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The 1996 Dallas Cowboys season would mark their 37th consecutive season in the NFL.

Regular season

Against the Chicago Bears in week one, Running back Emmitt Smith would leave the game late with an injury that left him temporary paralyzed. Though not career-threatening, Smith's injury would hamper his effectiveness for the duration of the season. Adding to their difficulties, star wide receiver Michael Irvin would be suspended for the first five games due his highly publicized off-season incidents. Star cornerback Deion Sanders would be the first player in the modern era of the NFL to start several games on both offense and defense.

After losing three of their first four games, the team would return to form and defeat former head coach Jimmy Johnson, then head coach of the Miami Dolphins on the way to their fifth consecutive NFC East title. Although Dallas still moved the ball well on offense, they had serious late-season trouble scoring touchdowns. They won games with Green Bay (21 to 6) and New England (12 to 6) (the season's eventual Super Bowl participants) without scoring a touchdown (seven field goals against Green Bay and four against New England).

The season would also see the return of former Cowboy Herschel Walker who added versatility as both a running back and kick off returner.

After defeating the Minnesota Vikings 40 to 15 in the first round of the playoffs at Texas Stadiummarker (which was, as of 2009, their last playoff win), the Cowboys would travel to Charlotte, North Carolina and lose the second year expansion team 12-4 NFC West Champion Carolina Panthers. Star receiver Michael Irvin was injured in the opening moments of the Carolina playoff game.

Notable additions to the team included linebacker Randall Godfrey and safety George Teague.

The Cowboys defeated the 49ers in their 10th game, ending a curious decade-long losing streak in week 10 games. (that included an 0-3 record in week 10 games during World Championship seasons)Also, with the win against the Miami Dolphins at Joe Robbie Stadium, this was the first time the Cowboys franchise won a football game in South Florida. During this period of futility, the Cowboys lost three Super Bowls in the Orange Bowl by a total of 11 points and lost twice to the Miami Dolphins in 1978 (23 to 16, also in a week 10 game) and in 1984 (28 to 21).


Opponent Result
at Chicago Bears 6 22 L
New York Giants 28 0 W
Indianapolis Colts 24 25 L
at Buffalo Bills 7 10 L
at Philadelphia Eagles 23 19 W
Arizona Cardinals 17 13 W
Atlanta Falcons 32 28 W
at Miami Dolphins 29 10 W
Philadelphia Eagles 21 31 L
at San Francisco 49ers 20 17 W
Green Bay Packers 21 6 W
at New York Giants 6 20 L
Washington Redskins 21 10 W
at Arizona Cardinals 10 6 W
New England Patriots 12 6 W
at Washington Redskins 10 37 L


NFC East
Dallas Cowboys 10 6 0 .625 286 250 L-1
Philadelphia Eagles 10 6 0 .625 363 341 W-2
Washington Redskins 9 7 0 .563 364 312 W-1
Arizona Cardinals 7 9 0 .438 300 397 L-1
New York Giants 6 10 0 .375 242 297 L-2



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