 points. In the fourth quarter, the defining play took place as the Cowboys, assisted by a pass interference penalty, managed to reach the Eagles six-yard line with less than a minute left. On second and goal, Drew Bledsoe threw an interception in the end zone that was returned 102 yards by Lito Sheppard for a touchdown, essentially ending any chance of a Dallas victory as the team fell to 2–2. Stats
Hoping to rebound from their road loss to the Eagles, the Cowboys returned home for a Week 6 battle against their in-state rival, the Houston Texans. In the first quarter, Dallas trailed early when Kris Brown kicked a 19-yard field goal for an early Houston 3–0 lead. In the second quarter, the Cowboys tied the game at 3–3 when Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 22-yard field goal. At the end of the first half, Houston regained the lead when Brown kicked a 48-yard field goal. For the rest of the game, the Dallas defense shut out the Houston Texans. Drew Bledsoe and Terrell Owens hooked up on two touchdown passes, and Marion Barber ran a 1-yard touchdown, Vanderjagt kicked another 21-yard field goal, and backup quarterback Tony Romo threw another touchdown pass to Owens. Tony Romo completed his first two NFL passes, including one touchdown.
With the win, the Cowboys improved to 3–2.
Hoping to build on their win over the Houston Texans, the Cowboys stayed at home for a Monday Night match-up with their NFC East rival, the New York Giants. On the Giants opening drive, Eli Manning threw a 50-yard touchdown to Plaxico Burress. Later in the first quarter after Jeff Feagles punted inside the one-yard line, LaVar Arrington sacked Drew Bledsoe in the endzone for a safety. In the second quarter, Giants kicker Jay Feely kicked a 31-yard field goal. Dallas would score before halftime as Bledsoe ran 1-yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak. Bledsoe also threw a costly interception just before halftime that would have given the Cowboys a 14–12 lead at the break. Due to Bledsoe's abysmal performance, head coach Bill Parcells replaced him with backup quarterback Tony Romo at the start of the second half. Not much had changed for the Giants in the third quarter as Manning threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey and Brandon Jacobs got a 3-yard touchdown run. In the fourth quarter, the Romo completed an 8-yard TD pass to WR Terrell Owens, and Romo ran into the endzone for a two-point conversion. The Giants pulled away as Feely kicked a 32-yard field goal, while rookie cornerback Kevin Dockery would return an interception 96 yards for a touchdown. Even though Romo threw a 53-yard touchdown to Patrick Crayton, the damage had already been done.
With the loss, the Cowboys fell to 3–3.
Six days after losing at home, Tony Romo made his first NFL regular season start against the Carolina Panthers, and he threw for 270 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. In the first quarter, the Panthers scored 14 points when DeShaun Foster, and later Steve Smith ran a touchdown, but those were the last points that Dallas allowed in the game. In the second quarter, Jason Witten caught a touchdown pass and Mike Vanderjagt kicked a field goal. In the fourth quarter, Dallas scored a franchise record 25 points on a Julius Jones run, two Marion Barber runs, another Mike Vanderjagt field goal, two extra points and a two-point conversion caught by Terrell Owens. Terrell Owens had his first 100+ yard game with 107 receiving yards. Julius Jones ran 92 yards for 616 yards in 7 games to start the season. Steve Smith was held to only 55 receiving yards and former Cowboys receiver Keyshawn Johnson only had one catch for 19 yards. The game marked unusual emotion from Bill Parcells, who was moved by the appearance of his former Giants players (such as Jim Burt) and who embraced many of his players late in the game.
With the win, the Cowboys improved to 4–3.
With the emergence of QB Tony Romo in their road victory over the Panthers, the Cowboys flew to FedExField for a rematch with the Washington Redskins. In the first quarter, Dallas trailed early as Redskins MLB Lemar Marshall tackled RB Julius Jones in the endzone for a safety and kicker Nick Novak kicked a 28-yard field goal. In the second quarter, the Cowboys started to fight back, as Romo completed a 10-yard TD pass to WR Terry Glenn (with a failed two-point conversion) and kicker Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 33-yard field goal. The 'Skins would retaliate as RB Clinton Portis ran 38 yards for a touchdown, yet Vanderjagt would allow Dallas to tie at halftime on a 30-yard field goal. In the third quarter, the Cowboys increased their lead with Romo completing a 4-yard TD pass to WR Terrell Owens, who would do a "sleeping celebration." afterwards. He would get flagged for excessive celebration. The "sleeping celebration" referenced Owens' admission earlier in the week that he has trouble staying awake during team meetings. In the fourth quarter, Washington fought back with QB Mark Brunell completing an 18-yard TD pass to TE Chris Cooley. Afterwards, the Redskins would block a 35-yard field goal try by Vanderjagt, which would get picked up by Sean Taylor and returned it 30 yards before getting tackled. Even though time ran out, the Redskins would get one chance to win, due to a face mask infraction penalty on Guard Kyle Kosier. Washington took advantage, as Novak kicked the game-winning 47-yard field goal to drop Dallas to 4–4. Stats
The Cowboys bounced back from a painful loss by beating the Cardinals, who came into the game with the league's worst record at 1–7. Tony Romo passed for 308 yards in his best game to date as a starter. Greg Ellis was also lost for the year in this game due to a torn achilles, costing the Cowboys a key contributor and one of only 2 players who could consistently rush the passer.
With the win, the Cowboys improved to 5–4. Stats
In what Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said was the best win in at least eight to ten years, the Cowboys beat the previously undefeated Colts 21–14. The game was nationally televised on CBS, having been moved from 1:00pm to 4:15pm (EST) because of the NFL's new "flex scheduling" policy. It was the first game played between the two teams at Texas Stadium in ten years. With the rest of the NFC East losing that weekend, the Cowboys were tied with the New York Giants for first place in the NFC East, and in a tie for second place in the NFC. The Cowboys chances of winning the division, and possibly a first-round bye in the playoffs were suddenly much brighter, especially with the rival Philadelphia Eagles losing Donovan McNabb for the season.
With the win, the Cowboys improved to 6–4.
The Cowboys slugged the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38–10 in the annual Thanksgiving Day game. Tony Romo had his best game so far throwing for 306 yards and a near-perfect 148.9 passer rating, and he tied a team record with five touchdown passes in one game. No Cowboys quarterback had done that since Troy Aikman in the 1999 season opener (including overtime), and since Danny White in 1983 in regulation. Romo's five touchdown passes were the most ever for a Thanksgiving Day game. Stats
On 27 November 2006, the Cowboys cut kicker Mike Vanderjagt and signed veteran Martin Gramatica in his place. Vanderjagt had made only 13 of 18 field goals in the season, well below his career average.
With the win, the Cowboys improved to 7–4.
The Cowboys extended their winning streak to four straight wins in a close game when newly signed place kicker Martin Gramatica kicked a 46-yard field goal with one second remaining. The Giants lost their fourth straight game and the Cowboys secured a two-game lead over the Giants.
With the win, the Cowboys improved to 8–4.
This game was moved from the originally scheduled time at 1:00pm to 4:15pm (EST) because of the NFL's new "flex scheduling" policy.
On November 27, the NFL announced that the game was moved to 8:15 p.m. EST (7:15 p.m. CST) to be nationally televised on NBC Sunday Night Football.
New Orleans Head Coach and former Dallas Offensive Coordinator, as well as Passing Coordinator, Sean Payton thoroughly dissected the Cowboys defense by showcasing the talents of Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, and Deuce McAllister. Perhaps more surprising was the performance of Mike Karney. Previously an unknown fullback who had never had a touchdown in his 43 NFL games, Karney scored a hat trick (three touchdowns). Brees topped 4,000 season passing yards for the first time in his career, having 26 completions for 38 attempts and 384 yards and five touchdowns. Deuce McCallister and Reggie Bush both proved their worth with 135 and 162 all-purpose yards, respectively. Payton was even feeling so confident as to attempt an onside kick early in the third quarter, further demoralizing the Cowboys and increasing momentum for the Saints when they recovered it. With 3 minutes left in the game and the ball deep in Cowboys territory, Payton's Saints went to kneeling, either to let Parcells keep some of his pride intact, or to make a statement.
The Cowboys had one of the worst games of their season. Payton's defense never gave them a chance to get into a rhythm, and Tony Romo threw for 16 completions of 33 attempts for 249 yards for a single touchdown and a pair of interceptions. The Cowboys started out promising, stopping the Saints' offense and Julius Jones responding with a career record 77-yard touchdown run. Though after that play, nothing seemed to go right. Gramatica missed another crucial field goal, soaring wide right, and the only other touchdown came from a fourth-down pass to Terrell Owens that could have been an interception had cornerback Fred Thomas not had a cast on his hand.
New Orleans defeated Dallas 42–17, snapping Dallas' four-game winning streak and dropping them to 8–5 while improving their own record to 9–4. Stats
Hoping to rebound from their Sunday night home loss to the Saints, the Cowboys flew to the Georgia Dome for a Saturday night fight with the Atlanta Falcons. In the first quarter, Dallas took an early lead with QB Tony Romo completed a 7-yard TD pass to WR Terrell Owens for the only score of the period. In the second quarter, the Cowboys increased its lead as on the very first play, OLB DeMarcus Ware returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown. However, the Falcons started to fight back with QB Michael Vick completing a 1-yard TD pass to FB Justin Griffith and a 9-yard TD pass to WR Michael Jenkins. Fortunately, the 'Boys struck back with Romo and Owens hooking up with each other again with a 51-yard TD pass. Yet again, Atlanta fought back with Vick completing an 8-yard TD pass to WR Ashley Lelie. In the third quarter, Dallas temporarily fell behind with Vick completing 5-yard TD pass to Griffith. Afterwards, the Cowboys regained control with kicker Martin Gramatica's 48-yard field goal and RB Marion Barber 9-yard TD run. In the fourth quarter, Barber helped the Cowboys wrap the game up with a 3-yard TD run. With the win, the 'Boys improved to 9–5 and put themselves in position to clinch a playoff berth following the day. Stats
Following a Saturday thrashing over the Falcons, the Cowboys returned home, donned their 1960s throwbacks again, and prepared for an NFC East rematch on Christmas Day with the Philadelphia Eagles. In the first quarter, the 'Boys trailed early with QB Jeff Garcia completing a 25-yard TD pass to TE Matt Schobel for the only score of the period. In the second quarter, Philadelphia's lead increased with kicker David Akers nailing a 25-yard field goal. Dallas would get its only score of the game with QB Tony Romo completing a 14-yard TD pass to WR Terrell Owens. Afterwards, the Eagles wrapped up the half with Akers kicking a 45-yard field goal. In the third quarter, Philly's lead increased with Akers' 21-yard field goal for the only score of the period. In the fourth quarter, Dallas fell with RB Correll Buckhalter's 1-yard TD run. With the loss, the Cowboys fell to 9–6 and out of first place in the NFC East. Stats
Following their loss to the Eagles, the Cowboys wrapped up the regular season at home against the 2–13 Detroit Lions. In the first quarter, Dallas shockingly trailed early as Lions kicker Jason Hanson nailed a 33-yard and a 25-yard field goal, while QB Jon Kitna completed a 20-yard TD pass to WR Roy Williams. In the second quarter, the Cowboys took the lead with RB Marion Barber getting a 1-yard TD run, while QB Tony Romo completed a 6-yard TD pass to WR Patrick Crayton. However, Detroit regained its lead with Kitna and Williams hooking up with each other again on a 15-yard TD pass. In the third quarter, the back-and-forth battle began with Dallas CB Terence Newman returning a punt 56 yards for a touchdown. However, the Lions regained the lead with Hanson kicking a 26-yard field goal, while Kitna completed a 13-yard TD pass to WR Mike Furrey. Afterwards, Cowboys kicker Martin Gramatica helped Dallas with a 39-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, the Cowboys took the lead with Romo completing a 56-yard TD pass to WR Terrell Owens. However, Detroit regained the lead with Kitna completing a 21-yard TD pass to WR Mike Williams and Hanson kicking a 23-yard field goal. Late in the game, Dallas had one last chance to take back the lead, but on 4th & Goal, Romo's run towards the endzone was stopped one yard short. With the shocking loss, the Cowboys ended the regular season at 9–7 and with the NFC's #5 seed. Stats
Entering the NFC playoffs as the fifth-seed, the Cowboys began their playoff run at Qwest Field against the fourth-seeded Seattle Seahawks. In the first quarter, both teams started off even as Seahawks kicker Josh Brown nailed a 23-yard field goal, while Martín Gramática helped Dallas with a 50-yard field goal. In the second quarter, Seattle retook the lead with Brown kicking a 30-yard field goal. Dallas got the lead before halftime as QB Tony Romo completed a 13-yard TD pass to WR Patrick Crayton. In the third quarter, the Seahawks retook the lead as QB Matt Hasselbeck completed a 15-yard TD pass to TE Jerramy Stevens. Following Seattle's TD drive, the Cowboys retook the lead with rookie WR Miles Austin returning a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Dallas increased its lead with Gramatica kicking a 29-yard field goal. However, the Seahawks came back to retake the lead with a safety coming off a Terry Glenn fumble from Seattle CB Kelly Jennings, along with Hasselbeck completing a 37-yard TD pass to Stevens (followed up with a failed 2-point conversion). Dallas managed to put themselves in a position to retake the lead, but on the 19-yard field goal try Romo botched the hold. He picked up the loose ball and attempted to run with it, but was tackled at Seattle's two-yard line by Jordan Babineaux thus turning the ball over on downs. On the ensuing possession, Hasselbeck then handed the ball off four times before the Seahawks were forced to punt. With only 2 seconds left, Romo threw a Hail Mary pass to the Seattle end zone that fell incomplete, ending the Cowboys' season and leaving the franchise still without a playoff win since 1996. Stats
With the loss, Dallas ended its season with three-straight losses and an overall record of 9–8.
|Dallas Cowboys 2006 coaching staff|
Special Teams Coaches
Strength and Conditioning
|Dallas Cowboys 2006 opening training camp roster|
Rookies in italics
|Dallas Cowboys 2006 week one roster|
Rookies in italics
|Dallas Cowboys 2006 final roster|
Rookies in italics
|Division championships (23)|
|Conference championships (10)|
|League Championships (5)|
|Current league affiliations|
Championship seasons in bold