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Redskins Alternative: The Bitter End

This week, Tom travels back to 1979, where Joe Theismann and the Redskins clash with the first-place Cowboys in a crucial, late-season game

Joe Theismann - Washington Redskins - File Photos Photo by Nate Fine/Getty Images

The Redskins and Giants had about as entertaining a game as two 3-11 teams could have.

Washington came up on the losing end, of course. If my Twitter feed is an at-all-accurate measure, at least half of you were pleased with that outcome.

Spoiler alert: The Redskins picking second instead of fourth won’t make much difference if the man in charge of that selection is still Bruce Allen. For that reason and more, I’m in the “root for Washington no matter what” camp.

Especially when the opponent is Dallas.

The homestanding Cowboys are reeling after an uninspired loss to the Eagles that has them on the outside of the current playoff picture. On the other side, the Redskins will be without Dwayne Haskins, and really have little left for which to play (I mean besides pride, obviously).

As has been the norm in the second half of the season, I won’t be delving into any of that or previewing this inexplicably flexed season finale.

Instead, I want to look back at a different Redskins—Cowboys clash.

This week’s alternative game: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins (1979 Week 12)

Preview: The Cowboys had been the NFC’s representative in each of the prior two Super Bowls, and had been tormenting the Redskins more season than not since the rivalry came into existence.

This year, however, it looked early on like Washington might have a shot to best Dallas for NFC supremacy for the first time since ‘72. Coach Jack Pardee’s Redskins started 6-2, while Dallas rolled to a 7-1 record in the first half. Meanwhile, the lurking, resurgent Eagles had themselves started 6-1 before losing to the Redskins. Then, Washington dropped two straight, including a harrowing 38-7 defeat at the hands of the world champion Steelers.

Yet, Dallas also lost to Pittsburgh, as it had in the Super Bowl in January. The Cowboys went on to drop a game to Philly, while the Skins rebounded from the blowout loss to the Steelers to edge the Cardinals 30-28. That set the stage for the 8-3 ‘Boys to battle the 7-4 Redskins at RFK with major divisional implications.

Washington was led offensively by Joe Theismann and a pre-retirement John Riggins, who would go on to rush for over 1,100 yards, as well as a secondary that was one of the best in football. The Redskins’ defensive backfield included three Pro Bowlers in safety Ken Houston and corners Joe Lavender and Lemar Parrish, with Parrish also being named All-Pro.

Naturally, the Cowboys of this era are all-too-familiar to Redskins fans. Roger Staubach was still playing good football in his final season as the Dallas signal-caller. Tony Dorsett had emerged as one of the top backs in all of football. Defensively, safety Cliff Harris had his sixth-straight Pro Bowl year, and Randy White was an All-Pro in the absolute prime of his career.

With the Eagles, Redskins, and Cowboys jockeying for position at the top of the division, this Dallas—Washington game was as big a regular-season contest as there was in football in 1979. Here it is in this full broadcast from 1979:


Let’s say whatever outcome you prefer happens on Sunday against the Cowboys. With that ending in mind, what season grade would you give the 2019 Washington Redskins?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    (140 votes)
  • 24%
    (96 votes)
  • 32%
    (125 votes)
  • 7%
    Some grade higher than D
    (29 votes)
390 votes total Vote Now