Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect photo caption that said the Cowboys beat the Redskins in the 1972 NFC championship game. Washington won that game, 26-3. This version has been updated.
Thursday is Thanksgiving. But it is also the high point of Dallas Week! That’s because the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys in Texas in a football game televised at 4:25 on Fox Channel 5. (The two teams will play again on December 30 in Washington.)
Kids may be thinking: So what? The Redskins and Cowboys are not very good. Since the 2000 season, the Redskins and the Cowboys have each won only one playoff game.
It didn’t used to be like that. Years ago, Dallas Week was a huge deal. Ask your Redskins-rooting or Cowboys-loving relatives as you are sitting around the holiday table about their favorite Dallas Week memories. There have been lots of them.
The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry really heated up when George Allen — the father of Bruce Allen, the team’s current general manager — became the Washington coach in 1971. Before that, the Redskins were not very good. The Cowboys, on the other hand, were so good they were in the playoffs year after year.
Coach Allen took the Dallas games very seriously. There’s a story that he karate-chopped boards in half to get his team fired up for a Cowboys game.
I guess it worked. In 1972, the Redskins beat the Cowboys, 26-3, on New Year’s Eve in the National Football Conference championship, to earn their first Super Bowl appearance. That day, the Redskins fans roared so loud that they shook RFK Stadium. (Two weeks later, the Redskins lost Super Bowl VII to the Miami Dolphins.)
Dallas got some revenge two years later, in an unforgettable Thanksgiving Day game. The Redskins thought they had the game won when the def ense knocked the Cowboys’ star quarterback, Roger Staubach, out of the game.
Surprise! Staubach’s unknown backup, Clint Longley, threw two second-half touchdown passes, including a last-minute 50-yarder, to shock the Redskins, 24-23. Some Washington fans still get mad when they think of that game . . . and Clint Longley.
The bitter rivalry continued during the 1980s and 1990s, when the Redskins and Cowboys had some terrific teams. From the 1982 to 1995 seasons, the Redskins and Cowboys went to the Super Bowl seven times, with each winning three NFL championships.
Now, the Redskins and Cowboys aren’t playing for Super Bowls. They are playing to see which team can grab second place in the NFC’s East Division. But almost every game in this rivalry is exciting. The Redskins have lost the past three games by a total of eight points, including a 27-24 heartbreaker last November in overtime.
So, enjoy Thanksgiving. But remember: For Redskins fans, Dallas Week is another tradition to celebrate.