It's Dallas Week. It used to be that nothing else mattered to players, coaches and fans alike. Losing seasons have been forgotten because the Redskins beat the hated Cowboys. In seasons that the Redskins swept the Cowboys, all was right in the world. Some would even stand for a two-win season as long as those wins were against the self-proclaimed America's Team.
It all started on October 9th, 1960, when the Redskins and Cowboys squared off in their first of eighty-seven matchups. That game, played in Washington's Griffith Stadium, featured a Redskins team that wasn't expect to win any games that season. While they didn't know it then, this game set the standard for all the games that followed. The underdog Redskins dominated the heavily favored Cowboys and won the inaugural game, 26-14. Then there was the October 8th, 1973, tilt between the teams that by that time were firmly entrenched in this rivalry. In that game, the Redskins were victorious 14-7 with the highlight of the game being Ken Houston's stopping Cowboys Walt Garrison at the goal line late in the game to preserve the victory.
There are always games that are described as ones that "the records can be thrown out the window when the teams meet". The Redskins and Cowboys are such a matchup. These two NFL heavyweights have met an astounding eighty-seven times with the Cowboys holding a sizable advantage, 51-34-2. The Cowboys have dominated the Redskins as of late, dropping only one game to the Redskins (in 2002) since 1997. These storied franchises have combined to win 8 Super Bowls and 31 NFC East titles. They have also combined for 39 playoff appearances, though neither team has seen the post-season since they both made it in 1999.
A true rivalry only exists if both teams remain competitive. Looking at the overall win-loss record between the teams and recent dominance by the Cowboys, one would have good reason to question whether the rivalry really still exists. In fact, some of the players on both teams have been quoted as saying they didn't feel the rivalry was as strong as it was in years past. On the other hand, there are players such as Chris Samuels, Lavar Arrington and even Patrick Ramsey who have made their positions perfectly clear regarding the Cowboys. They hate them and losing to them is simply unacceptable. Even Steve Spurrier knows the tradition that exists between these teams. At his first press conference as the coach of the Redskins he stated that one of the things he wanted to do was beat the Cowboys. Having one of the biggest Redskin fans and Cowboy haters signing your paycheck carries some added pressure to beat their long time rival. In fact, after the Redskins handed the Cowboys their only loss in this rivalry last December, Spurrier gave the game ball to Dan Snyder.
While it may seem that some of the heat has been lost from this rivalry, perhaps you aren't looking in the right place. While some of the current players may have forgotten all the history between these teams, we the fans will never forget it and thus the rivalry will never end. Just like the Hatfield's and McCoys', Redskins and Cowboys will continue to be one of the greatest rivalries of all times. Now, something has to be done about tipping the win-loss scale back in the Redskins favor.
Be sure to come back next week to check the view from the Cheap Seats....