The Washington Redskins' season draws to a close this Sunday afternoon at FedExField. While they may only have one game left in the 2014 season, they certainly understand the magnitude of the situation.
It's Dallas Week.
For the 110th time since the two started squaring off in 1960, the Redskins renew their rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys. This time, they enter hot off a thrilling victory over the Philadelphia Eagles last Saturday at FedExField.
The win ended a six-game skid for the Redskins and was something that Jay Gruden feels the team needed.
"It's good to get a win," the first-year head coach said. "We needed it greatly. I think the whole team needed it. To go through the week, prepare and compete against a team that really had a lot to play for was a very impressive evening by a lot of guys."
While he may not have much experience in this rivalry, Gruden understands the weight that these games carry and just how much a win would mean to both his team and its fanbase.
"It would be a great deal," he said. "I know we are 4-11, not a whole lot of excitement after this game happening, but still to beat Dallas, to play Dallas is a great opportunity for a lot of guys to get more work and go against a heck of a football team. That's always great. So it's going to be an exciting game for us."
Already this season, the Redskins have found success against their nemesis. Led by quarterback Colt McCoy on Monday Night Football, Washington upset the Dallas 20-17 in overtime inside their Arlington, Texas, home. Should the Redskins win on Sunday, it would be their second sweep of the Cowboys in the past three seasons.
One player that has been on both ends of rivalry is rookie linebacker Jackson Jeffcoat. Jim Jeffcoat, his father, played along Dallas' defensive line from 1983-1994. In his 12 seasons with the Cowboys, he recorded 94.5 sacks and forced 16 fumbles while recovering another 11.
Since he grew up around the rivalry, he understands what it means to play in this game.
"I grew up on the other side, so I know how big it is for them," Jeffcoat said. "Being over here, I know how big it is for us, as well. It's definitely a big game and it's very exciting."
Don't get it twisted, though, his father may have played for his current franchise's rivals, but he knows where his loyalty lies on Sunday.
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"I'm excited to be able to play with the Redskins and this rivalry," he said.
Another player that has a unique understanding of the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is linebacker Keenan Robinson. Robinson played for the University of Texas and grew up in Plano, Texas.
Robinson -- who has missed the last two games with a knee injury -- said that the opportunity to exact payback for last year's season sweep by Dallas is certainly motivation for Sunday's game.
"I think the fact that it's a rivalry game means more to me because we have an opportunity to do something that they did to us last year which is sweep them," he said. "I just want to win this game and put my best foot forward and try to end the season on a good note."
Last week, the Cowboys -- thanks to the Redskins' win over the second-place Eagles -- wrapped up the NFC East title with a 42-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. As the Redskins prepare for their final game, Gruden and quarterback Robert Griffin III understand the challenge that the Cowboys present.
After collecting 377 yards of total offense and only allowing 229 yards on defense, Gruden said Dallas was "almost perfect both offensively and defensively" against the Colts. To echo his head coach, Griffin III said Sunday's matchup is certainly a game Washington wants to win, but that the Redskins have plenty of respect for their opponents.
"It's Dallas Week," Griffin III said. "Our fans want to sweep Dallas, we want to sweep Dallas, but like I said, it's not going to be easy. It'll be a good challenge. That's what you want. You want the best shot, and we're looking forward to it."
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