The Dallas Cowboys start the playoffs this Sunday, December 30, 2012, against the Washington Redskins. While the game is the final regular season game of the 2012 season, it is a playoff game. The loser will be eliminated, and the winner goes on to the playoffs as the Eastern Division champion of the NFC.
When the season started few would have thought the Redskins and Cowboys would be in this position. The New York Giants entered the season as the favorite to win the east, and Philadelphia had to be considered New York’s biggest threat. Sure there were die-hard Cowboy and Redskin fans that would point out their teams had a chance to be special, but even Las Vegas thought there was little chance. Going into the regular season, Vegas had the odds of either team winning the Super Bowl set at the Cowboys at 25 to 1 and the Redskins at 100 to 1.
Well as the season finishes up this Sunday things have changed. The Eagles quit a month ago. They have been a mess all year. The team with arguably the most talent fell flat on their face, and Head Coach Andy Reid will probably be fired after the season is officially over. The Giants fought injuries all season and the defense just never played well for more than a game at one time.
The Redskins have found new life in the last six weeks of the season. The Redskins were left for dead six weeks ago. Mike Shanahan made the comment that players were playing for their jobs for next year during a press conference six weeks ago. The players must have been listening that day because the team has rallied and won the last six games going into Sunday. One of those games was a Thanksgiving Day win over the Cowboys, 38-31 in Arlington.
The Cowboys have also had a resurgence the second half of the season. Tony Romo and the offense have come alive. The offensive line seems to have gotten better at giving Romo time to throw, and Romo has responded by throwing 10 touchdowns in the last four games. During that span, Romo threw only one interception while compiling 1328 yards through the air.
Dez Bryant has been an absolute beast, playing with an index finger awaiting surgery after the season. Bryant has finally played up to expectations. During the last four games, Bryant has caught 23 passes for 441 yards; more importantly six of those catches have gone for touchdowns.
So here we are going into the final game of the regular season, and Cowboys and Redskins fans are going back to the future. During the ‘90s, no two teams hated each other as much as these two. Fans who had never met hated each other based on the jersey color. Then came along Jimmy Johnson, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, they so dominated the Redskins during the decade of the ‘90s the rivalry lost some of the intrigue. That domination was so one-sided with no end in sight some say it drove Joe Gibbs into retirement.
This Sunday, the rivalry becomes officially renewed. The winner will have bragging rights, the Eastern Division Championship and a trip to the playoffs. The loser will have another off-season to regroup, make tee times, and become a spectator. Hopefully the winner will go on to make a miracle run to the Vince Lombardi trophy. The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry of the ‘80s and ’90 meant something unique to the fans. Today’s Cowboys fans need to experience the rivalry the way it was meant to be.
Yes, I know Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris along the rest of the Redskins are people and just doing their jobs. I know the Cowboys will have to play a perfect game to go into Washington and leave with a win. I know if they play as they have been, that can happen. I know the Redskins are going to do everything they can in order to prevent that from happening. I know that at kickoff time, I am going back to the ‘80s and ‘90s, I am going to hate the Redskins, their fans, the city, everything about them until the game is over and Dallas leaves with a win.
I think Dallas will win. I think Romo will finally make people forget the fumble on that extra point in Seattle. I think Dez Bryant will make people say wow. I think the defense will be just good enough, and I think the rivalry will be reborn. I only have one hope for the game, that I do not have to hear Bob Costas make a speech about anything but football.