Once the NFL’s most intense rivalry, Cowboys-Redskins had fallen on hard, lame times. They played for nothing more than bragging rights, while Dallas’ matchups with NFC East foes New York and Philadelphia leap-frogged Washington in importance.
But where in 1972 there was George Allen, in 2012 there entered Robert Griffin III.
The ol' antagonist Allen used to try to rile up the unflappable Tom Landry by declaring the days before a Cowboys-Redskins game "Dallas Week." Back then, it barely raised an eyebrow, much less the blood pressure, as Dallas routinely had loftier goals than simply dispatching of a finger-licking, hand-clapping coach hopped up on the early ancestors of Red Bull.
RG3, the Baylor Heisman winner, didn’t much trash-talk the Cowboys as a rookie, but he did beat them twice while re-booting the rivalry.
When the teams meet Sunday night in Arlington the early lead in the NFC East will be on the line, as well as some revenge for last year’s costly sweep at the hands of the Redskins. RG3 embarrassed Dallas on Thanksgiving with four touchdown passes, and then Tony Romo committed a late gaffe in a 10-point loss for the division championship on Dec. 30.
With the Eagles ho-hum and the Giants 0-5, the Redskins are again Dallas’ biggest rival in the division. The game hasn’t exactly returned to its glory days, but it’s escalating.
I covered several Cowboys' games in D.C., where old RFK Stadium would shake, and attended some Redskins' games at Texas Stadium where Cowboys' fans were actually awake, and somewhat aroused. Dallas has a 62-42 series edge, including its lone win during a 1-15 nightmare in '89.
My Top 10 Most Memorable Cowboys-Redskins Games:
10. At Redskins 28, Cowboys 18. 12.30.12 - With the NFC East title on the line, his team trailing by only three points and three minutes remaining, Tony Romo makes a horrible decision and even worse throw that results in linebacker Rob Jackson’s game-ending interception.
9. Redskins 14, at Cowboys 13. 9.19.05 - On a night supposedly belonging to the induction of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin into the Ring of Honor, Santana Moss poops the party with two long touchdown catches in the final four minutes.
8. Redskins 31, at Cowboys 10. 12.11.83 - In a showdown of 12-2 powers, the Cowboys trail 14-10 in the fourth quarter when Danny White audibles to a handoff that is snuffed on a key fourth down. On the sideline CBS cameras catches coach Tom Landry wincing "No Danny! No!"
7. At Redskins 14, Cowboys 7. 10.8.73 - In an epic struggle that seems to go on for minutes, Washington safety Ken Houston finally wrestles Walt Garrison down at the 1-yard line as time expires on Monday Night Football.
6. Cowboys 31, at Redskins 30. 9.5.83 - Danny White rallies Dallas from a 23-3 halftime deficit with four second-half touchdown passes on Monday Night Football.
5. At Redskins 22, Cowboys 19. 11.5.06 - After Washington's Nick Novak misses a 48-yard field goal in the final minute, Dallas drives for a game-winning 35-yard attempt by Mike Vanderjagt. But the kick is blocked and returned by Sean Taylor, who is brought down by Kyle Kosier with the help of a facemask penalty. Novak re-enters and nails a 47-yarder on the game's final play.
4. Redskins 13, at Cowboys 7. 10.19.87 - Washington's team of picket-line crossing "scab" players shock a team of Cowboys led by Danny White, Tony Dorsett, Too Tall Jones and Randy White in a game that spawned the movie, The Replacements.
3. Cowboys 41, at Redskins 35. 9.12.99 - After trailing 35-14, Dallas wins a dramatic season-opener in overtime on Troy Aikman's 76-yard touchdown pass to Rocket Ismail.
2. At Cowboys 24, Redskins 23. 11.28.74 - Trailing 16-3 and with Roger Staubach knocked out of the game with a concussion, unknown backup Clint Longley authors an improbable Thanksgiving miracle with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson with 28 seconds remaining.
1. At Cowboys 35, Redskins 34. 12.16.79 - In Roger Staubach's final colossal comeback he rallies Dallas from a 34-21 deficit in the last two minutes, capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass to Tony Hill that clinches the NFC East. After the game Dallas defensive end Harvey Martin tosses a funeral wreath into Washington's somber locker room.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.