It's Thanksgiving in the NFL, and the Washington Redskins are at the Dallas Cowboys. That alone gives football fans a lot to be thankful for. But if history is any indication, Thursday's outcome will favor the home team in this holiday matchup.
Believe it or not, the Redskins have never won in Dallas on Thanksgiving. In six visits to the Lone Star State, they have been shunned six times at the Cowboys' dinner table.
That's no way to treat a guest, but it's especially rude when a bench-warmer becomes the star of the day.
According to RedskinsHistorian.com's Mike Richman, Washington's most frustrating Thanksgiving loss occurred at Texas Stadium on Nov. 28, 1974. On that day, "the Redskins were victimized by a rookie quarterback who crafted the only moments of fame in his brief NFL career."
Clint Longley had nowhere near the skills of Washington's Robert Griffin III, but he stunned a national television audience by coming off the bench to lead Dallas to three second-half scoring drives en route to a 24-23 victory.
In a column he wrote for Redskins.com, Richman described how heated the rivalry became when Washington coach George Allen ordered defensive tackle Diron Talbert to put the fear of God in Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach.
Just days before the Thanksgiving affair, Talbert said:
If you knock (Staubach) out, you’ve got that rookie facing you. That’s one of our goals. If we do that, it’s great. He’s all they have.
According to Richman, "Talbert got his wish when a vicious hit by Redskins linebacker Dave Robinson forced Staubach out of the game." But it was Longley that got the last laugh.
Washington's last win on Thanksgiving came in 1973 when Allen's Redskins beat Detroit, 20-0, at Tiger Stadium. Thursday marks the first time in a decade that Washington has played on Turkey Day in Dallas. In 2002, the Cowboys escaped on their home turf with a 27-20 win.
Dallas fans rejoiced on four other Thanksgiving occasions between 1968 and 1996.
The final scores were:
1996: Cowboys 21, Redskins 10
1990: Cowboys 27, Redskins 17
1978: Cowboys 37, Redskins 10
1968: Cowboys 28, Redskins 20
Coincidentally, Washington has never hosted Dallas on Thanksgiving. For analysis of all six of the teams' meetings in Texas, please check out this column by Gary Najman of FootballNation.com.
The Cowboys have not been generous hosts, but perhaps things will be different for Washington in 2012.
Despite the Redskins' 4-6 record, they are still mathematically alive for an NFC wild-card berth. They also host Dallas (5-5) on Dec. 30 in a regular-season finale at FedExField. So, "to the winner goes the spoils."
A Redskins win would set up a road fight with the Giants on Dec. 3. New York, 6-4, hosts Green Bay Sunday night, so the defending Super Bowl champs could conceivably have a one-game lead over Washington heading into its Monday Night Football contest against the Skins in the Meadowlands.
The NFL and its television partners would certainly be ecstatic about that. But it'll be all for naught if Washington can't come away with its first Thanksgiving Day win in Dallas.
So glue yourself to your flat screen because there's nothing better than cheering on the Redskins when your family or guests are too stuffed to talk!
Happy Holidays to all.
Joe Versage is an NFL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He previously covered the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens as a television beat reporter. Follow him on Twitter at: @JoeVersage Takip et: @JoeVersage
Unless otherwise noted, all historical information is courtesy of Redskins.com and the National Football League.