JACKSONVILLE – The Dallas Cowboys made their first and only previous appearance in Jacksonville on Opening Day in 2006.
The Cowboys narrowly missed the playoffs in 2005 at 9-7 in their second season under Head Coach Bill Parcells while the Jaguars hoped to build on an 11-5 season in 2005 and go further than the Wild Card round.
The Week 1 2006 matchup was tied 10-10 at halftime with neither team looking like a contender.
Nothing changed in the third quarter, with a pass interference penalty on Cowboys tight end Jason Witten nullifying his touchdown reception. Dallas settled for a field-goal attempt, but kicker Shaun Suisham's effort hit the right upright and a long drive came up empty.
Bryon Leftwich got things going on the opening drive of the fourth quarter. The Jaguars quarterback found rangy wide receiver Matt Jones on consecutive passes for 25, 22 and 14 yards. It suddenly looked like one team might finally make its move.
Jaguars running back Fred Taylor took the next snap for a nine-yard gain then followed that with a two-yard run for first and goal at the Dallas three-yard line. Three plays later Leftwich took it in himself, not something he was prone to do, and the Jaguars led 17-10.
The Jaguars added to the lead after linebacker Nick Griesen intercepted a pass from quarterback Drew Bledsoe intended for wide receiver Terry Glenn to give the Jaguars possession at the Dallas 40. It felt like the chance to land a knockout blow and Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio used a time out to make sure everyone was on the same page.
Leftwich found wide receiver Reggie Williams down the sideline for 15 yards, then found wide receiver Ernest Wilford down the other for 13 more. Taylor extended the Jaguars' lead two plays later with a five-yard touchdown run.
Bledsoe on the first play of the ensuing drive found Glenn for 51 yards to set up a 21-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Terrell Owens a few plays later. The Jaguars went three and out on their next drive, giving the Cowboys possession with :51 seconds remaining.
The officials gave the Cowboys another chance when they ruled Jaguars cornerback Brian Williams' interception on the first play of the series incomplete. Two plays later, Jaguars linebacker Mike Peterson ended the game when he stepped in front of a pass intended for Witten, ensuring Opening Day was a success for the Jaguars and securing a 24-17 win over the Cowboys.