Washington is 3-7 on Thanksgiving, including a 1-7 record against the Cowboys. This is the first time the Redskins head into a Thanksgiving Day game in first place in the NFC East since 1996. The Cowboys were nine-point favorites in that game, and covered the spread with a 21-10 win. With Colt McCoy set to make his first start since 2014 in place of the injured Alex Smith, the Cowboys are 7.5-point favorites on Thursday, the third-largest point spread in the teams' nine meetings on the holiday. (Dallas was an 11.5-point favorite in 1978.) An upset win would give Washington a two-game lead in the division and a sweep of the Cowboys in the season series. It would also mark the franchise’s first Thanksgiving winning streak.
Here’s a look back at the Redskins’ 10 Thanksgiving games and the cornucopia of feast-related headlines and ledes they spawned.
With Sonny Jurgensen sidelined by the flu, Jim Ninowski started at quarterback for the Redskins at the Cotton Bowl. Washington erased an early 17-0 deficit and took a 20-19 lead in the fourth quarter but couldn’t hold it. In one of his two starts with the Redskins, Ninowski threw for 280 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. The Cowboys improved to 10-2 with the win, while Washington fell to 4-8.
Five years later, Billy Kilmer threw two touchdowns and Curt Knight kicked two short field goals in the Redskins’ shutout of the Lions in Detroit.
“The Redskins feasted on turkeys — disguised as the offensive and defensive units of the Detroit Lions — and gobbled up a 20-0 Thanksgiving Day victory today,” The Post’s Leonard Shapiro wrote.
Dessert was a Dolphins win over the Cowboys later that day, which moved Washington (8-3) into sole possession of first place in the NFC East. Dallas would beat the Redskins at Texas Stadium two weeks later and clinch the division the following week.
What’s a surer way to ruin Thanksgiving dinner among Redskins fans than talking politics? Mention Clint Longley. The rookie quarterback out of Abilene Christian replaced an injured Roger Staubach and led the Cowboys to a stunning comeback win at Texas Stadium.
“This is the type of defeat that can stay with you for a while,” then-Redskins coach George Allen said after the loss. “It can take something out of your team if you let it.”
Dan Steinberg looked back at the classic game six years ago.
The Cowboys totaled 507 yards and took a 20-0 lead into halftime en route to handing the Redskins their biggest defeat on Thanksgiving.
“No Thanksgiving turkey ever got plucked quicker or more cleanly,” Post columnist Ken Denlinger wrote. “The Redskins were out of it against the Cowboys early in the second quarter yesterday, victims — as usual — of blockers who failed to block and tacklers who failed to tackle.”
“It’s humiliating,” Redskins defensive end Coy Bacon said. “I’ve never been beaten this bad the whole time I’ve played football. I just can’t agree with this at all. We were flat. You saw it. We had no killer instinct. We did nothing out there.”
Cowboys rookie Emmitt Smith rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns, while the Redskins managed 36 rushing yards as a team. Dallas scored the game’s final 17 points after Washington took a touchdown lead in the third quarter.
“This is a real disappointment,” Coach Joe Gibbs said, after the Redskins fell to 6-5. “We just couldn’t get it going. We’re going to have to do it the tough way now — and against teams rated a lot better than us. It’s still out there for us. We’re going to have to find out about ourselves.”
Washington won four of its final five games to make the playoffs as a wild-card team bfore losing to the 49ers in the divisional round.
Another Thanksgiving loss to the Cowboys, another big game by Smith and another stuffing pun on the Sports front. Gus Frerotte’s third-quarter touchdown pass to Leslie Shepherd gave the Redskins a 10-7 lead before Smith’s second and third rushing touchdowns of the game provided the final margin. The win pulled the Cowboys into a tie with Washington for the division lead at 8-5.
Danny Wuerffel threw three touchdowns and three interceptions for the Redskins, who dropped their sixth straight Thanksgiving Day game to the Cowboys. Smith ran for 144 yards for Dallas.
“The players and coaches change, but the hex lives on,” The Post’s Mark Maske wrote. “Coach Steve Spurrier did not hand a game ball to owner Daniel Snyder after the Washington Redskins had yet another season smashed into tiny pieces by the Dallas Cowboys, losing to their longtime rivals for the 10th consecutive time, 27-20, today at Texas Stadium.”
Making his return to the state where he played his college ball, rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III threw four touchdown passes, fellow rookie Alfred Morris rushed for 113 yards and a score, and the Redskins beat Dallas on Thanksgiving for the first time in seven tries. The win was the second in a seven-game streak to end the regular season, culminating in a win over the Cowboys in prime-time to clinch the NFC East title.
The Redskins allowed a touchdown on Dallas’s opening drive and were chasing the Cowboys all afternoon. Washington scored only two touchdowns on five trips inside the red zone and lost despite outgaining the Cowboys, 505 yards to 393. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns for Dallas, which improved to 10-1, while Kirk Cousins threw for 449 yards and three touchdowns in defeat.
“Twenty-[six] points should be enough to win in the NFL,” Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said, “but today it wasn’t against a good Cowboys offense.”
In a sloppy game that will be remembered more for the hideous condition of the turf at FedEx Field than Samaje Perine’s 100 yards rushing or even the 16 punts, Kirk Cousins threw a pair of second-half touchdown passes to help Washington keep its faint playoff hopes alive.
Ryan Kerrigan had a pair of sacks and checked an item off his bucket list by eating a turkey leg on national television after the win.
“It was damn good turkey,” Kerrigan said. “Warm, too. I thought it’d be a little colder. I didn’t know how long they had it ready. … I noticed everyone else kind of set theirs down, so I kind of felt like the idiot that was still just munching away.”
Read more on the Redskins: