My memories of “America’s Rivalry,” as co-authors Rick Snider, John Keim and Mickey Spagnola and I dubbed it in our 1997 book, go back to 1970. Here are my picks as Washington’s top five victories over Dallas. (Also, my apologies for listing yesterday’s worst loss as being played at RFK Stadium. It was in Dallas).
5. Oct. 3, 1971, Cotton Bowl, Redskins 20, Cowboys 16. The Redskins hadn’t reached postseason since 1945 when a whirlwind named George Allen arrived from Los Angeles in 1971. Allen traded for veteran after veteran and led Washington to a 5-0 start, the highlight of which was this victory in the rain. Thousands of frenzied fans greeted the Redskins when they returned to Dulles Airport that night. Redskins fever continued to build as the 9-4-1 team ended that 25-year playoff drought.
4. Oct. 19, 1987, Texas Stadium, Redskins 13, Cowboys 7. A month-long players’ strike was about to end so many Cowboys including Hall of Famers Randy White and Tony Dorsett crossed the picket line and suited up on “Monday Night Football.” But on the day the stock market crashed, so did the Cowboys. Washington’s team of street free agents, led by quarterback Tony Robinson and running back Lionel Vital, won a victory so stunning that it was made into a movie called “The Replacements.”
3. Sept. 19, 2005, Texas Stadium, Redskins 14, Cowboys 13. Washington had managed just three field goals in edging Chicago in its opener. With less than five minutes left in Dallas, the Redskins were being shut out 13-0. Coach Joe Gibbs’ ballyhooed return to the Redskins was a disaster and so was his quarterback. But Mark Brunell hit new receiver Santana Moss for touchdowns of 39 and 70 yards for a shocking 14-13 victory and propel Washington towards its first playoff spot in six years.
2. Jan. 22, 1983, RFK Stadium, Redskins 31, Cowboys 17. The young Redskins were the new kids on the block. The veteran Cowboys, in the playoffs as always, were so sure to win that Super Bowl merchandise had already been printed with their logo. But Dexter Manley knocked out Cowboys quarterback Danny White while John Riggins and the Hogs ran over the mighty Dallas defense. The Redskins pulled away en route to the Super Bowl where they would win their first title in 40 years.
1. Dec. 31, 1972, RFK Stadium, Redskins 26, Cowboys 3. Washington had lost in Texas three weeks earlier as MVP Larry Brown rested. So despite losing at RFK in October, the defending Super Bowl champions were favored. But rag-armed quarterback Billy Kilmer was on target while Washington’s defense harrassed Roger Staubach all day. Kilmer’ s second touchdown to Charley Taylor sealed the game as the Redskins cruised to their first Super Bowl. New Year’s Eve in D.C. was never so sweet.