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Redskins-Cowboys: What's Your Favorite Memory?

By Dan Hargett
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Web Posted: Thursday, Nov. 22, 2002; 12:26 p.m. EST

Passion. Hatred. Wonder. Heartache. The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry has inspired them all over the past four decades. The memories are countless and priceless. While the rivalry has waned in recent years as the Cowboys have won nine in a row, the fuse is always ready to ignite when these two teams get together. Take a nostalgic look back at 10 fierce and memorable battles. Then, vote for your favorite.

A Rocket Burns the Redskins
A Vanquishing Act
Captain Comeback
Petitbon's Shining Moment
Emmitt Drops the Ball
Monday Night Collapse
Theismann's Mad Dash
The Mad Bomber Strikes
Power and Glory
Two Minutes of Hell

  View results

 A virtually uncovered Raghib Ismail scores on a 76-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Troy Aikman to win the game for the Cowboys in overtime. (AP)
Sept. 12, 1999
at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium
L, 41-35 (OT)
The Dan Snyder era in Washington began with a dull thud on opening day in 1999 as the Redskins suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Cowboys. The Redskins, with newly acquired quarterback Brad Johnson starting his first game in D.C., powered the home team to what appeared to be an insurmountable 35-14 lead heading into the final quarter. But the Redskins suffered a fourth-quarter collapse of appalling proportions as the Cowboys scored 21 fourth-quarter points to send the game into overtime, where Rocket Ismail broke the Redskins' backs, and hearts, with a 76-yard touchdown reception just four minutes into the extra session.

Dec. 16, 1979
At Texas Stadium
L, 35-34
The Redskins fell victim to another stunning Cowboys fourth-quarter rally on the final day of the regular season as the visitors watched their division title and playoff hopes crash amid one of quarterback Roger Staubach's trademark comebacks. The Redskins wasted a 13-point, fourth quarter lead and a 151-yard, two-touchdown effort from John Riggins as the Cowboys scored two touchdowns in the final 140 seconds to stun the Redskins. To add insult to injury, the Bears snatched the final wild-card berth away from the Redskins with a 36-point win over the Cardinals. Dallas defensive tackle Harvey Martin tossed a funeral wreath in Washington's dressing room following the crushing victory.

Dec. 13, 1992
At RFK Stadium
W, 20-17
In one of the more bizarre ending to ever occur at RFK Stadium, in a game that coach Joe Gibbs said he would always remember, the Redskins snatched a victory over the Cowboys thanks to an inexplicable mistake by running back Emmitt Smith. The Redskins were down by four points when quarterback Troy Aikman was hit in the end zone as he began his throwing motion. The ball squirted free and Smith picked up the ball, but for some reason tried to throw the ball out of the end zone. He failed and safety Danny Copeland scooped up the ball for the winning touchdown that would send Cowboys' coach Jimmie Johnson sprinting after the officials after the final gun.

Oct. 2, 1978
At RFK Stadium
W, 9-5
The Redskins employed their own version of the Doomsday Defense on a memorable Monday night against the league's top offense with President Jimmy Carter in attendance. Kicker Mark Moseley provided the offense but the night belonged to Ken Houston, Brad Dusek and the Redskins' defense, which stifled the league's top-ranked offense time and time again. The night's most significant and memorable sequence came on the final play, when quarterback Joe Theismann ran out the clock and out of the back of his end zone while holding the ball aloft for a safety as the home team remained unbeaten at 5-0 in a season marked by a precipitous year-end collapse.

Jan. 22, 1983
NFC Championship Game at RFK Stadium
W, 31-17
In what is arguably the greatest contest in the long and storied history of the Washington Redskins, a host of heroes propel the Redskins into Super Bowl XVII. Indelible images were burned into team history that frigid afternoon, from the rabid chants of "We Want Dallas" that literally shook RFK Stadium to its core to the violent collision precipitated by Dexter Manley that sent Cowboys' quarterback Danny White to the showers to mountainous defensive tackle Daryl Grant's interception of a Gary Hogeboom pass tipped by Manley to score the decisive points. John Riggins pulverized Dallas for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries to lead the Redskins to a sizzling and memorable triumph.

Dec. 31, 1972
NFC Championship Game at RFK Stadium
W, 26-3
"Just remember this. Forty men together can't lose." Those words, delivered by Redskins' coach George Allen before the 1972 NFC Championship game, provided the necessary inspiration to lead the Redskins into their first Super Bowl appearance and their first taste of glory since the 1940s. It took the Cowboys 24 minutes to record a first down on a day that belonged to the Redskins, although the game was still much in doubt entering the fourth quarter. Nursing a 10-3 lead, quarterback Billy Kilmer hit Hall-of-Fame receiver Charley Taylor with a memorable 45-yard touchdown strike on the period's first play that drew the curtains on the Cowboys and sealed a win that ended with Allen being carried off the field as the Redskins won their first championship of any kind in 30 years.

 Just about the only highlight of the Richie Petitbon era was a 35-16 victory over the Emmitt-less Cowboys. (Post File Photo)
Sept. 6, 1993
At RFK Stadium
W, 35-16
The Richie Petitbon era got off to an auspicious start on "Monday Night Football" as the Redskins enjoyed a moment of joyous optimism in their season-opener that would soon prove to be a stark contrast to the bitter journey the season would become. With Cowboys' running back Emmitt Smith home in Florida embroiled in a contract dispute, the Redskins would take advantage. Quarterback Mark Rypien, playing his final season in D.C., tossed three touchdown passes. Current Philadelphia Eagle Brian Mitchell rushed for 116 yards on 21 carries. Veteran receiver Art Monk got into the fray with a touchdown catch. Unfortunately, this was as good as it would get for Petitbon, who would be fired at the end of a 3-13 season.

Sept. 5, 1983
At RFK Stadium
L, 31-30
A game so memorable that it has been selected one of five finalists for the greatest Monday night game, the Redskins blow a 23-3 halftime lead and fall in their season-opener, their first game since beating the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII. Never has a Redskin team been so superior in one half and so god awful in the other. Quarterback Joe Theismannn was masterful, going 28-of-38 for 325 yards and two touchdowns and the Redskins dominated time of possession by 14 minutes. Although the defeat was a bitter pill to swallow, it did announce the arrival of future Hall-of-Famer Darrell Green, who raced by two teammates to chase down Cowboys' running back Tony Dorsett four yards shy of the goal line in the first half.

Nov. 28, 1974
Thanksgiving Day at Texas Stadium
L, 24-23
Remember the Mad Bomber? The events that transpired during the final minute of this Thanksgiving Day epic will live in infamy for those who witnessed it. The Redskins were 35 seconds away from clinching a playoff berth when a rookie quarterback -- Clint Longley -- tossed an improbable 50-yard touchdown to Drew Pearson to give the Cowboys a shocking last-second victory. Washington did nearly everything imaginable to pull out this game, including forcing five turnovers and knocking starting quarterback Roger Staubach out of the game. But a blocked field goal and their inability to stop a neophyte quarterback making his first regular-season appearance still has Redskins' fans scratching their collective heads 28 years later.

Nov. 16, 1997
At Texas Stadium
L, 17-14
The Redskins were in total control for the first 55 minutes of a game they absolutely had to win when the Cowboys jump-started another miraculous comeback. With Dallas backed up on their 3-yard line with 5:48 left, quarterback Troy Aikman engineered a 97-yard touchdown drive, plus a two-point conversion, to pull the Cowboys even at 14-14. A devastating three-and-out on the Redskins' next possession precipitated a dismal 28-yard punt by Matt Turk, which gave the Cowboys prime field position. Twenty-eight yards later, Richie Cunningham booted a 42-yard field goal with four seconds remaining to give the Cowboys another unlikely win. The loss was symbolic of the maddening disasters that befell the Redskins during the Norv Turner era, and they would finish out of the playoffs once again that season.


Note: This is an unscientific survey of washingtonpost.com readers.

© Copyright 2002 washingtonpost.com

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