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Week 15 - @ Dallas Cowboys

Blognosticator - Jimbo

I HATE THE DALLAS COWBOYS! How did the obvious come about for me? In 1965, my Mom bought my Dad a pair of Redskins season tickets for his 50th birthday. In 1966 they added a third seat. Location: Section 211, Row 11, Seats 3-5. We had those same seats until the Skins left the friendly confines of RFK Stadium and moved into what is now FedEx Field.

I can remember looking at the old game programs my Dad would bring home from the games and I would pour through them for pictures, reports from previous games, league stats, Redskins stats and the all important league standings. Invariably, at the top of the Capitol Division standings in each program would be the Dallas Cowboys. Not only did they always seem to beat the Skins, their players were always listed near the top of the individual stats. It didn’t take long for this to get under my skin, even at eight or nine years old.

The first Super Bowl I remember watching was Super Bowl II (Green Bay vs. Oakland) but the first game that REALLY caught my attention was the game played two weeks earlier. It was the NFL Championship Game, aka the Ice Bowl, played on Lambeau Field’s Frozen Tundra on New Year’s Eve, 1967. You know the story. With 4:50 left, Dallas led 17-14, which REALLY galled my father and future brother-in-law. At that moment, I became a Packers fan without fully understanding why. As Bart Starr drove his team down to the two yard line, we all cheered and sat on the edge of our seats. After their final timeout, Green Bay lined up with 16 seconds left on the clock and Starr followed RG Jerry Kramer into the endzone for the winning score. We were elated. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I realized our joy at that moment wasn’t in the Packers victory but in the Cowboys defeat. Thus was born my own version of “I Root for Two Teams……”

While a Skins-Cowboys rivalry already existed, thanks to Clint Murchison purchasing the rights to “Hail to the Redskins” from a traitorous Barnee Breeskin, and the “Chicken Game” in 1962, it took on new life when George Allen came to town. Because of George and later Joe Gibbs, I purchased a plethora of “Dallas Sucks” and “F### Dallas” paraphernalia. Did I mention I HATE THE DALLAS COWBOYS? Names like Tom Landry, Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, Clint Longley, Tony Hill, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, Jerry Jones and Michael Irvin still stick in my craw.

In order to have a GREAT rivalry, you have to occasionally beat the bad guys when it matters. While there were several memorable regular season games that allowed the rivalry to thrive, it was those two NFC Championship Games, in 1972 and 1982 that made it soar into the stratosphere for me. I attended the latter and it will be forever etched in my mind.

My Dad, a lifelong Redskins fan, passed away on Sunday, November 23, 1986. Fittingly, the Redskins’ opponent that day was none other than the hated Cowboys. The home team did him proud, winning 41-14. It was the only home game against Dallas between 1976 and 1993 that I missed.

On to the latest matchup in “The Rivalry”.

The Setup. The Skins are coming off a loss that leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of the players, coaches and especially the fans. The Skins outplayed the Bucs everywhere except Special Teams and the Scoreboard. I don’t think it was a coincidence that the return of Ryan Torain also meant the return of the running game. Even though the final score didn’t reflect it, it shows how good the offense can be when the running game is working.

The Boys went toe-to-toe with a very good Philadelphia Eagles team that recently annihilated the Skins. Coming off a tough loss like that will have them even more determined. Especially with their offense clicking.

When the Redskins have the ball. Since 1981, when the Skins play Dallas at home first and away second, they have only won that home game six times. Only twice have they also won the second game, in 1984 and 1995. The last time the Skins defeated Dallas twice in ANY season was in 2005, thanks to the “Miracle at Midnight” and Chris Cooley. History and the odds are against us. Since 2000, Donovan McNabb is 6-5 IN Dallas but has lost his last 3 there. Our O-Line will have to fend off what will likely be a fierce pass rush. Winning the field position and time of possession battles will be key. That means Ryan Torain will need to be able to run the ball effectively enough to allow play-action to work. Once in the Red Zone, the Offense will HAVE to score TD’s, and NOT FG’s, in order to win. Kyle Shanahan’s playcalling will need to be a hell of a lot more imaginative than it has been and he’d better have a few tricks up his sleeve. Donovan McNabb simply CAN’T turn the ball over and give Dallas a short field.

When the Evil Empire has the ball. Jason Garrett has committed to running the ball and effectively mixing in play-action. With Dez Bryant out for the season, Miles Austin becomes the team’s only real deep threat. Jon Kitna is deadly in the 3-step drop and has really developed a fondness for Jason Witten. If T.O. was jealous of Tony Romo’s affair with him, he’d downright HATE Kitna. Our D-Line will have its hands full as it needs to not only stop the run but try to pressure Kitna. Almost 75% of his pass attempts are ten yards or less. Our LB’s will have to keep Witten from getting open down the middle of the field while our secondary has to keep everything underneath and prevent the big play while limiting the number of plays over 20 yards. That means eliminating YAC (yards after catch) and the way our secondary has been tackling lately, that’s a major concern.

Special Teams. Prevent big returns and keep Dallas as deep in their own territory as possible. Eliminate stupid penalties and mistakes and give Banks a chance to make a play that counts.

Final Score – As much as it pains me, and believe me it does, I have to make it three Blognostication picks in a row for the bad guys. McNabb will likely be harried and throw his usual grounders as well as a couple of picks. I also see him losing a fumble on a sack. Moss will drop at least one pass, as will Carlo Rogers, and despite keeping it close most of the game, the Skins will find a way to lose.

Dallas 27 – Skins 16

Out on a limb prediction – We will see a trick play from our Special Teams and no, it won’t be the swinging gate.

More likely prediction – One of McNabb’s passes will be returned by the Dallas secondary for a TD.

Even more likely prediction – As is usual with almost ALL Dallas home games, penalty flags, lack thereof, and disputed/controversial calls will go the home team’s way. We will all initially be angry but will shake our heads when we come to the conclusion it’s simply par for the course this season.

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As we enjoy today's conversations, let's remember our dear friends 'Docsandy', Sandy Zier-Teitler, and 'Posse Lover', Michael Huffman, who would dearly love to be here with us today! We love and miss you guys ❤

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