Six times the Redskins have drawn the Dallas Thanksgiving Day straw and six times they've lost. If a picture paints a thousand words of what the Thanksgiving trip to Dallas has been, Google up the shot of punter Bryan Barker's gruesome broken nose from the last time the Skins played there on turkey day. Though for gut punches, few can match the one delivered by Clint Longley 38-years ago. So history is not on the Redskins side as they make the trip west on Thursday. Here now is the sorry six pack of Thanksgiving losses in the Lone Star State.
November 28, 1968, Cotton Bowl, Cowboys 29 - Redskins 20 - This was thankfully (no pun intended) the last time Otto Graham coached in Dallas. He would be fired a few weeks later after a 5-9 finish. At 4-7 coming in to the game, there was little to play for with the Cowboys having all but wrapped up the division at 9-2. Plus the Skins would have to play without star quarterback Sonny Jurgensen, who was in bed with the flu. The well-traveled Jim Ninowski got the call and nearly pulled off a Sonny-like performance. Down 17-0 in the first half, Ninowski threw touchdown passes to Charley Taylor, Jerry Smith and Pat Richter to put the Redskins on top 20-19 in the fourth quarter. But the Cowboys went back up on a field goal and iced the game when Ninowski was hit by Jethro Pugh as he was releasing the ball. As it popped in the air, Larry Cole caught it and ran in for the touchdown. It was Cole's first career touchdown. He would finish his 13-year career with four of them - all against the Redskins. However, there was a 10-year gap between the third and fourth one. Asked why it had taken so long to get his fourth score, Cole said, "Everybody has a bad decade."
November 28, 1974, Texas Stadium, Cowboys 24 - Redskins 23 - The "Hindenberg" of regular season losses for the Redskins. Star defensive lineman Diron Talbert noted early in the week how the Cowboys might be in trouble, should Roger Staubach be knocked out of the game. With Craig Morton now playing for the Giants, the backup for Roger Staubach was rookie Clint Longley, who had never played in a regular season game. Sure enough with the Skins up 16-3 in the third quarter, Dave Robinson knocked Staubach out of the game with a vicious hit. Looked like game over. But Longley continued the drive, throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass to Billy Joe DuPree. A drive later, Longley put the Cowboys on top with a handoff to Walt Garrison, who took it on from the one. The stunned Skins got it back together and went on top again 23-17 after Duane Thomas ran it in from 19-yards out against his former team for his second touchdown of the day. The lead held with less than a minute to play and Dallas faced fourth and six at their own 44. Surely Longley wouldn't pull a Staubach. Surely he did. After picking up the first down, Longley launched a 50-yard bomb to Drew Pearson, who somehow got past Ken Stone and hauled it in for the game-winner. In training camp the following year, Longley threw a punch at Staubach and was never heard from again.
November 23, 1978, Texas Stadium, Cowboys 37 - Redskins 10 - In a season that had gone from a 6-0 start to 8-4, this was a chance for the Redskins to get the season back on track. Dallas had the same record, but there was nothing even about this game. Dallas led 20-0 before the Skins picked up a first down. The Redskins only touchdown of the day came on a garbage-time 16-yard pass from Joe Theismann to Jean Fugett. The Redskins would go on to lose their last three to finish the season 8-8.
November 22, 1990, Texas Stadium, Cowboys 27 - Redskins 17 - This was an interesting intersection of teams that would win the Super Bowls over the three seasons that would follow this one. The Cowboys, who's only win the year before had been against the Skins, were much improved with rookie Emmitt Smith, second-year quarterback Troy Aikman and emerging star Michael Irvin. The Cowboys took a 10-0 lead on a touchdown pass to Irvin. But with a touchdown pass from Mark Rypien to Ricky Sanders, the Redskins led 17-10 in the third quarter. That proved to be the end of the day for the offense. Emmitt would run for two touchdowns - the second one went 48 yards to seal the win. Cowboys announcer Brad Sham completed his call by shouting, "Happy Thanksgiving Emmitt." The Skins would go on to win four of their last five games, beat the Eagles in a Wild Card game, before ending the season with a loss in San Francisco.
November 28, 1996, Texas Stadium, Cowboys 21 - Redskins 10 - The Redskins had started this season at 7-1, but by the time they reached this Thanksgiving matchup, they were tied with the Cowboys at 8-4. A Gus Frerotte touchdown pass to Leslie Shepherd put the Redskins up 10-7 in the third quarter. But Emmitt Smith in his prime was no match for the Redskins weak run defense. Emmitt would go on to score his second and third touchdowns of the day to go with his 155 yards on the ground. At 8-5, the Skins still had playoff hopes, but dropped the next two at Tampa and Arizona, making the RFK finale against Dallas meaningless. The Cowboys had already clinched all they could clinch and rested their starters. With three touchdowns from Terry Allen, they closed down RFK with a 37-10 win to finish 9-7.
November 28, 2002, Texas Stadium, Cowboys 27 - Redskins 20 - Coming off a surprise Danny Wuerffel-quarterbacked win over Curt Warner and the Rams, the Redkins came in to this game at 5-6. Although they had lost their last nine against the Cowboys, this was not a good Dallas team. At 4-7, they were quarterbacked by Chad Hutchinson. The Skins could have and should have won this game. It got ugly early - although not on the scoreboard. In the first quarter, Kevin Mitchell blocked a Dallas punt, which was recovered at the Cowboys 25. Three plays later, James Tuthill's field goal attempt was blocked by Flozell Adams and in the chase for the ball, punter and holder Bryan Barker took a knee to the nose - the sight of which made you want to lose your Thanksgiving dinner. But the Skins went on to take a 20-10 lead in third quarter with Wuerffel touchdown passes to Rod Gardner, Zeron Flemister and Derrius Thompson. Then the horror show. On third down from his own one, Wuerffel threw a pass to Kenny Watson. The ball bouced off his hands and in to the waiting mitts of Roy Williams, who took it in for the score. After that, Emmitt Smith, who was now in his 13th year of Redskin killing, rolled up 144 of the 231 yards the Cowboys gained on the ground. The game-winner was a 41-yard touchdown pass from Hutchinson to Joey Galloway. Billy Cundiff tacked on an insurance field goal. Four days later, Barker and his nose were put on injured reserve and Tuthill was cut. The replacements were punter Craig Jennings and kicker Joe Cortez. A month later, the Skins ended the season by beating Dallas in Darrell Green's last game to finish 7-9.