- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Denise Vincent draped herself in an old Washington Redskins’ Dana Stubblefield jersey and walked through the District with her head held high yesterday.

After all, Miss Vincent, 25, couldn’t pass up a chance to celebrate the Redskins’ thrilling comeback win against their heated rival, the Dallas Cowboys, on Monday night. She said it’s been a long time since her favorite team was worth bragging about — particularly after playing the Cowboys.

“The curse has been reversed,” said Miss Vincent, referring to the Redskins’ recent ineptitude against Dallas, who had won 14 of the past 15 meetings before Monday night. “It feels good. You’re not even tired the next day, even though you stayed up late to watch the game.”

Call it fan euphoria.

Washington woke up awash in burgundy and gold yesterday, as excited, sleep-deprived football fans donned old jerseys and slapped high-fives the day after the Redskins broke the Cowboys curse at Texas Stadium.

Washington scored two touchdowns in the last four minutes to defeat Dallas 14-13 — the first win in the past four games against the Cowboys and the first win in Dallas since 1995.

Former Redskins great Brian Mitchell knows the magnitude of the Washington-Dallas games in this region. He played for Washington from 1990 to 1999.

“It goes beyond wins and losses,” said the former running back and kick-return specialist for Washington. “It goes back a long time, even before the Redskins and the Cowboys. The cowboys and the Indians were going against each other, and then there’s Washington and Dallas. … The two owners aren’t going to let the rivalry die and the players just have to realize that.”

At the ESPN Zone in Northwest yesterday, Ronnie Finch of the District beamed with pride about the Redskins’ performance, briefly commandeering the front door of the establishment to give an impromptu critique of Monday night’s game.

“The offense looked bad, and we still won,” said Mr. Finch, decked out in a Redskins hat and jersey. “The die-hard Cowboys fans? They’re nowhere to be found. If we had lost, we’d hear about it all day long [from Cowboys fans].”

Some fans were riding so high by the end of the game that they had trouble falling asleep.

“I was through a range of emotions during the game, like the stages of emotions you go through when someone dies,” said John Danielsen, 24, a litigation analyst from Vienna, Va. “I went through all that, and then they won.”

To calm down, Mr. Danielsen said he stayed up and watched the post-game show even though he had to get up at 4:30 a.m. to go to work. “I had to watch a half-hour of post-game show just to help myself wind down,” he said.

The atmosphere in the District was so euphoric that even a workplace expert told WMAL Radio yesterday that employers should give their employees more time to do their jobs a day after such a big game.

While most fans chose to revel in the glow of beating Dallas, the stirring comeback victory and 2-0 start has some predicting playoffs.

“I thought it was going to be another tick on Dallas’ 10-year streak, but here we are,” said Army Intelligence Specialist Chief Michael Rice of Chevy Chase. “I know that they will make the playoffs this year, I just have this feeling.”

Mr. Rice, 39, said he was screaming at the top of his lungs as he watched the game on his television. “My wife was upstairs trying to sleep and I was screaming and yelling,” he said. “I was very surprised, very euphoric.”

George Thomas, 50, a Redskins’ fan for the last 30 years, said he was equally optimistic about the playoff chances, but stopped short of predicting the team’s success beyond that point.

“Super Bowl? I don’t know about that,” Mr. Thomas said as he entered Metro Center in a Clinton Portis jersey. “But they’ll make the playoffs. They looked good, and I loved every minute of it.”

Despite its recent lopsidedness, the historic rivalry is so heated and bitter that a win against Dallas is as good as any playoff victory, said Anthony Waller of the District.

“It was about time,” said Mr. Waller, 36, a deliveryman. “That was the Super Bowl right there, it felt just as good. They can lose every other game, as long as they beat the Cowboys.”

Mr. Waller also thinks the Redskins are playoff-bound. “If they can beat the Cowboys, they can make the playoffs,” he said. “They’ve got a fairly easy schedule.”

But for some, the euphoria is tempered with years of heartbreak and mediocrity.

“We embarrassed them at home, and that was good,” said Aaron Magette, 28, of the District. “But I’m a realist. The one thing we’re missing is a quarterback. We can’t score points. The defense looks good, but they’re going to get tired sooner or later.”

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