So cue the footage of George Allen mocking Tom Landry; Diron Talbert inciting Roger Staubach; Darrell Green chasing down Tony Dorsett; and LaVar Arrington ending Troy Aikman’s career.
“This game is going to be unbelievable,” said Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, who has played the Cowboys 13 times in nine seasons. “This is what should be one of the best rivalries in all of football, one of the top two or three games in all of football . . . but it hasn’t been Redskins-Cowboys where we both have great teams.”
In 2005, during his second season in the NFL, Cooley had the signature game of his career against the Cowboys in Week 15, when both teams arrived at FedEx Field with 7-6 records, chasing the New York Giants for the division lead.
By the time Cooley caught his third touchdown of the afternoon, the Redskins were well on their way to a 35-7 triumph and the third of five consecutive wins to close the season. Washington finished 10-6 by beating the Giants on Christmas Eve and the Philadelphia Eagles the following Sunday to secure a wild-card berth, while the Cowboys dropped two of three to miss the playoffs.
“That run we were on was fun, and it was awesome to come to work,” Cooley said. “And that’s what it’s like right now. It’s the same feeling.”
The Redskins own the longest winning streak in the NFC after Sunday’s 27-20 victory over the Eagles that included the return of Robert Griffin III. The rookie quarterback missed one game with a sprained right knee and watched from the sideline as backup Kirk Cousins directed a 38-21 win against the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 16.
When the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry was at its most contentious during the 1970s, Allen’s defensive charges often found themselves chasing the elusive Staubach the way defenders have been scurrying after Griffin this year.
Talbert also was particularly accomplished at needling the 1963 Heisman Trophy winner from Navy, frequently telling reporters that the best way to beat the Cowboys was to injure Staubach. The relationship between the players grew so hostile that they refused to shake hands during pregame coin flips, instead trading verbal barbs on the field.
Talbert never let Staubach or the Cowboys forget a 26-3 dismantling at the hands of the Redskins in the 1972 NFC championship game at RFK Stadium, when Allen famously inspired his team before the game by saying: “Just remember, 40 men together can’t lose.”
“First of all, this rivalry [began] long before him and long before me,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said last month, referring to his friendly relationship with Redskins counterpart Dan Snyder. “Secondly, it’s bigger than both of us put together. So having said all that, I just want to figure out a way for the Cowboys to beat the Redskins. Of course if it were the Giants or the Eagles, those are big too, but this Redskins thing is something that’s got more stories, and so storied.”