|2002 Dallas Cowboys season|
|Head coach||Dave Campo|
|General manager||Jerry Jones|
|Home field||Texas Stadium|
|Division place||4th NFC East|
|Playoff finish||did not qualify|
|Pro Bowlers||La'Roi Glover DT|
|AP All-Pros||La'Roi Glover (2nd team)|
The 2002 Dallas Cowboys season was the 43rd season for the team in the National Football League. It was Emmitt Smith's 13th and final season with the team, officially marking the end of the famed "triplets" tenure in Dallas after wide receiver Michael Irvin was forced to retire prematurely after the 1999 season and quarterback Troy Aikman retired prior to the start of the 2001 season. All three players would eventually be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was also the last of three consecutive 5-11 finishes for the Cowboys, beginning in 2000.
|TE Tony McGee (Bengals)||QB Ryan Leaf (Seahawks)|
|LB Kevin Hardy (Jaguars)||LS Mike Solwold (Buccaneers)|
|DT La'Roi Glover (Saints)||WR Darrin Chiaverini (Falcons)|
|WR Darnay Scott (Bengals)||FS Izell Reese (Broncos)|
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.
|2002 Dallas Cowboys draft|
|1||8||Roy Williams *||S||Oklahoma|
|2||37||Andre Gurode *||C||Colorado|
|3||75||Derek Ross||CB||Ohio State|
|4||129||Jamar Martin||FB||Ohio State|
|5||168||Pete Hunter||DB||Virginia Union|
|6||179||Tyson Walter||G||Ohio State|
|6||208||Deveren Johnson||WR||Sacred Heart||compensatory|
|6||211||Bob Slowikowski||TE||Virginia Tech||compensatory|
|Pro Football Hall of Fame Made at least one Pro Bowl during careerMade roster|
|Khary Campbell||Linebacker||Bowling Green|
|Woodrow Dantzler||Running back||Clemson|
|Keith Davis||Safety||Sam Houston State|
|Filip Filipovi?||Punter||South Dakota|
The air would immediately be let out of the Cowboys' balloon in the opening regular season contest which saw the team suffer a 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 into 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.
It is believed 2002 was the first time a NFL franchise had five African American starters on their offensive line, when the Cowboys lined up rookie center Andre Gurode, tackles Flozell Adams and Solomon Page, guards Larry Allen and Kelvin Garmon.
The Cowboys kept making NFL history 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. 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 a 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.
|September 8, 2002||at Houston Texans||L 19-10||0-1|
|September 15, 2002||Tennessee Titans||W 21-13||1-1|
|September 22, 2002||at Philadelphia Eagles||L 44-13||1-2|
|September 29, 2002||at St. Louis Rams||W 13-10||2-2|
|October 6, 2002||New York Giants||L 21-17||2-3|
|October 13, 2002||Carolina Panthers||W 14-13||3-3|
|October 20, 2002||at Arizona Cardinals||L 9-6||3-4|
|October 27, 2002||Seattle Seahawks||L 17-14||3-5|
|November 3, 2002||at Detroit Lions||L 9-7||3-6|
|November 17, 2002||at Indianapolis Colts||L 20-3||3-7|
|November 24, 2002||Jacksonville Jaguars||W 21-19||4-7|
|November 28, 2002||Washington Redskins||W 27-20||5-7|
|December 8, 2002||San Francisco 49ers||L 31-27||5-8|
|December 15, 2002||at New York Giants||L 37-7||5-9|
|December 21, 2002||Philadelphia Eagles||L 27-3||5-10|
|December 29, 2002||at Washington Redskins||L 20-14||5-11|
|(5)New York Giants||10||6||0||.625||5-1||8-4||320||279||W4|