The Cowboys made all kinds of offseason splashes to try and improve from a 2011 season that finished with an 8-8 record and loss in the season finale with the NFC East title on the line. As it turned out, the free-agent signings, draft-day trade for Morris Claiborne and a full offseason to adjust to Rob Ryan’s defensive scheme didn’t help the Cowboys finish any better or differently in 2012, which ended with another 8-8 campaign and a final-game loss to the Redskins, who won the division.


  • Beating the Giants on opening night -- Before this game, the defending champions had won seven straight season openers. But the Cowboys were motivated to avenge the season-finale loss to the Giants. Tony Romo threw three touchdowns, including two to Kevin Ogletree. The defense stifled Eli Manning for most of the game and the Cowboys were clearly the better team on this night, winning 31-24.
  • Emotional comeback in Cincinnati -- While it’s hard to call anything that happened that weekend as a highlight, the Cowboys did their best to turn the most devastating of circumstances into somewhat of a positive, from a football standpoint. After learning of the tragic news that teammate Jerry Brown had been killed in a one-car accident that involved Josh Brent, who was arrested on the scene, the Cowboys found a way to fight through the emotions and beat the Bengals 20-19, thanks to 10 points in the final eight minutes. The win kept their playoff hopes alive, but served as a minor consolation to what had been a tumultuous 48 hours.
  • Record breaking season for Witten -- What a whirlwind season it was for Jason Witten, whose season nearly didn’t even occur because of a lacerated spleen injury he suffered early in camp. But not only did he return to action for the first game, but Witten finished with a NFL record 110 catches, the most by a tight end in a single season. He also surpassed Michael Irvin (750) for the franchise record in all-time catches. Witten, who now has 806 receptions, nearly got to Irvin’s single-season Cowboys record for catches by any player with 111. This year, Witten had 18 catches against the Giants on Oct. 28, setting an NFL single-game record for a tight end.


  • Losing to Redskins in finale -- Jason Witten said in training camp “this can’t be the same old story this year.” Well, it was the same story as the Cowboys once again failed to get it done with the season on the line. The Cowboys allowed 200 yards rushing to Redskins rookie RB Alfred Morris and while they nearly pulled off another fourth-quarter rally, Tony Romo threw his third interception in the fourth quarter and the Cowboys never recovered, losing 28-18 as the Redskins captured the NFC East title.
  • Smacked down in Seattle -- The Cowboys teased their fans for about 10 days following the season-opening win over the Giants, having them think things might be different in 2012. But they got a rude reality check to the hands of the Seahawks, who physically beat them up in a 27-7 win in Seattle. The Cowboys fumbled the opening kickoff and had a punt blocked for a touchdown in the opening minutes of the game.
  • Midseason clock management issues -- The Cowboys dropped two games in a three-week span, while Jason Garrett’s clock management was called into questioned. Against the Ravens, the Cowboys were driving for a game-winning field goal after recovering an onside kick. But with 26 seconds and a timeout in hand, the Cowboys decided not to run another play to give Dan Bailey a closer kick. They let the clock drip down to a few seconds, but Bailey hooked the ball slightly on a 51-yard attempt as the Cowboys lost 31-29. Two weeks later, the Cowboys were trying to rally from a 23-0 deficit to the Giants and had second-1 at the Giants’ 19, but opted for three straight passes, the last of which was picked off en route to a 29-24 defeat.

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