The Redskins were equally outspoken. "We hate the Cowboys," said Diron Talbert, whose big brother Don had once played for Landry. "It's been building up, and now we finally got a team that can whip `em."
On Thursday before the game, Landry made it official. Though Morton had started all year, Staubach would be his man at RFK. "Craig got us into the playoffs, but Roger is the main reason we're in the finals," Landry said. For the Redskins there was no quarterback decision to be made. Jurgensen was still on crutches, his leg immobilized in a cast. Billy Kilmer would be in control, just as Allen wanted him to be.
Although the stadium rocked with jubilant fans, the game went scoreless until the second quarter when a Curt Knight field goal put the Redskins on the boards with 3 points. Then came a Kilmer touchdown pass to Charley Taylor, with the extra point giving Washington a 10-0 lead. The Cowboys scored 3 points that quarter when their 35-yard field goal kick hit the left upright and fell in.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Redskins still were clinging to their 10-3 lead when Kilmer decided to go after third-year Cowboy cornerback Mark Washington, playing for the injured Charley Waters. Kilmer sent Taylor deep, and by the time the ball arrived in Taylor's hands, Washington was two steps behind and diving in a desperate attempt to break up the pass. But he couldn't do it, and Taylor's 48-yard scoring catch and Knight's extra point produced a 17-3 lead.
This time there was no miracle comeback from Staubach, only three more breathe-easy field goals down the stretch by Knight. That clinched a 26-3 victory, the first NFC title for the Redskins in 30 years. Thousands of fans streamed onto the field as Allen was hoisted to his players' shoulders in a raucous celebration of the new year and of the team's first trip to the Super Bowl, against the Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins had lost the Super Bowl the previous year to the Cowboys and had vowed to return quickly. Under head coach Don Shula, the former Redskins defensive back whom many considered the finest mind in the game, they were now 16-0 and attempting to become the first team in league history to win every game played.
Like the Redskins, the Dolphins relied on a bruising running game, led by Larry Csonka, a 240-pound, smash-mouth fullback, and tailbacks Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris. They, too, had a thinking man's quarterback in Bob Griese, a future Hall of Famer, and their so-called "No Name" defense had excelled all year, even if the unit was slightly undersized compared to most.