Redskins Mania Makes a Comeback

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 19, 2005

It was a blowout, an unbelievable blowout. And for fans who watched their Redskins annihilate the Dallas Cowboys yesterday, disbelief gave way to elation as Washington quickly and decisively pummeled its arch rival, 35-7. The victory, by the largest margin ever over the Cowboys, kept the Redskins' postseason hopes alive.

On the Cowboys' very first play from scrimmage, quarterback Drew Bledsoe's pass was tipped by Phillip Daniels and intercepted by Cornelius Griffin. There was no letup. Redskins tight end Chris Cooley caught three of quarterback Mark Brunell's four touchdown passes. Clinton Portis ran for 112 yards. Daniels finished with four sacks and a fumble recovery. The score was 28-0 at halftime.

The victory, arguably the Redskins' biggest ever at FedEx Field, keeps them in contention for a playoff berth as a wild card entry. To a degree, the team's fortunes depend on the outcome of games against the New York Giants on Saturday at FedEx Field and the Philadelphia Eagles in the season finale on New Year's Day. It would be the Redskins' first postseason appearance since 1999.

"This is just wonderful, even better than Redskins victories over the Cowboys in the past," said Jeanne O'Neill, who should know: She has been coming to Redskins games since 1947.

"I love [Coach] Joe Gibbs, and the defense did a superb job," said O'Neill, 86, of Alexandria. "My boys did it!"

As O'Neill and other longtime fans well remember, contests between the two NFC East foes have produced some of the great moments in NFL history.

It was in 1971 that Dallas came to town, led by a Naval Academy grad who had been riding the bench behind quarterback Craig Morton when the season opened. Future Hall-of-Famer Roger Staubach led the Cowboys to a 13-0 victory over the Redskins at RFK that day, on the way to the team's first Super Bowl victory.

There was the Redskins' Monday night victory over the Cowboys in 1973, and Cowboys rookie quarterback Clint Longley throwing a 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson on Thanksgiving Day in 1974; like a Clint Eastwood gunslinger, Longley rode off into the sunset after that one miracle pass.

There was the Redskins NFC championship game in 1982, a 31-17 victory over the Cowboys, and the team's 1991 come-from-behind win in Texas Stadium.

"America's team" meant legendary Coach Tom Landry and his successor Jimmy Johnson, quarterbacks Staubach, Danny White and Troy Aikman, as well as such electrifying receivers as "Bullet" Bob Hayes, Pearson and Michael Irvin.

The Redskins, of course, had their own big names, starting with a young coach named Joe Gibbs and including running back John Riggins, quarterback Joe Theismann, receiver Charley Taylor and defensive back Darrell Green, to name a few.

From the early 1970s until the 1990s, both teams were perennial Super Bowl contenders.

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