American Football Database

The 2002 Dallas Cowboys season was the 43rd for the team in the NFL.

2002 Dallas Cowboys season
Head Coach Dave Campo
Home Field Texas Stadium
Record 5–11
Place 4th NFC East
Playoff Finish did not qualify
Previous season Next season
2001 2003


Despite an off-season filled with promise, the season would again prove to be a disaster. Former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator and head coach Bruce Coslet was brought in to run the offense for Dallas. Even though he was dismissed by Cincinnati, his history of high-powered offenses while running the Bill Walsh style West Coast offense provided hope for the Cowboys. A promising draft which included former Oklahoma Sooners All-American selection safety Roy Williams in the first round and the free agent addition of Pro Bowl defensive tackle La'Roi Glover provided even more hope for weary Cowboy fans. The team was also covered throughout training camp and featured on the HBO series Hard Knocks with a strong emphasis on the anticipation of running back Emmitt Smith's road to the NFL's All-Time rushing record.

NFL Draft

Pick # NFL Team Player Position College
8 Dallas Cowboys (from Kansas City) Roy Williams Free Safety Oklahoma

Regular season

The air would immediately be let out of the Cowboys' balloon in the opening regular season contest which saw the team suffer a humiliating defeat to first year expansion team and new cross state rival, the Houston Texans. Though quarterback Quincy Carter again opened the season as the starter, he would eventually be benched in favor of newly signed Chad Hutchinson who, until that year, had been a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals after leaving Stanford as a two sport star. Many believed that owner Jerry Jones pressured head coach Dave Campo in to starting Hutchinson much too early, due in part to the large signing bonus Jones paid to acquire the quarterback. Regardless, neither quarterback proved effective and the team once again spiraled towards a losing season.

The Cowboys would later make NFL history while playing on October 27 at home against the Seattle Seahawks. Despite a close loss, Emmitt Smith would break the all-time career yardage rushing record previously held by Walter Payton.[1] The game was stopped momentarily in recognition of the moment, allowing an emotional Smith to briefly celebrate with teammates both current and past who attended the game, as well as members of Payton's family. Smith would also later score his 125th rushing touchdown of his career on the same drive. The milestone moment would provide the lone bright spot of the year for the team and Smith, who would fail to reach the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the season for the first time in his career since his rookie season of 1990. Overshadowed by the NFL rushing landmark, safety Darren Woodson quietly also became the Dallas Cowboys all-time leading tackler.

During a late season loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, reports began to surface that owner Jerry Jones had secretly met with former New York Giants, New England Patriots and New York Jets head coach Bill Parcells in relation to the head coaching position with the Dallas Cowboys on board Jones' private jet. Though this would prove to be an critical move to the Cowboys future success, it was nonetheless embarrassing for current head coach Dave Campo who had received no word that any potential moves were pending, and Jerry Jones was roundly criticized for the incident. On field ineptitude and off field controversy would once again lead to a 5–11 season, the team's third consecutive such finish. Dave Campo would be predictably dismissed after the season.

Notable additions to the team include wide receiver Antonio Bryant, and center Andre Gurode.


Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 8, 2002 at Houston Texans L 19–10
2 September 15, 2002 Tennessee Titans W 21–13
3 September 22, 2002 at Philadelphia Eagles L 44–13
4 September 29, 2002 at St. Louis Rams W 13–10
5 October 6, 2002 New York Giants L 21–17
6 October 13, 2002 Carolina Panthers W 14–13
7 October 20, 2002 at Arizona Cardinals L 9–6
8 October 27, 2002 Seattle Seahawks L 17–14
9 November 3, 2002 at Detroit Lions L 9–7
10 Bye
11 November 17, 2002 at Indianapolis Colts L 20–3
12 November 24, 2002 Jacksonville Jaguars W 21–19
13 November 28, 2002 Washington Redskins W 27–20
14 December 8, 2002 San Francisco 49ers L 31–27
15 December 15, 2002 at New York Giants L 37–7
16 December 21, 2002 Philadelphia Eagles L 27–3
17 December 29, 2002 at Washington Redskins L 20–14


NFC East
view · talk · edit W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
* (1) Philadelphia Eagles 12 4 0 .750 5–1 11–1 415 241 L1
y (5) New York Giants 10 6 0 .625 5–1 8–4 320 279 W4
Washington Redskins 7 9 0 .438 1–5 4–8 307 365 W2
Dallas Cowboys 5 11 0 .313 1–5 3–9 217 329 L4


Dallas Cowboys 2002 roster

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen


Defensive Backs

Special Teams

Reserve Lists

Rookies in italics
53 Active, 11 Inactive

Awards and records


  1. Numbelivable!, p.159, Michael X. Ferraro and John Veneziano, Triumph Books, Chicago, Illinois, 2007, ISBN 978-1-57243-990-0
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2002 NFL DraftNFL PlayoffsPro BowlSuper Bowl XXXVII