Last night at FedEx Field, the Washington Redskins pulled out a heart-stopping 13-7 victory over their hated rivals the Dallas Cowboys in a game that went right down to the final play. The Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys go together like Bonnie and Clyde. The two teams share a storied and fierce rivalry among the best in North American sports. You have rivalries such as Yankees-Red Sox, UNC-Duke, Ohio State-Michigan and Army-Navy often cited as the best in sports. The Redskins and Cowboys are right up there.
Sports Illustrated named Redskins-Cowboys the greatest rivalry in NFL history in 2008. ESPN named in the 9th best rivalry in sports history in 1999. Those rankings are well-deserved.
Sunday night was another typical Dallas-Washington finish. The Cowboys, down 13-7, marched down into the red zone looking to score a touchdown and send the D.C, faithful home to a heart-wrenching defeat. With three seconds left, they had one play left. Romo escaped the pressure from Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo (this is very significant) and found Roy Williams for what would have likely been the game-winning touchdown.
Unfortunately for Dallas, that wasn’t the final word. Offensive lineman Alex Barron, filling in for Marc Columbo, blatantly held Orakpo in a sort of neck grapple, keeping him from what would have surely been a game-ending sack. The flag was thrown, McNabb threw his hands up in celebration and the 90,000 Skins fans who showed up went into delirium. The roller coaster of emotions was complete. Dallas ended the game the way it ended the second half, with a huge mistake. The Redskins escaped victorious 13-7.
In 2004, Vinny Testaverde found Patrick Crayton for a 30 yard strike with less than a minute remaining to lift Dallas to a 13-10 win at Texas Stadium.
In 2005, the Redskins, down 13-0 at Texas Stadium, came back and won 14-13 on Monday Night Football as Mark Brunell found Santana Moss for two consecutive touchdowns late in the fourth quarter.
In 2006, the Redskins and Cowboys played down to what would have been a game-winning kick by Cowboys kicker Mike Vanderjagt. The kick was blocked and returned down to the Dallas 45 yard line. A 15-yard face mask penalty during the return was also added onto the play. The Redskins then launched a 47-yard field goal barely through the uprights to win the game 22-19.
The teams have met in two NFC Championship games, the Redskins winning both of them in 1972 and 1982.
They played in the legendary 1974 Thanksgiving Game where unknown quarterback Clint Longley came in for Roger Staubach and hurled a 50-yard touchdown with 28 seconds left to give Dallas a 24-23 victory.
Among countless classic affairs, last night’s game fits in somewhere.
It was the most watched primetime game in 13 years in the NFL and drew the highest overnight ratings in Sunday Night Football history. 57 percent of D.C. households and 58% of Dallas households tuned in.
Think they aren’t going to care because it was just a Week 1 match-up? Guess again.
Expect another close contest when the Redskins visit Dallas on December 19th.
PFT: Cowboys-Redskins game generates huge ratings