Redskins, Cowboys to meet for 100th time Sunday

NFL Notes

Washington GM Allen is geared up for 'great rivalry'

December 27, 2009|By From Sun news services

As the rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins hits the century mark, Bruce Allen still has a painful twinge in his voice at the mention of one three-word phrase.

"The Mad Bomber."

" Thanksgiving is ruined forever for that," the Redskins' general manager said. "I never even liked turkey sandwiches after that."

"The Mad Bomber," of course, is Clint Longley, the backup quarterback who led the Cowboys to a 24-23 come-from-behind stunner on Thanksgiving Day in 1974. The Redskins - coached by Allen's father, George - had knocked Roger Staubach from the game and led 16-3, but one-hit-wonder Longley came on to throw his first NFL passes, including a 50-yard touchdown to Drew Pearson with 28 seconds remaining.

Cowboys-Redskins, Edition No. 100 takes place tonight, appropriately enough in prime time. The Cowboys (9-5) hope to be in position to clinch a playoff berth, while the Redskins (4-10) are playing out the string for lame duck coach Jim Zorn.

The cold numbers say the Cowboys lead the series 58-39-2, although the Redskins have won both playoff meetings. Emotionally, players and fans say there's nothing like it, especially in Washington, where the rivalry has always been taken more seriously than in Dallas.

"The only one that's probably in that same class is Bears-Packers, just because it's forever," Bruce Allen said. "It's Cowboys and Indians. For so long, these franchises, every game is meaningful. It's a great rivalry for the NFL."

It's timely that the game comes less than two weeks after Allen was hired by the Redskins. After all, it was his father's scorn for stoic counterpart Tom Landry and the team from Texas that stoked a passion that still burns decades later.

"It was George Allen, who didn't believe in the draft, vs. the Cowboys, who believed in the draft," longtime NFL running back Calvin Hill said. "It was over-the-hill players against players who were young. It was two coaches who were diametrically opposed; one was very reserved and one was very emotional.

"I think George actually made an effort to create a focus and a goal - we have to get through Dallas. So he ratcheted up that whole thing. 'You've got to hate Dallas.' "

Two of the most memorable games in the series are remembered simply by a nickname and a chant: "The Mad Bomber" and "We Want Dallas!"

"We Want Dallas!" was the cry that literally shook the flexible bleachers of RFK Stadium during Washington's 31-17 win in the NFC championship game on Jan. 22, 1983. The Cowboys were the only team to beat the Redskins during the strike-shortened regular season, and Washington's subsequent Super Bowl victory wouldn't have felt quite the same if the Redskins hadn't exacted revenge.

"It wouldn't have been worth anything if we didn't get to beat Dallas," said Joe Jacoby, a longtime member of the offensive line known as the "Hogs." "That game is still vivid. Just seeing the stands move and the crowd and how loud they were."

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