A Head-to-Head History: Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys

Dallas and Washington meet tonight in a winner-take-all match-up for the NFC East Division title. Although the Redskins can still qualify for a Wild Card entry to the post season tournament with a loss, for the Cowboys it is win or go home.

Dallas has the upper hand in the all time regular season win totals with a hefty 62-39 advantage. However, Washington has won both post season contests, coming in two NFC Championship Games at the venerable RFK Stadium.

This premier rivalry had humble beginnings however. Their first meeting was in Week 3 of the 1960 season. Washington won 26-14 on the strength of four takeaways and four field goals. It would be the only win for either team that year, as they both finished at the bottom of their respective divisions. Washington 1-9-2 in the NFL East and Dallas 0-11-1 in the NFL West.

Things began to heat up in the mid 1960's as free spirited quarterbacks Sonny Jurgensen and Don Meredith commanded a series of back-and-forth come-from-behind shootouts.

The 1966 Week 10 game in Washington saw Dallas open a 24-6 third quarter lead over the mistake prone Redskins - two of the touchdowns came from a fumble return and a blocked field goal return. Jurgensen lead touchdown drives that spanned the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth, reducing the deficit to 24-20. Meredith responded with a 53-yard scoring strike to Frank Clarke to pad the lead to 31-20. Jurgensen again led a scoring drive, finishing it off with a 10-yard touchdown toss to Bobby Mitchell, cutting the Dallas lead to four. The Redskin defense held and Washington took possession on their own 20-yard line with under two minutes on the clock. After a pass interference gave the Redskins a first down on their own 38, Jurgensen completed two passes that set up a first-and-goal on the Dallas 5-yard line at 1:20. His scoring pass to Angelo Coia came on the next play and Washington took their first lead of the game 34-31. The drive only took 37 seconds and Meredith had one more chance. He advanced to the Redskins 37 with 0:07 to play, but Danny Villaneuva's field goal attempt to tie (there was no overtime in regular season games until 1974) was blocked. Dallas and Washington finished second and fourth respectively in the NFL East with 7-7 and 6-8 records.

The 5-2-1 Cowboys visited the 5-4 Redskins in November the following year and the contest was just as thrilling. Meredith hit Bob Hayes on two long passes (including one that covered 95 yards) as Dallas again opened a wide margin early in the third quarter at 21-6. Jurgensen again led a furious comeback - three drives netted 17 points and Washington lead 23-21 entering the fourth quarter. Dan Reeves and Charley Taylor traded touchdowns and the Redskins lead 30-28 as Meredith took possession at his own 3-yard line and no timeouts. The Washington faithful watched in dread as the Redskins deployed a three-man rush and soft coverage. Meredith's first down pass was good for 26 yards and his next pass was good for 12. After in incompletion and one-yard pass, Meredtih converted the third down play at 0:48 with a 25-yard completion to the Redskin 38. The final blow came on first down as Meredith was hit out-of-bounds on a scramble, the personal foul at the end of the run placed the ball on the 12, where Villanueva booted the 20-yard field goal (the goal posts were on the goal line through 1973) for the 31-30 victory.

The teams met again at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas four weeks later, where the 6-6 Redskins looked to avenge their earlier loss to the 9-2-1 Cowboys. The score was tied 17-17 entering the fourth quarter and the teams traded touchdowns - Dallas with two scoring rushes and Washington with two Jurgensen passes. Washington took over at their own 46 with two minutes to play. A 30 yard A.D. Whitfield run set the Redskins up on the Cowboys 24. Jurgensen was conservative from here, calling two runs and running the clock. Charley Gogolak kicked the winning filed goal from 29-yards out for the 34-31 win. Washington finished the year 7-7 in 5th place in the NFL East. Dallas finished first at 10-3-1 but lost the NFL Championship game 34-27 to Green Bay in the Cotton Bowl.

The Cowboys visited Washington in October 1967 in a battle of two 2-1 teams. For a change, this game was a tense defensive battle. Washington lead 7-0 at the half and Dallas led 10-7 entering the fourth quarter. Jurgensen led the Redskins on a late drive to put his team ahead 14-10 with an eight-yard pass to Taylor with just over a minute to play. Dallas returned the kickoff to their 29 and Meredith had 70 seconds on the clock. Two completions moved Dallas across the 50-yard line to the Washington 42. Two incompletions and a short pass left Dallas with a fourth-and-four on Washington's 46. Meredith found Reeves on a circle-route who outran linebacker Chris Hanburger into the end zone, giving the Cowboys the lead 17-14. Washington had one last chance, and Jurgensen and Taylor nearly pulled the miraculous attempt off. Following the kickoff with 0:07 on the clock, Jungensen hit Taylor deep in Dallas territory, but Taylor was dragged down at the Cowboys 20 with open field ahead. Washington won in Dallas later in the year, but finished 5-6-3 in third place in the NFL Capital Division. Dallas won the division at 9-5, defeated Cleveland 52-14 in the new Divisional Round of the playoffs, then lost the famous Ice Bowl in Green Bay 21-17.

The defending Super Bowl champion Cowboys met George Allen's "Over The Hill Gang" Redskins three times in 1972. Each team won at home in the regular season. The Week 5 October meeting in RFK Stadium saw two 4-1 battle for NFC East Supremacy. Craig Morton stood in for the injured Roger Staubach for the Cowboys while Jurgensen received the nod from Coach Allen over Billy Kilmer. As in years past, Jurgensen led a fourth quarter drive for the win, 24-20. Washington rolled through their schedule and arrived in Dallas in Week 11-1 to meet the 9-3 Cowboys. Kilmer had assumed the role of full-time started by this point, and his conservative style gave the Redskins a ball-control style of offense. Dallas opened a 28-3 lead by halftime and held on for a 34-24 win.

The Redskins won the NFC East with an 11-3 record and Dallas finished second at 10-4, good for a Wild Card post season entry. Washington handled Green Bay 16-3 in their Divisional Round game, while Dallas won a wild game in San Francisco 30-28, after Coach Tom Landry replaced Morton with Staubach in the second quarter with a 21-3 deficit. Allen found a way to negate the visiting Cowboys momentum before the NFC Championship even started with a little gamesmanship. Allen held his team in the lockerrom through the introduction period. Feeling the anticipation building in the stadium, the crowd's impatience grew and their cheering grew louder and louder, resonating through the stadium, while the Cowboys stood and waited. The referee eventually went into the lockerrom and told Allen to take the field, where they were met with a thunderous ovation. The Washington defense was as intense as the crowd, yielding just eight first downs to Staubach's offense as they kept the Cowboys confined to their own side of the 50-yard line the entire second half. Kilmer was efficient for the Redskins with 14-18 passing. Taylor was his big play target with seven catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns, while Larry Brown churned out 88 yards rushing  in the convincing 26-3 win. Washington went on to lose Super Bowl VII to the perfect Miami Dolphins two weeks later.

In Week 12 of the 1974 season, the 8-3 Redskins visited the 6-5 Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. The Redskins had the opportunity to clinch the NFC East with a win, in part due to a win over their rivals only 10 days earlier in Washington. The game was certainly in their favor with just under 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. They had a 16-3 lead and Staubach had just left the game with an injury after a hit by linebacker Dave Robinson. Rookie Clint Longley, seeing his first regular season action, promptly led the Cowboys down-field, and capped the drive with a 35-yard touchdown strike to tight end Billy Joe DuPree. The Cowboys defense held and Longley again moved his team into Redskin territory for another touchdown. Dallas led at the end of the third quarter 17-16. Washington regained the lead on a 19-yard rush by former Cowboy Duane Thomas, and had a chance to ice the game after recovering a Dallas fumble, but defender Ed "Too Tall" Jones blocked Mark Mosley's 19-yard field goal attempt. The Redskins recovered another fumble and had a chance to close the game, but three rushes could not gain a first down and they punted the ball back to Dallas with 1:45 on the clock and no time outs. Longley converted a fourth-and-six with a pass to Hayes at the 50. After an incompletion, Longley hit wide receiver Drew Pearson on a deep route at the four and he ran into the end zone for the stunning touchdown to complete the comeback 24-23. The Redskins rebounded to win the NFC East with a 10-4 record, but lost to the Rams in the Divisional Playoffs. Dallas finished in third place with an 8-4 record and out of the playoffs.

Week 16 of the 1979 season saw the 10-5 Redskins visit 10-5 Dallas in Staubach's last regular season game in Texas stadium in a winner-take-all battle for the NFC East crown. The Redskins had won the first game in Week 12 at RFK Stadium 34-20, and locked the teams with 8-4 records. Just like many of the games between these bitter rivals, they saved their best for last. Washington led 17-14 at the half, and Dallas scored the only touchdown of the third period to give them a 21-17 advantage entering the final quarter. The Redskins roared ahead with 17 unanswered points, the final seven coming on the legs of fullback John Riggins' 66-yard, tackle-shedding rumble. The 34-21 seemed safe, but the Dallas defense still had big plays left in them. First, defensive tackle Randy White recovered a Clarence Harmon third-down fumble on his own 41 with 3:49 on the clock, which ultimately set up a Staubach-to-Ron Springs 29-yard touchdown with 2:20 to play. An incomplete pass and eight-yard rush left Washington facing a thirds-and-two after the two minute warning. When a first down would've allowed the Redskins to run the clock down, linebacker Larry Cole threw Riggins for a two-yard loss, forcing a punt. It only took Staubach five plays to move Dallas from their own 25 to the Washington's eight yard-line. On second down, Staubach read the Redskins' blitz and tossed to Tony Hill, who made a finger-tip catch despite tight coverage and Dallas took the lead 35-34 with 0:39 on the clock. The Redskins were able to move the ball into Dallas territory after the kcikoff, but time ran out before Mark Mosely could attempt a 59-yard field goal. Making matters worse for Washington, a Chicago victory over St.Louis eliminated them from a Wild Card berth, sending them into the offseason with a 10-6 third-place record. Dallas finished first via tie breakers with Philadelphia, but was upset by Los Angeles in their Divisional Round Playoff 21-19. 

The 1982 season was an unusual one. The NFL players strike shortened the regular season to nine games. Some of the consequences were the divisions were eliminated, and the top eight teams from each conference were invited into a single elimination tournament. Consider the fact that the Week 5 meeting between Dallas and Washington (their only one of the season, the game in Dallas had been wiped from the schedule) game of the season took place on December 5th! The Cowboys won convincingly, 24-10, for their sixth in a row over the Redksins. However, that was Washington's only loss of the season. They finished atop the reformatted NFC at 8-1 while Dallas was right behind them in second place at 6-3. Both teams won their first and second round playoff games at home, and set the stage for the NFC Title Game at RFK Stadium. The raucous crowd shook the stadium as Riggins and the Redskins rolled to a 14-3 lead halftime lead. Dallas had lost starting quarterback Danny White to a concussion, but backup Gary Hogeboom settled in and played well, throwing two touchdown passes around a Riggins score, closing the gap to 21-17 entering the fourth quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, Hogeboom lead the Cowboys into Redskins territory again, but kicker Raphiel Septien missed a 42-yard field goal attempt. The Dallas defense held and forced a punt, Washington made a break with an interception of a Hogeboom pass intended for Tony Hill on the sideline. The Cowboys defense held again, forcing the Redskins to settle for a Mosley field goal to open the lead to seven points, but the outcome was still in doubt. Following the kickoff, one first down from the 20, Hogeboom dropped back to set up a screen pass to Tony Dorsett. Defensive end Dexter Manley read the play, tipped the ball up where it was intercepted by defensive tackle Darryl Grant who caught the ball at the 10, broke a tackle at the 5, then scored for a 31-17 lead. Although 6:55 remained, the Cowboys never threatened again. Washington went on to defeat Maimi in Super Bowl XVII the following week for their first Super Bowl victory and first NFL Championship since the Sammy Baugh era.

Over the next thirty years, the Cowboys and Redskins would meet again, twice a year, but with never as much on the line as that NFC Championship tilt.  In 1990, 1996, 2002 and earlier this year, they met in Dallas on Thanksgiving.  A couple years ago they met in a memorable opening Sunday night game in September 2010 that came down to the final play.

Tonight's winner-take-all matchup certainly has the potential to recall many of these historic moments. Robert Griffin III and Tony Romo have the opportunity to join the likes of Jurgensen, Kilmer, Morton, Theisman and Staubach with a come-from-behind win and an NFC Eastern Division title, and keep their hopes alive for the ultimate goal, a trip to Super Bowl XLVII.

Week 16 Weekly Uniform Rankings

We at the Gridiron Uniform Database hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and we all would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Happy 2013!

#16. Raiders-Panthers: OAK in white/silver, CAR in black/silver. If it weren't for the touch of blue on the Panthers, this would resemble an inter-squad game. As such, this is a bit of a dullard for me. This is one of the more lackluster matchups for the season, sorry to say.

#15. Patriots-Jaguars: NE in white/silver, JAX in black/black. The Jaguars miss a beautiful opportunity when they switched to the all black look. This game would have been a real good matchup. But then...well, never mind. Sorry, Pats. You deserve better.

#14. Giants-Ravens: NYG in white/gray, BAL in alternate black/black. It took the Ravens until Week 16 to bust out the all black uni. Wish it would have been until Week 36. I'm not a fan of all black. Much prefer purple/black for the Ravens. Working against the Giants white and gray with red as the dominant trim color, it was a missed opportunity. 

#13. Bills-Dolphins: BUF in blue/white, MIA in white/white. Lots of white, one jersey, two helmets, two sets of pants. So with that in mind, we have to look at the trim colors. And they do help out. A bit. orange, red, aqua, blue does provide a good mix of secondary colors to the white's utter dominance here.

#12. Chargers-Jets: SD in white/navy, NYJ in green/white. Good looking game, not great. Could have stood to see the Jets in all green, but after being shamed by the Patriots on Thanksgiving night in that get-up, maybe the Jets thought it a good idea to park that combo.

#11. Colts-Chiefs: IND in white/white, KC in red/white. Colts in the staid but true all white with all blue trim and the Chiefs in the staid but true red jerseys and white pants. No surprises, but there doesn't have to be here. 

#10. Falcons-Lions: ATL in white/white, DET in honolulu blue/silver. Falcons in the blah all white combo, but that is offset by the Lions eternally smooth shade of blue and the silver with the hint of black. Falcons red trim does do this one a little bit of justice.

#9. Bears-Cardinals: CHI in white/navy, ARZ in red/white. Decades ago, these two were crosstown rivals. These colors hearken back to those long ago days. Very bright matchup, with the navy, red, white, and tastes of orange and black. 

#8. Bengals-Steelers: CIN in white/black, PIT in black/yellow. A lot of black to be sure, but the orange and yellow make up for that some. If the Bengals would have rocked their orange socks here, that would have really perked this one up.

#7. Browns-Broncos:  CLE in white/white, DEN in orange/white. Did you ever think I'd say something like "too much orange??" Well, there is plenty of it here. But really, I'm not complaining. Brown and dark blue act as trim colors and it's refreshing to see a very unusual combo of trim colors supplementing orange as a dominant color. 

#6. Titans-Packers: TEN in white/light blue, GB in green/yellow. This is actually a rather a jarring matchup. A very modern-like look in the Titans various shades of blue against a very traditional Packer uniform. As such, it's a beauty.

#5. Saints-Cowboys: NO in black/gold, DAL in white/mint. After 11 straight games in the black pants, the Saints revert to the gold pants. It works well here. Metallic colors work well, even if they don't align properly on their own teams. Good job, guys.

#4. Redskins-Eagles: WSH in white/yellow. PHI in green/white. You gotta give the NFC East bunch some credit. They have a load of diverse colors. With this game, it means that the Redskins will have shelved the burgundy pants for the entire 2012 season. And here, that isn't really a bad thing at all. Eagles green plays well on the Redskins garb.

#3. Vikings-Texans: MIN in all white, HOU in dark blue/white. This is a rather nice array of color. Purple, yellow, blue, red. A nice spectrum, even if conservatively used.

#2. 49ers-Seahawks: SF in white/gold, SEA in navy/navy. A traditional/contemporary matchup. The Seahawks feature one of the better dark/dark looks in the NFL and going against the gold shades of the Niners with the bright red trim on the white jersey, this is very much an eye pleaser.

#1. Rams-Buccaneers: STL in white/dark blue. TB in red/pewter. This is a sweet one. Just one instance of white, the Rams' jerseys. Then you have red, blue, pewter. And a little gold and a little black. A good mixture of color. Thumbs up!

The "Super Sundays" That Could Have Been...31-35

Did we get the best-looking match-up or was that pairing kept from us? 

We continue this journey down memory lane and see.

1996 (XXXI) - New England (AFC) vs Green Bay (NFC)
ACTUAL: Not bad, but this version of the Patriots' jersey with "Flying Elvis" on the shoulders - instead of the sleeves, is REALLY bad.
ALTERNATE: Having the Patriots in blue jerseys makes "Elvis" stand out less. That would have been a good thing.

Which Super Bowl XXXI combo do you prefer?
pollcode.com free polls 

1997 (XXXII) - Green Bay (NFC) vs. Denver (AFC)
ACTUAL: I've never had a problem with this redesign of the Broncos' uniform. I just wish they'd have kept the old logo or at least something else.
ALTERNATE: I like it but having a chance to go without monowhite, I'm going to go with it.

Which Super Bowl XXXII combo do you prefer?
pollcode.com free polls 

1998 (XXXIII) - Denver (AFC) vs Atlanta (NFC)
ACTUAL: Well, Denver at the Raiders...oops...I mean Falcons. The Black and Silver do little to help Denver's monowhite.
ALTERNATE: The blue. The red. Oh, so much  better.

Which Super Bowl XXXIII combo do you prefer?
pollcode.com free polls 

1999 (XXXIV) - St. Louis (NFC) vs. Tennessee (AFC)
ACTUAL: Either way, we were going to get a lot of blue in this game.
ALTERNATE: However, given a chance to get Tennessee in navy pants (which I really miss) AND get St. Louis in the blue jerseys, I'd have jumped at the chance.

Which Super Bowl XXXIV combo do you prefer?
pollcode.com free polls 

2000 (XXXV) - Baltimore (AFC) vs. N.Y. Giants (NFC)
ACTUAL: With Baltimore advancing to this game wearing monowhite in both the Divisional and championship rounds, wearing all white here makes sense.
ALTERNATE: But throwing in some red and a little more purple makes this the option to go with.

Which Super Bowl XXXV combo do you prefer?
pollcode.com free polls 

Well, well, well. With a 4-1 triumph this week, is ALTERNATE beginning a comeback or are they simply making it interesting? The gap has closed to a 22-13 lead for the ACTUALs. Will this trend continue next week? Be here next Tuesday to find out!
Bill Schaefer 

A GUD Blog Extra: Another look at a Super Sunday That Could Have Been

About a month or two ago, as our Bill Schaefer was wrapping up his wonderful blog series, "If Then Was Now" (or "If Now Was Then" or whatever it was about the 1940s concepts)... I suggested we continue it through the rest of the season by having people vote for which concepts they liked best in a series of head-to-head matchups, with the concepts competing with each other for Divisional Titles and Wild Cards and eventually concluding with a "Super Bowl" of the best 1940s-ish concepts meeting right around time of the actual Super Bowl in February.  However Bill and Tim overrulled me on that and suggested we go with a new blog series that Bill had been planning, "Super Sundays That Could Have Been", which you all have been enjoying for the past five weeks.

Although I hated to abandon my 1940s concepts tournament idea (perhaps we'll revisit that another time), I looked forward to this new blog series.  For me one of the greatest disappointments of Super Bowl history, as far as uniforms go, (besides that Super Bowls X and XIII looked identical -- same cities, same teams -- although X was daytime on astroturf on CBS and XIII was nighttime on grass on NBC -- one game should have seen Dallas wear blue, just so it would have been opposite of the other, IMO.) was that in Super Bowl XXIX, the NFL's 75th Anniversary season, when every team wore a throwback uniform of some sort, the Chargers did not wear their iconic powder blue throwbacks, or at least the white road version of it.  San Francisco was so successful that season that they even adopted their throwback full time and wore it in the Super Bowl, and continued to wear it in the following seasons.

The Chargers powder blue throwback, in fact, is one iconic throwback jersey that people love to see and the team has even adopted a powder blue alternate in recent years.  When Bill started this series, the Super Bowl wrong that I was most excited to see rectified was that the Chargers didn't wear their throwback.  Imagine my dismay when the blog came out this week without it as one of the choices.  Bill chose to just stick with the worn combo and the opposite home-and-away versions of those combos, eschewing any other additional choices and/or color-vs-color opportunities, etc.

So to rectify that here is a "bonus" poll for you.... eight additional combo choices for Super Bowl XXIX, (including a color-vs-color all-throwback matchup) so we can truly see which matchup would have been most preferred.  Now we can truly see which Super Bowl XXIX combo might have looked the best.

Which Super Bowl XXIX combo do you prefer?
pollcode.com free polls 

(Boy that, powder blue vs. throwback red is just screaming "Pick Me!", isn't it?)

Week 15 Weekly Uniform Rankings

For the first time in a couple of seasons, we have a color vs color matchup. We also have a second week of the wearin' of the Hall of Fame 50th Anniversary patches.

On the whole, I happen to think this week was - top to bottom - perhaps the best one of the season. 

#16) Jaguars-Dolphins: JAX in black/white, MIA in mono white. Had the Jags went all black, this might have been the thumbs down matchup of the season. But they salvage a little something with the white britches, which gives this matchup a flicker of life. Just a flicker.

#15) Buccaneers-Saints: TB in white/pewter, NO in all black. Hmph. No TB white pants, again. Tsk. No NO gold pants, again. So this was - in a sense - predictable. If one change could have brought this one to the fold, it would have been the Saints in gold pants. That would have been an awesome play of the mteals at work. No gold, no go to this matchup.

#14) Panthers-Chargers: CAR in all white, SD in navy/white. Just not feeling love for this one. Not sure why. They are good uniforms on their own, but together, it doesn't mesh. The Panthers in all white and baby blue socks, the Chargers in navy with white pants aand navy socks. Put 'em together and it adds up to meh.

#13) Broncos-Ravens: DEN in all white, BAL in purple/white. Ravens should have gone purple/black in this one. Would have given this matchup a little life. Instead, we have a bounty of white that relegates some vibrant colors like gold and orange to a trim status. But one question: Why no HOF patch on the Ravens' jerseys??

#12) Vikings-Rams: MIN in white/white, STL in blue/blue. Rams have gone all season wearing blue pants with blue jerseys. I find that just a little peculiar. But it does work in this one, against the Vikes in white. Gold and yellow as supporting trim colors.

#11) Colts-Texans: IND in white/white, HOU in navy/white. Colts in that oh so white look, with the Texans in modern navy with a hint of red trim. For whatever reason, this is a pleasant look to me, when I think early this season, I would have said, "yuck."

#10) Bengals-Eagles: CIN in white/black, PHI in green/white. The season's last Thursday nighter features some - but not a lot - of color. Some green, orange and a good bit of black. Glad the Bengals broke out the black pants. Made this a very good matchup.

#9) Giants-Falcons: NYG in white/gray, ATL in red/white. A lot of red, but a lot to like. Red is used very nicely here. The right amount of blue and black, as helmet colors. Sweet pairings at work.

#8) Steelers-Cowboys: PIT in black/yellow, DAL in white/mint. Ahh, Steelers-Cowboys, three Super Bowls were played with these two in almost exactly the same look. It does hold up well. The colors evoke titan epic battles, with some sweet colors. A winner, then and now.

#7) 49ers-Patriots: SF in white/gold, NE in navy/silver. Metallurgy at work. Gold and silver, or as Burl Ives sang it a long time ago, "Silver and Gold." Plus the red trin on the Niners and the predominant navy of the Patriots. One of a number of good matchups this week.

#6) Chiefs-Raiders: KC in white/red, OAK in black/silver. This uni matchup goes back decades, and it's just as good as ever. This is a prime example of when good looks come together, they become even better. No, not the glory days of this rivalry (definitely not!), but still it looks mighty fine.

#5) Jets-Titans: NYJ in white/green, TEN in two-tone blue. Oddish pairing of color, but a boss one. The green pants worn by the Jets really pumps this one. I think this is my favorite uni combo worn by the Jets and against the columbia/navy of the Titans, it's a spot on fit.

#4) Lions-Cardinals: DET in white/silver, ARZ in red/white. OK, I am over my snit about the Cardinals shelving the red pants for 2012. And so, without pretense, this is actually a pretty fair matchup. The cardinal red goes smoothly up against the silver and honolulu blue. And, yes, the white pants work better than the red pants would have.

#3) Seahawks-Bills: SEA in gray/gray, BUF in blue/white. Played in Toronto, this game features the first time for the Seahawks in the "wolf" gray jerseys going against the Bills in that vibrant blue jersey. I happen to like it. A good shade of gray, that wolf. This works great against the Bills with the blue and just the right amount of red, as well as they green and navy trim of the Seahawks. Thumbs up, eh?

#2) Redskins-Browns: WSH in white/yellow, CLE in brown/white. Biy, do these two bring out the best in each other's looks. The color is great. Burgundy, yellow, orange, brown. Late autumn in all its brilliance. One of the better ones for Week 15.

#1) Packers-Bears: GB in white/yellow, CHI in throwback navy/white. Sweet! Y'know, when the Bears really did wear this gear, the Packers usually also wore navy jerseys as well! But that's ancient history. The Bears throwbacks work well and they remove the "C" from the helmet to give it more...old-timiness. Packers in one of the nicest white jerseys there is. Great matchup.

A Head-to-Head History: Week 15 Vikings - Rams

Editors's Note -- here is Larry Schmitt with a look back at last week's Rams-Vikings matchup, due to errors on my part, it didn't get published right away:

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I'd like to open this morning with a "Namaste" to all my neighbor's in Sandy Hook and Newtown, Connecticut. This has been a profoundly sad 48 hours here in Western Connecticut. I live in nearby New Milford (where my son's high school was on lock-down for 2 1/2 hours Friday) and work in neighboring Bethel. I spent 11 weekends over 2010 completing my 200-hour yoga teacher training at the Graceful Planet studio in Sandy Hook, which is right down the hill from the Sandy Hook Elementary School, and adjacent to a day care facility. Among the many thoughts I've had as I process all the images and stories I've been absorbing since Friday morning are, how many of those children whose artwork I saw on display during that time were present Friday at that moment? I have many friends and co-workers who live in Sandy Hook and Newtown who have children that currently attend or have recently attended S.H.E.S. I know they recognize their good fortune, with their loved ones having been out of harms way, but the grief for those who were not is sincerely shared by the entire community.

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A forgotten rivalry.

This week's look back will be a little different than most. It's going to have a more narrowed focus on a specific period, but I believe there is good reason for it.

After looking at the NFC Playoff picture Monday the Week 15 schedule had a game that jumped right off the page at me: Minnesota at St. Louis. That might be puzzling at first, after all, both teams are probably long shots to qualify for the post season. However, there was a time when the Vikings and Rams dominated the NFC - along with Dallas - and had one of the fiercest non-divisional rivalries over the NFL's history. Between the years 1969 - 1979 Minnesota and the Los Angeles Rams competed for the NFL or NFC Title eight times, including twice against one another. There were three additional Divisional games between them as well. The Vikings had the upper hand most of the time, compiling a 4-1 win-loss record over Los Angeles, but the games were closely contested and bitterly fought. The teams had similar styles as well, ground oriented offenses and household names on defense like Merlin Olsen, Alan Page, Deacon Jones and Jim Marshall. Best of all, the Rams and Vikings played their games outdoors on grass fields in all kinds of weather, they were still a generation away from morphing into teams that filled domes with arcing spirals.

It all started in 1969, the final season before the AFL-NFL merger.

On Week 12 the "Purple People Eaters"  met the "Fearsome foursome" as 10-1 Minnesota (who hadn't lost since opening day) traveled to the Los Angeles Coliseum to visit the 11-0 Rams. The Vikings rode their rushing attack to build a 17-3 halftime lead, then held off the come back attempt by QB Roman Gabriel's offense. The 20-13 loss sent the Rams into a tailspin that saw George Allen's team finish 11-3. Bud Grant's squad was only marginally better, squeaking by San Francisco 10-7 before losing to Atlanta at home. Neither team was challenged for their respective division title however, so the stage was set for the NFL Divisional Playoff.

12/27/69 NFL Divisional Playoff: MIN 23 vs LAR 20
Late December in Minnesota's Metropolitan Stadium was far from the ideal location for a southern California team, but early on the Rams did not seem affected by the 21-degree temperature. Ram QB Gabriel moved the ball well in the first half, leading three scoring drives and a fourth that ended with a 38-yard field goal attempt sailing wide in the wind chill. Joe Kapp could only lead his team to a touchdown, leaving the halftime score 17-7.

The Viking defense held the Rams to a punt on their first possession of the third quarter, and Kapp capitalized with a deep completion to Gene Washington. Dave Osborne finished the drive with a one-yard plunge, cutting the lead to 17-14. Two Kapp interceptions thereafter proved costly for Minnesota. The first occurred deep in Los Angeles territory and kept the Vikings off the scoreboard. The second was on his own side of the 50 and lead to a Ram field goal, extending the Ram lead to 20-14. He made up for it in the fourth quarter. Kapp put together a 65-yard drive that started with three pass completions and ended with a two-yard keeper for a touchdown to give the vikings their first lead 21-20 with just over eight minutes to play. The Peuple People eaters lived up to their billing as soon as they took the field. Carl Eller sacked Gabriel in the end zone for a safety, extending the lead to 23-20. the Fearsome foursome held Minnesota's offense though, and got the ball back to NFL MVP Gabriel one more time. He valiantly advanced his team into Minnesota territory, but was intercepted by Alan Page with 31 seconds remaining. Minnesota defeated Cleveland the following week for the NFL Title, but lost to Kansas City in Super Bowl IV.
Minnesota won three more from the Rams between 1970 - 1973. The following season would see the next post seaosn meeting, which also had a regular season prelude.

12/29/74 NFC Championship: MIN 14 vs LAR 10
The Rams, now coached by Chuck Knox and quarterbacked by James Harris, hosted the Vikings in Week 11 of the 1974 season. Fran Takenton passed and scrambled his team to a 17-6 lead after three quarters. The Los Angeles defense, lead by  Fred Dryer and Jack Youngblood, asserted itself in the final quarter. Harris lead two touchdown drives, scoring on a rush first, then passing to WR Jack snow for the second. the Rams come-from-behind win was their first against Minnesota since 1968. Both teams won the their divisions with 10-4 records and won their divisional round playoff games, setting up their first NFC Championship clash.

The game took place once again at frigid Metropolitan Stadium. The first quarter was a defensive stalemates. In the second period Tarkenton hit Jim lash for a 29-yard touchdown strike and the Rams responded with a field goal. The second half was a tense battle, with dramatic swings in momentum and fortune. A Viking punt pinned the Rams on their own one-yard line. After moving up-field, Harris hit WR Harold Jackson for a 73-yard gain to the Viking two, but the opportunity to go ahead was lost when a third down pass was intercepted in the end zone for a touch back. The Los Angeles drive covered 98 yards but yielded zero points.

The Vikings did not squander their opportunity however. A 15-play drive that consumed almost half the 4th quarter was completed by a Dave Osborn 4-yard touchdown run for a 14-3 lead. Harris brought the Rams back quickly however, hitting Jackson on another deep play, this time for 44-yards and the touchdown, making the score 14-10. Following an exchange of punts, Minnesota moved the chains with their rushing attack and expired the remaining 5:37 on the clock. The Vikings would then lose Super Bowl IX to Pittsburgh two weeks later.

The teams did not meet in the regular or post seasons in 1975, but 1976 saw another season where the NFC powers would battle twice. The Week 2 game in the LA Coliseum finished in a 10-10 tie, where the Vikings let a 10-0 4th quarter lead slip away. Niether team scored in the extra sudden-death period. Both teams went on to easily win their divisions - Minnesota at 11-2-1 and Los Angeles at 10-3-1. After winning their Divisional Round contests, the Vikings and Rams would meet again in the NFC Championship Game.

12/26/76 NFC Championship: MIN 24 vs LAR 13
 A frozen Metropolitan Stadium was again the setting for the Vikings - Rams showdown. Despite the 19-degree kickoff temperature, the Rams again started off well. QB Pat Haden drove his team deep into Minnesota territory, mostly by handing off to HB Lawrence McClutcheon, before disaster struck. The Vikings defense was stout on their goal line, stuffing the Rams offense. On second down a reverse was stopped inches short of the end zone. On third down Haden was stopped on a sneak attempt. On fourth-and-goal Tom Dempsey's 17-yard FG attempt was blocked by Nate Allen and the ball bounced right to Bobby Bryant who sprinted 90 yards for a 7-0 lead. Los Angeles seemed deflated and fell behind 17-0 in the third quarter, but climbed back into the contest with back-to-back touchdowns that cut the lead to 17-13 (one extra point failed) entering the fourth quarter. Both defenses clamped down until Haden started a drive late in the game. On a fourth-and-ten at the Minnesota 39, Haden launched a deep pass toward WR Ron Jessie who was initially open near the end zone, but S Bryant came across the field and made a spectacular interception, practically taking the ball from Jessie's hands with only 2:40 left. Tarkenton quickly lead the Vikings to a touchdown to ice the game and send the Vikings to their fourth Super Bowl. Unfortunately they again lost, this time to Oakland.
Nobody can blame the Rams for feeling confident heading into their 1977 Division Playoff against their tormentors from Minnesota. In the regular season they flexed their muscles in a 35-3 whipping, star QB Fran Tarkenton was out with a broken leg and the game would be played in sunny Southern California instead of frigid Minnesota. The sun didn't shine on the Rams, figuratively and literally.

12/26/77 NFC Divisional Playoff: MIN 14 @ LAR 7

Three consecutive days of heavy rain turned the grass field of the LA Coliseum into a quagmire. Five minutes into the first quarter any spectator would have no idea the Vikings were wearing their road white jerseys or the Rams their home royal blue. Both were heavily caked with turf and smeared with mud making number identification almost impossible.

Viking coach Grant surprised the Rams with a pass heavy opening drive. Stand-in Bob Lee completed five in a row. A five yard rush by Foreman finished the drive and just like the Minnesota was ahead 7-0.  

It comes as no surprise that both teams struggled to move the ball in those bog-like conditions. They each had only 14 first downs, and Lee finished the day 0-5 passing after that first drive. The best thing that went Minnesota's was was ball security. They did not turn the ball over while their defense had three interceptions of Haden. 

After extending the lead to 14-0 early in the fourth quarter, Minnisota called 28 consecutive rushing plays, keeping the clock moving and the Ram offense on the sideline. Los Angeles did score late to make the score 14-7 but Lee ran out the clock with three kneel-downs after Haden's final desperation pass was intercepted. Foreman had a 101-yard effort int eh win for the Vikings and DE Alan Page was a force on defense with a sack and many pressures forcing Haden into errant throws. Minnesota lost the NFC Championship Game in Dallas the following week.

12/31/78 NFC Divisional Playoff: MIN 10 @ LAR  34

The Rams revenge was thorough in 1978, sweeping Minnesota handily in both games that year.
The Week 6 game in 45 degree Minnesota actually saw the Vikings carry a 17-13 lead intot he 4th quarter, but the visitors erupted into a 21 poitn barrage for the runaway 34-17 win. 

That momentum seemed to carry through the rest of the regular season. The Rams took the West title with a he Vikings sputtered to an 8-7-1 Central Division tie with Chicago. The Vikings battled the Rams to a 10-10 halftime tie, but Grant's aging squad wore down the second half, gaining only 59 yards of offense, as the Rams cruised to a 34-10 win. The Rams were foiled at home in the NFC Championship game 28-0 at the hands of Dallas.

In 1979 Los Angeles would not meet the Vikings, who slumped to the third place 7-9 record, but did finally reach their first Super Bowl, but lost a competitive game to Pittsburgh.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Vikings and Rams would renew their post season rivalry after the 1988 and 1999 season, but in far different environs - the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and the TWA Dome respectively and with teams that relied heavily on the passing game. The 1988 Vikings won their Divisional contest  28-17 but lost the NFC Championship in Washington.  The St. Louis Rams defeated the Vikings in the Divisional round 49-37 (what would George Allen or Chuck Knox think of a score like that?) on their way to the franchise's first Super Bowl Title. 

Well, Sunday the Rams and Vikings faced off again, and it looked nothing like those classic battles of the 1970s.  The Rams wearing a monochrome blue, and the Vikings wearing road whites in the new post-2006 style.  Both teams are still alive for the postseason, although the Rams are an extreme long shot at best, now at 6-7-1 after losing 36 to 22.  The Vikings are right in the thick of the Wild Card battle at 8-6, and with Adrian Peterson (a Viking) trying to break the single season rushing record of Eric Dickerson (a Ram), the season still has some excitement left in store for Vikings fans.

The "Super Sundays" That Could Have Been...26-30

With the first 25 editions in the books, let's jump right in to games 26-30.

1991 (XXVI) - Washington (NFC) vs. Buffalo (AFC)
ACTUAL: A great combination. The Skins were on a roll this season and looked good as the away team in their traditional home garb.

ALTERNATE: Growing up watching the 'Skins in white at home at RFK, I've never liked the burgundy for them.

Which Super Bowl XXVI combo do you prefer?
pollcode.com free polls 

1992 (XXVII) - Buffalo (AFC) vs. Dallas (NFC)
ACTUAL: Is it fair to have back-to-back games with the same teams in the same combos? When it looks this good, yeah, it's OK, even with the Cowboys sartorial idiosyncrasies.  I think the Bills just fumbled again!

ALTERNATE: Um...no. Alone in a vacuum, I love the Cowboys road combos much more than the home versions. If only Buffalo wasn't monowhite, this would have clearly been the winner.

Which Super Bowl XXVII combo do you prefer?
pollcode.com free polls 

1993 (XXVIII) - Dallas (NFC) vs. Buffalo (AFC)
ACTUAL: I'm having the strangest feeling of deja vu.

ALTERNATE: I'm having the strangest feeling of deja vu.

Which Super Bowl XXVII combo do you prefer?
pollcode.com free polls 

1994 (XXIX) - San Diego (AFC) vs. San Francisco (NFC)
ACTUAL: In keeping with the throwback theme from the NFL's 75th Anniversary season, San Francisco, which wore their throwbacks for the majority of the season, wore them here.

ALTERNATE: Assuming they still would have worn them if they had been the road team, we would have seen this. There's just not as much color splashed into this hypothetical pairing.

Which Super Bowl XXIX combo do you prefer?
pollcode.com free polls 

1995 (XXX) - Dallas (NFC) vs. Pittsburgh (AFC)
ACTUAL: Dallas gets their third win in four years with this combo thanks to the Bills and now Neil O'Donnell.

ALTERNATE: However, had Dallas been able to wear the 'fauxback' jerseys...oh, what could have been!

Which Super Bowl XXX combo do you prefer?
pollcode.com free polls 

Not to sound like a broken record again, but it appears to have become a habit with the ACTUALs grabbing 4 of the 5 meetings.  This puts them ahead of the ALTERNATES by a   21-9 advantage.

Hope is not lost, though. Don't tell anyone but I've peaked ahead at the next segment and...sniff, sniff...I smell a comeback brewing!

Bill Schaefer


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