By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
This season the Dallas Cowboys will play on Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the day after New Year's. Despite the lack of a holiday tie-in, they'd like to climax their schedule with an unprecedented event in the franchise's 50-year history:
A February game.
"You can't help but know it's out there," owner Jerry Jones said on his weekly KRLD-FM 105.3 The Fan radio show last week about Super Bowl XLV, to be played February 6, 2011, at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. "We've got a lot of football to play and a lot of improvement to make—we're just getting started. But boy wouldn't that be something?"
Following an 11-5 season in which they won the NFC East and a playoff game, the Cowboys are fresh off a lackluster preseason in which the offense moved the ball about as swiftly as a herd of hippos navigating water coated in BP sludge. Nonetheless, Sunday night in Washington against the Redskins, Dallas begins its quest to become the first team in NFL history to play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium.
With a little luck, a lot of health and some unexpected plot twists, their journey will indeed end on Randol Mill Road and look something like this:
Sunday at Washington Redskins: If the Cowboys proved one thing last year, it's that they know how to beat past-his-prime quarterback Donovan McNabb. Mike Shanahan is fuming, training camp is long forgotten and Martellus Bennett is fined for a controversial YouTube video in which he raps about Lady Gaga hooking up with George Allen's corpse. Cowboys 20, Redskins 16. 1-0.
September 19 vs. Chicago Bears: A sloppy performance is rescued when Tony Romo hits Miles Austin with the game-winning 50-yard touchdown pass. "It was a rainbow!" says misty-eyed, strangely aroused coach Wade Phillips. "Oooh, a double rainbow!" Cowboys 17, Bears 16. 2-0.
September 26 at Houston Texans: Former coach Jimmy Johnson begins his victorious quest on Survivor and the Cowboys remain undefeated as Dez Bryant catches his first NFL touchdown and celebrates by spiking Betty White over the goal post. Cowboys 24, Texans 20. 3-0.
October 3 Bye: With a flawless record and time to kill, the Cowboys take a field trip to the State Fair of Texas where Keith Brooking trash-talks Big Tex into 10-gallon tears and Leonard Davis sets a Guinness World Record by eating three kegs of fried beer.
October 10 vs. Tennessee Titans: In the midst of engineering a potential last-minute scoring drive, Vince Young shockingly bolts Cowboys Stadium for Northwest Highway to finish what he started with the manager of Dallas Gentlemen's Club. Cowboys 27, Titans 21. 4-0.
October 17 at Minnesota Vikings: Jared Allen turns Doug Free into Phil Pozderac, and Brett Favre—after being talked out of retirement at halftime by ESPN's Ed Werder—makes yet another comeback with three touchdown passes, including a rub-it-in score in the final seconds. Vikings 34, Cowboys 3. 4-1.
October 25 vs. New York Giants: In a dramatic, scripted, made-for-MTV ending on Monday Night Football, the Giants win when Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino—signed earlier in the week off the roster of the Arena League's Jersey Shore Douchebags—produces fourth-quarter heroics including gym-tan-laundry-mash-interception-touchdown. Giants 30, Cowboys 27. 4-2.
October 31 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: While the Texas Rangers win their first World Series game down the street, Dallas rolls to a scarily easy win on a day when Jason Witten grabs 10 passes and a spooky sellout crowd bucks the trendy vampire costumes and shows up in Tom Hicks masks. Cowboys 37, Jaguars 14. 5-2.
November 7 at Green Bay Packers: After a pre-game pep talk from Justin Bieber, the Cowboys perform like bunch of prepubescent, underdeveloped, overrated school boys. Aaron Rodgers tops Romo's three touchdowns with four of his own, prompting Free Reign to carjack Bieber behind Dallas' team bus and leave him whimpering. Packers 38, Cowboys 30. 5-3.
November 14 at New York Giants: After burning "The Situation" for two touchdown catches, Bryant successfully lobbies for Drew Pearson to enter the Ring of Honor, convinces Muslim leaders to shutter the mosque near Ground Zero and admits to being in a fight with his time-of-the-month girlfriend. Seems that on the way home he refused to pick up her pads. Cowboys 21, Giants 17. 6-3.
November 21 vs. Detroit Lions: While former Detroit receiver Roy Williams exacts revenge on his old team by dropping only two passes, pissed-off quarterback Matthew Stafford tries to camouflage a horrid performance by dissing Cowboys Stadium. Says the former Highland Park High School star, "It's OK, but it ain't shit compared to the house I grew up in." Cowboys 34, Lions 7. 7-3.
November 25 vs. New Orleans Saints: In a tense turkey-day battle for the rights to the "America's Team" moniker and the lead role in Glee, Romo outplays Drew Brees and Jones out-boogies Saints owner Tom Benson. Just for fun, punter Mat McBriar sails a kick over the Jumbo Jerry video board. Cowboys 27, Saints 24. 8-3.
December 5 at Indianapolis Colts: Free safety Alan Ball tops Ken Hamlin's interception total of 2009 with his first pick of the season, but Peyton Manning riddles Dave Campo's secondary and breaks his own NFL record by calling 103 audibles in an ugly blowout. Colts 35, Cowboys 17. 8-4.
December 12 vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Ignoring the firestorm created by TMZ's posting of bathroom photos depicting him in only a Viking helmet and Mr. Norwegian sash, Igor Olshanky records three sacks, two fumble recoveries and a beheading of Kevin Kolb. Cowboys 23, Eagles 9. 9-4.