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Another year, another disappointing Dallas Cowboys playoff exit, this time to the San Francisco 49ers. At this point, it’s beginning to feel like clockwork

Much like Charlie Brown having the football ripped away from him by Lucy before getting to attempt a field goal, the Cowboys seem to find themselves in the same position over and over. They look great in the regular season only to collapse in spectacular fashion when the calendar turns to January. 

They’ve collected so many frustrating finishes, it begs the question: What is the team’s most embarrassing loss? Here are the Cowboys’ last seven divisional-round flops, ranked from least to most embarrassing.

7. 2018: Rams 30, Cowboys 22

This wasn’t a remarkable loss for Dallas. They led the LA Rams early before being outscored 17-0 in the second quarter. A late rally wasn’t enough. The Rams went on to play in the Super Bowl, so at least the Cowboys lost to the NFC’s best.

6. 2016: Packers 34, Cowboys 31

This was a case of two very good teams playing a tightly-contested game. Dan Bailey’s 52-yard field goal with 35 seconds remaining gave Dallas what they thought would be the final lead. But it wasn’t over.

A Mason Crosby field goal with time expiring gave the Green Bay Packers the nod in this one, allowing them to edge out Dallas. The embarrassing component of this game was that Dallas lost at home in front of more than 93,000 fans. 

5. 2014: Packers 26, Cowboys 21 

In another close loss, this game is best remembered for Dez Bryant’s controversial non-catch. To this day, the catch’s veracity is debated. Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, the call didn’t go their way, and Green Bay defeated them in January yet again. 

4. 1996: Panthers 26, Cowboys 17 

The Carolina Panthers have been in the league for decades now. But 1996 was only their second season of pro football. Head coach Dom Capers took what had been an expansion team on a deep playoff run for an impressive season.

Contrast that to Dallas at the time: They had won three Super Bowls in the previous four seasons. They still had their core players who fueled that championship dynasty. Any way you look at it, the defending champs experienced a disappointing loss as the Panthers shocked the world. 

This postseason also marked their last postseason win (against Minnesota in the wild-card round) until a 2009 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. 

3. 2007: Giants 21, Cowboys 17

The 2007-08 Cowboys seemed to have it all. Tony Romo was their quarterback. Terrell Owens, a Hall of Fame wide receiver, was his go-to option in the passing attack.

They featured plenty of other weapons as they won an NFC East Championship and earned themselves a first-round bye in the playoffs. It seemed like they were destined for a showdown with the undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. 

The only problem: No one gave the upstart New York Giants the memo. The Giants, who the Cowboys swept 2-0 in the regular season, put together a gritty performance to gut their division rivals in Dallas on their way to a Super Bowl victory.

2. 2009: Vikings 31, Cowboys 3

Husain Abdullah of the Minnesota Vikings sacks Jon Kitna of the Dallas Cowboys during a 2009 game
Cowboys quarterback Jon Kitna is sacked by Husain Abdullah of the Minnesota Vikings in 2009 | Tom Dahlin/Getty Images

The less said about this game from the Cowboys’ perspective, the better. In yet another one of Romo’s many playoff disappointments, the Cowboys were blown off the field by Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings.

1. 2022: 49ers 19, Cowboys 12 

Coming in at No. 1: Dallas’s latest playoff disappointment. So why is this ranked most embarassing? Two reasons: First, Dak Prescott came up small in a game where he needed to come up big. Two costly interceptions hurt the team badly.

The second reason is the befuddling formation the team trotted out for the final play. There isn’t a football fan alive who could make sense of what they were trying to do. The failed play provided another example of this franchise’s inability to win when it counts over the past few decades.

Playoff results and game details courtesy of Pro Football Reference


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