Preview of Redskins and Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day and a Look Back at that Humdinger They Played Back in 1974

It doesn’t get much more Americana than the Cowboys playing the Redskins on Thanksgiving Day. With Redskin rookie and former Baylor QB RG3 coming to Dallas to play for the first time, Thursday’s game is rich with story lines. But no matter what happens Thursday, the game they played on Thanksgiving Day in 1974 will be a tough act to follow.

Of all the memorable games in this long rivalry, that game in ’74 stands out most in my mind. It was the game where QB Roger Staubach was knocked out of the game with Dallas trailing 16-3 in the third. The Cowboys back up was a little known rookie no, make that a completely unknown rookie (remember it’s the 70’s and no ESPN) named Clint Longley who had played at a small college Abilene Christian University the previous year. He led a come back that was amazing. VIDEO

Longley threw three TD passes to lead the Cowboys to a 24-23 victory. All of them were bombs. The winning TD was a 50 yard bomb to Drew Pearson that lifted stuffed Cowboys fans off their couches at home to exchange high fives. How was it every time Dallas needed a miracle Drew Pearson always seemed to get open? He had an uncanny ability to make a game winning play.

In 1976 during preseason, Longley sucker punched Staubach in the locker room so Longley was immediately traded to the Chargers. In that deal, the Cowboys picked up a first round pick they used to get RB Tony Dorsett. Now you know the rest of that story. Had Longley not had such an outstanding game on Thanksgiving Day would the Chargers have been willing to give up so much? I think not.

Longley eventually proved to be a one game wonder.

INJURIES: Both teams come into Thursday’s game with significant injuries.

SKINS are THIN– The Skins have been hit hard on the defensive side with LB London Fletcher and CB Josh Wilson uncertain for the game.

Boys Banged Up– The Cowboys are hurting on their offensive line where they lost tackle Tyron Smith with an ankle injury Sunday. They were already without two centers Costa and Cook. It’s not known if any of them will play. They have been without their top RB Murray and it is doubtful he will return Thursday either.

Redskins Defense: The Cowboys have played several teams this year that were weak against the run however this is an area where the Redskins are gettin’ er done. The Redskins are allowing an average of less than 100 yards rushing a game which ranks them 7th in the NFL.

It’s the Redskin secondary that has led to their losing record as they have allowed 289 yards a game which is 29th in the NFL. Last week against the Eagles rookie QB starting his first game, their secondary played well. But Romo isn’t a rookie and this won’t be his first rodeo. The Skins defense does have an impressive 12 INTs this season.

My Take: The Cowboys will likely struggle to run the ball. This is one game where I think you turn Romo loose in Clint Longley style because the Cowboys receivers will be open. The big question is will Romo have enough time to throw the ball? Last week he was sacked 7 times. If they can give Romo some time, I think he has a big day. If Romo is sacked more than 2 times, I don’t like their chances of winning. Also I think Dallas will need to score at least 27 points to win the game.  

Redskins Offense: Lead by rookie QB RG3, the Redskins offense has been impressive. The Redskins are 2nd in the NFL in rushing the ball at 165 yards/game. Coach Shanahan is a rushing guru and knows how to get yards on the ground. Rookie RB Alfred Morris is having an outstanding season with three 100 yard games and he could be trouble for Dallas. Of course RG3 is a very capable runner that Dallas will have to defend as well.

MY TAKE: Priority number one for the Cowboys defense will be to keep Morris in check in the running game and number 2, keep RG3 in the pocket. With recent injuries, the Dallas defense has not been quite as tight in their run defense. The Dallas safeties will need to be aware that the Redskin QB is very good at buying time and then launching a missile far down the field to open WRs. They can not afford to ease up on the play no matter how far down the field the Redskin WRs take them. Open field tackling will need to be crisp when RG3 scrambles.

For Dallas to win, Morris needs to be held under 100 yards rushing.  Also I think Dallas must come up with at least two turnovers to win the game.