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Redskins Legacy: '72 Redskins Dominate Cowboys


In the four-plus decades of the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry, the players with stars on their helmets have built a sizeable advantage, winning 64 of the 109 times the two teams have clashed.

However, the Redskins have prevailed when the stakes have been highest: the 1972 NFC championship and the 1982 NFC championship.

The first victory punched the Redskins' ticket to Super Bowl VII, where they fell to the Dolphins, 14-7.  But as Redskins' defensive end Ron McDole said, destroying the Cowboys, 26-3, on Dec. 31, 1972, was "kind of like our Super Bowl."

The Redskins' 30-year drought of winning a championship of any kind ended that night. The colossal win before 53,129 fans at RFK Stadium dethroned the defending Super Bowl champions and earned the Redskins a once-unfathomable achievement – a trip to the Super Bowl.  It also served as the crowning moment in the 12-year NFL coaching career of George Allen, who called the win a "near-perfect" performance by his veteran-laden squad.

"I said all along, give me a bunch of older men who have taken care of themselves, and I can go all the way," Allen said of his squad dubbed the "Over The Hill Gang."  "A lot of people wrote us off as too old, too slow and too heavy. Nobody wanted them. I just want to say they're a great group."


The Redskins embarrassed their fierce rivals while playing like champions. They piled up 316 yards of offense in a mostly methodical fashion to wear down the Cowboys' famed "Doomsday Defense." 

Quarterback Billy Kilmer played the game of his life, completing 14-of-18 passes (77.8 percent) for 194 yards and two touchdowns to receiver Charley Taylor (seven catches, 146 yards). Larry Brown rushed 30 times for 88 yards. And Curt Knight set a playoff record by hitting all four of his field goal attempts and adding to his 7-for-7 performance in the first two playoff games.

Washington's defense stifled the Cowboys' offense and prevented a touchdown for the second straight playoff game. Dallas gained only 169 yards, and quarterback Roger Staubach, a future Hall of Famer, completed 9-of-20 throws for 98 yards. Unable to find receivers open, he scrambled five times for 59 yards but was sacked three times for 29 yards in losses. Running backs Calvin Hill and Walt Garrison combined for 37 yards on 16 carries.

"It was a huge game for us, just to get to the Super Bowl the way we did," said Kilmer, whose offensive line provided airtight protection. "And the way we won the game so decisively.  Everybody played so good that day."

Cowboys cornerback Mel Renfro said the Redskins caught Dallas flat following its 30-28 playoff win over the 49ers that featured a comeback from a 15-point, fourth-quarter deficit.

"We had just come off a very emotional win in San Francisco the week before, and it was right after Christmas," Renfro said. "We came to Washington thinking we'd just float by the Redskins, but they had something for us. They beat us soundly, and we deserved it. Anything can happen on any given Sunday, and it was one of those Sundays where it was the Redskins' day and not the Cowboys."

A look back at some of the top images in games between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys.

Under gray skies and in unusually high 60-degree temperatures, the teams played to a scoreless tie in the first quarter. But the Redskins pieced together a 37-yard drive that Knight capped with an 18-yard field goal about 10 minutes before halftime. Soon after, Kilmer tested Dallas left cornerback Charlie Waters, who Taylor beat for a 51-yard reception to the Dallas 21. Minutes later, Taylor cut inside Waters and caught a 15-yard scoring pass. Knight's conversion put the Redskins up, 10-0, with 5:33 left in the half.

Dallas threatened later when Staubach ran 29 yards to the Washington 39. But the Redskins held on downs, and Toni Fritsch's 35-yard field goal hit the left upright and bounced through for a 10-3 game.

In the third period, Washington crafted an 11-play, 78-yard scoring drive.  Kilmer mixed runs mostly by Larry Brown and a few passes to move the ball into Dallas territory, where the Redskins faced a 3rd-and-10 on the 45. Kilmer again tried to exploit the Cowboys' left cornerback, which this time was third-year man Mark Washington.

In one of the prettiest throws ever by the self-proclaimed "wobbly" passer, Kilmer launched a bomb down the sideline to Taylor, who caught the pass in full stride past the diving Washington and strode into the end zone.

It was good Knight from then on.  The kicker booted field goals of 39, 46 and 45 yards, after each of which the roar from the crowd became louder. The band started playing "California, Here We Come," in reference to the Redskins' pending trip to Los Angeles to plan in Super Bowl VII, and the fans chanted "Amen" and "We're Number One." 

When the final gun sounded, thousands of delirious fans stormed the field, while Redskins players hoisted Allen onto their shoulders and carried him through the mob.

"We were all on top of the world after that game," McDole said.


. He hosts a podcast called "Burgundy & Gold Flashback." His web site is Check out his Facebook Friend and Fan pages and follow him on Twitter.**




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