Texas Stadium - Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
The Redskins couldn’t have written the script any better. They held a 16-3 lead in the third quarter. Dave Robinson’s vicious hit had knocked starting quarterback Roger Staubach out of the game. The Dallas backup was a rookie from Abilene Christian who, by his own admission, was “a little scared” when he entered the game, his first regular season NFL appearance. A happy ending, a Thanksgiving Day win in Texas Stadium and the playoff berth that would be clinched with a victory, appeared to be a certainty.
That rookie quarterback, however, had other ideas. He threw for over 200 yards and two touchdowns in less than a half of work. His second touchdown pass was the killer, a 50-yard bomb in the game’s last minute that lifted the Cowboys over the Redskins. Since that quarterback’s name makes many Redskins fans physically ill, with memories of a ruined turkey dinner, his name will not be mentioned until the end of this account.
The Redskins held a 9-3 halftime lead thanks to three Mark Moseley field goals. The visitors stretched the lead after Walt Garrison fumbled early in the third quarter and Robinson recovered for the Redskins at the Dallas 39. Seven plays later, Billy Kilmer threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Duane Thomas to make it 16-3.
After the ensuing kickoff, Staubach picked up a first down by scrambling for nine yards on second and seven from the Dallas 44. Roger the Dodger couldn’t quite elude Robinson, though, and suffered a concussion on the linebacker’s clean, hard hit. In came the backup quarterback, nicknamed the Mad Bomber.
“I thought the game was over when we knocked Staubach out,” said backup safety Ken Stone. So did almost everyone, except for the rookie quarterback.
He continued the drive that Staubach had kept alive, throwing 35 yards to Billy Joe DuPree for Dallas’ first touchdown of the game. The Mad Bomber then led another touchdown drive that ended with Garrison’s one-yard touchdown plunge that put Dallas on top 17-16 with just over a minute left in the third.
The Redskins roared back and retook the lead after Kilmer connected with Roy Jefferson for 38 yards and Thomas followed that up with a 19-yard touchdown run to make it 23-17.
Despite holding Dallas for much of the fourth quarter and recovering a fumble with 2:23 left, the Redskins had to put the ball back into the rookie’s hands one more time. After getting just barely six yards to convert a fourth and six at the Dallas 44, the quarterback watched as nickel back Stone did the one thing he wasn’t supposed to do—let a receiver get behind him. The receiver was Drew Pearson and Clint Longley threw a perfect bomb to complete the 50-yards touchdown pass with 28 seconds left to play.