Installed as a one-point favorite, the Redskins lost that game on a touchdown pass from 41-year-old Vinny Testaverde to rookie Patrick Crayton in the final minute. It marked Washington’s fifth consecutive defeat as the road favorite against the Cowboys dating from 1992, a simultaneously shocking and not-at-all-surprising streak. The last time the Redskins beat an underdog Cowboys team on the road was in Week 2 of their 1991 Super Bowl season.
Put simply, the role of road favorite against their biggest rival has suited the Redskins about as well as mustard yellow color rush uniforms. The Ezekiel Elliott-less Cowboys opened as slight favorites for Thursday’s game, but the line has swung in favor of the Redskins, the team that hasn’t been limited to single-digit points in three consecutive games. As of Thursday morning, Dallas was a 1.5-point underdog most places.
According to Pro Football Reference, which has point spread data going back to 1978, the Redskins have been favored on the road against the Cowboys 10 previous times over the past 40 seasons. Washington is 3-7 in those games. The Redskins’ five-game losing streak as the road favorite at Dallas includes a 16-point loss as a 5.5-point favorite in 1998 and a 19-point loss as a 5.5-point favorite two years later. The Redskins are 25-19 against every other team as a road favorite since their last Super Bowl win, which isn’t great, but still a whole lot better than 0-5. Washington is 10-12 as a home favorite against the Cowboys since 1978 and 9-19 as a road underdog against Dallas during that span.
And what about the Cowboys’ other NFC East foes? Have they similarly struggled as road favorites in Big D? Not exactly. Philadelphia is 11-1 straight up as a road favorite against the Cowboys since 1978, and the Eagles have been favored six times at Dallas since the start of the 2005 season. The Giants have only been a road favorite against the Cowboys one time since 2002, but they’re 6-4 in that position over the past 40 seasons.
Speaking of the Giants, the Redskins haven’t been road favorites at New York since Week 2 of the 2004 season. That streak figures to end on New Year’s Eve in the regular season finale at MetLife Stadium. Washington has been a road favorite against Philadelphia three times since 2005.
Here’s a closer look at the Redskins’ five-game losing streak as the road favorite against the Cowboys:
Dec. 26, 2004
Line: Redskins -1 | Score: Cowboys, 13-10
Patrick Crayton got behind Redskins rookie safety Sean Taylor for the first touchdown of his career, a 39-yard strike from Vinny Testaverde with 30 seconds remaining to lift Dallas to its 14th win in 15 games against Washington.
“I saw No. 36 [Taylor] cheating inside,” Testaverde said. “And I gave him an extra long look.”
The Redskins got across midfield on their final possession, but Jeff Chandler’s 57-yard field goal attempt to send the game to overtime fell short.
Nov. 28, 2002
Line: Redskins -1.5 | Score: Cowboys, 27-20
Danny Wuerffel threw three touchdowns and three interceptions for the Redskins, who dropped their sixth straight Thanksgiving Day game to the Cowboys. Emmitt Smith ran for 144 yards for Dallas.
“You don’t have to worry about any game balls on this side,” Coach Steve Spurrier said after the Redskins lost their 10th straight to the Cowboys. “They kicked our butts. … I told [Redskins owner Daniel Snyder], ‘Sorry we’re not good enough to beat them right now.’ … We would have loved to have come here and broken that streak they have against us, but we weren’t good enough.”
Dec. 10, 2000
Line: Redskins -5.5 | Score: Cowboys, 32-13
Terry Robiskie’s first game as interim coach in place of the fired Norv Turner and Jeff George’s first game as the starting quarterback in place of the struggling Brad Johnson did not go well. George was sacked five times, and Washington lost for the fifth time in six games to fall to 7-7.
“I told our guys it would be a war,” Robiskie said. “I don’t know what happened. We just didn’t fight. As the game wore on, our defense wore out. … Some of the things we did on the field were like a high school team. And for me, it was an embarrassment.”
Troy Aikman left the game with a concussion after taking a hit from LaVar Arrington in the first quarter. With backup Randall Cunningham also hurt, Anthony Wright came on in relief. The rookie completed only three passes for 73 yards, but Emmitt Smith’s 150 yards on the ground provided more than enough offense for the Cowboys.
Dec. 27, 1998
Line: Redskins -5.5 | Score: Cowboys, 23-7
The Redskins were 6-9 and the Cowboys 9-6 entering the game, but Washington had won four straight and Dallas had nothing to play for, which helps explain the line.
The Cowboys built a 20-7 halftime lead before Coach Chan Gailey removed his starters to rest up ahead of Dallas’s playoff game against the Cardinals.
“We made some mistakes, and it cost us,” Redskins wide receiver Leslie Shepherd said. “People said [the Cowboys] didn’t have much to play for, but they came out and played physical.”
Sept. 27, 1992
Line: Redskins -2 | Score: Cowboys, 23-10
The Redskins began their Super Bowl defense with a dud of a performance on “Monday Night Football.” Emmitt Smith rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown, and the Cowboys limited Washington to 75 yards rushing. Dallas ended the Redskins’ first drive by blocking Kelly Goodburn’s punt in the end zone for a safety and never looked back.
“I think you have to say it was a heck of a job on their part,” Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said. “I think they did a great job all the way across the board. That’s all there is to it. You just have to brag on them. We knew it was going to be a very emotional game. It was that way last year. We were down early and got turned around. Tonight we couldn’t.”
The other five times Washington was a favorite at Dallas since 1978:
Sept. 9, 1991
Line: Redskins -2 | Score: Redskins, 33-31
Nov. 22, 1990
Line: Redskins -1.5 | Score: Cowboys, 27-17
Sept. 24, 1989
Line: Redskins -6 | Score: Redskins, 30-7
Oct. 9, 1988
Line: Redskins -1.5 | Score: Redskins, 35-17
Sept. 9, 1985
Line: Redskins -1 | Score: Cowboys, 44-14
Thanks to @DCBarno.
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