Throw It Back: Listless Cowboys Fall To Expansion Texans On Opening Night 19-10
(A season-by-season look at one game the 21st Century Dallas Cowboys would love to throw back)
2002: Week 1 Houston 19 Dallas 10
During the 1990’s, the Dallas Cowboys were an embarrassment of riches, owners of the most Super Bowls, the most Pro Bowlers, and the largest fanbase.
On September 8, 2002 they were only an embarrassment unto themselves.
In what NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue dubbed “the Texas Super Bowl,” the Cowboys were out-muscled, out-witted, and effectively out-classed by their infant football brothers from Houston, falling to the expansion Texans 19-10 to begin the 2002 season.
Before a frenzied crowd at beautiful Reliant Stadium, the hometown Texans started with a bang, needing only four plays on their opening possession before rookie QB David Carr found tight end Billy Miller for an easy touchdown.
Seemingly unconcerned, the Dallas offense responded by using their next seven drives to post six punts and one interception on the stat sheet. Dallas quarterback Quincy Carter even went the entire opening quarter without completing a pass.
A game that looked more like a preseason affair for the Cowboys (they were penalized 9 times for 117 yards) finally got interesting when Dallas tailback Michael Wiley broke through the defense for a 46-yard run that tied the game at 10-10. But when Dallas refused numerous opportunities to claim the lead, the Texans were finally there to answer the bell, as Carr connected with Corey Bradford on a 65-yard touchdown bomb.
Carter then answered with a whimper that befitted the Cowboys’ efforts for the evening – he was sacked in the end zone for a safety that sealed their fate.
“We did nothing good,” acknowledged Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith after the game.
Said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: “I’m disappointed for Cowboys fans everywhere.”
Such was the inauspicious start of another disastrous season for America’s Team, as the Cowboys never got above .500, benched their starting quarterback after seven games, and imploded down the stretch to finish at 5-11 for a third consecutive campaign.
(You can read more about the struggles of the 2002 Dallas Cowboys in Ryan Bush’s book “Decade of Futility.”)