Washington’s return to the NFL equator would have been difficult to imagine Dec. 13, 1992, when the Redskins rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat the Cowboys, 20-17, before a bouncing, sold-out crowd at RFK Stadium. The win improved the defending Super Bowl champions to 9-5, putting them in strong position to clinch a third consecutive playoff berth over the season’s final two weeks. The victory also pushed the Redskins a franchise-best 76 games above .500 at 425-349-26.
“It was one of the hardest-fought games I’ve ever been in,” Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said after Danny Copeland’s fumble recovery in the end zone with 3:14 remaining put Washington ahead for good. “Everyone laid it on the line out there. This was one of the most emotional games I’ve been in, and it’s one I’ll always remember. There was a lot of great plays back and forth. This was two great teams and had everything wrapped into it.”
No one knew it at the time, but the game would mark a turning point for two NFC East rivals headed in opposite directions. Washington lost its final two games of the 1992 season, although the Redskins backed into the playoffs anyway. Dallas rebounded to win its final two games to finish 13-3, and it went on to win its first of three Super Bowls over the next four seasons.
The Cowboys are 46 games above .500 since their loss in D.C. in December 1992, and they are an NFC East-best 132 games above .500 all time. Washington is 76 games below .500 since that win over Dallas. The Redskins have lost 51 games more than they’ve won since Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999, and they were 35 games under .500 during Bruce Allen’s 10 full seasons with the organization.
The last time the Redskins had a cumulative record below .500, which they’ll look to avoid in next year’s season opener, was after a 13-10 loss to the Houston Oilers on Oct. 19, 1975. The Redskins still boast a better all-time mark than the division rival Philadelphia Eagles, who are an NFC East-best 48 games above .500 since the start of the 1993 season but 22 games below .500 (586-608-26) since the team was established in 1933. The Giants are 88 games above .500 (696-608-33) all time but three games under .500 since the start of the 1993 season.
The Green Bay Packers overtook the Chicago Bears this season as the NFL team with the best record, and they will enter the offseason 182 games above .500. The Arizona Cardinals are an NFL-worst 205 games below .500 over 100 seasons, including the franchise’s days in Chicago and St. Louis.
Since the Redskins began their slide in earnest with a 4-12 season in 1993 under Richie Petitbon, no team is more games above .500 than the New England Patriots, who have won 160 more games than they’ve lost and captured six Super Bowl titles during that time.
The Patriots and Redskins are two of nine NFL teams to win at least three Super Bowls, and Washington is now the only member of the club without an all-time record above .500. Led by the Packers, the other eight teams with at least three Super Bowl titles will enter the 2020 season an average of 99 games above .500.
Here’s a closer look at the Redskins’ roller-coaster ride back to .500:
Oct. 2, 1932: Franchise loses first game
Coach Lud Wray’s Braves were shut out in the franchise’s first game in Boston. The Braves beat the New York Giants, 14-6, a week later but never got above .500 in their inaugural season, finishing 4-4-2.
Oct. 8, 1933: First winning record
After opening the season 1-1-1, the renamed Boston Redskins beat the New York Giants, 21-20, in Week 4 to go above .500 for the first time.
Sept. 16, 1937: First game in D.C.
The Redskins relocated to D.C. in 1937 and arrived in the nation’s capital with a 24-28-5 record. They went 8-3 in 1937 under Coach Ray Flaherty and defeated the Bears in the NFL championship game. Washington finished the season one game above .500 all time.
Oct. 20, 1946: Turning point
The Redskins’ 1946 season began with great promise, a 3-0-1 start that moved Washington 42 cumulative games above .500. The Redskins would finish 5-5-1 under Coach Turk Edwards and miss the playoffs for the first of 25 consecutive seasons.
Oct. 8, 1961: Wrong side of .500
A 1-9-2 record in 1960 left the Redskins three games above .500. They dipped below that mark with a 31-7 loss at Cleveland in Week 4 of the following year. Washington started its worst season in franchise history 0-12-1 before knocking off the Cowboys in the meaningless regular season finale.
Dec. 6, 1970: A new low
The Redskins’ descent continued during the 1960s and reached its nadir — 29 games below .500 — in Week 12 of the 1970 season with a 34-0 loss to the Cowboys.
Dec. 21, 1975: Exactly .500
Washington began its climb back toward .500 and respectability under Coach George Allen, who guided the Redskins to four straight playoff berths and a Super Bowl appearance from 1971 to 1974. Washington failed to qualify for the postseason in 1975, when a loss to the Eagles in the season finale dropped the Redskins to 8-6 and exactly .500 all time.
Jan. 2, 1983: Super Bowl season
Washington went 8-1 in Gibbs’s second year at the helm, which moved the Redskins 17 games above .500 and culminated in the franchise’s first Super Bowl title.
Dec. 26, 1987: Another Super Bowl season
Doug Williams rallied the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the regular season finale at Minnesota to help Washington finish 11-4 and improve to 54 games over .500, a new franchise high. A month later, Williams was named MVP of Super Bowl XXII.
Dec. 13, 1992: The peak
The Redskins went 14-2 en route to winning a third Super Bowl title during the 1991 season, and they entered the 1992 campaign 72 games over .500. The peak — 76 games over .500 — occurred after a comeback win over the Cowboys at RFK Stadium.
Sept. 12, 1999: Daniel Snyder’s first game
An overtime loss to the Cowboys in Snyder’s first game as owner dropped the Redskins to 50 games above .500. Washington finished the season 10-6.
Dec. 30, 2012: NFC East champions
Washington won seven straight games to end the regular season in Robert Griffin III’s rookie year. The Redskins clinched the division title in Week 17 with a win over the Cowboys that pushed them 29 games above .500.
Dec. 30, 2018: Approaching single digits
A second straight 7-9 season under Coach Jay Gruden left the Redskins 10 games above .500 entering 2019.
Nov. 24, 2019: Staving off .500
A 19-16 win over the Detroit Lions snapped a four-game losing streak and improved the Redskins to three games above .500 all time. Another win the following week at Carolina meant Washington could avoid hitting the .500 mark until at least 2020 with a win or tie in its final four games. Instead, the Redskins finished the season with four straight losses.
Read more on the Redskins: