Redskins-Cowboys: A rivalry on life support

WASHINGTON — Immediately after the Redskins beat the Titans last Sunday, I caught myself referencing the week ahead as “Dallas Week” in one of my sportscasts. I didn’t do so for long.

It was factually accurate, so that wasn’t the problem. The problem was, as I thought to myself, “Who cares anymore?”

This line of questioning has been prevalent all week on local sports talk radio and in print. And it’s a question worth asking.

Personally, this might be the first time I haven’t cared all that much about a Redskins/Cowboys tilt on the horizon. I grew up a ‘Skins fan, and, in addition to this being the most apathetic I’ve felt toward a given Redskins season, the rivalry with Dallas hasn’t really been much of one for most of the last 15 years. Entering tonight, Dallas is 21-9 against the Dan Snyder-led ‘Skins.

Yet die-hard fans and the television networks still seem to be living in 1983: 11 of the last 19 Redskins/Cowboys matchups have made it to primetime. The last time we went a whole season without a ‘Skins/’Boys game under the lights was 2007.

This is despite the Redskins and Cowboys not really having played each other for anything meaningful for most of the last 30 years. We can list the games that really mattered between these two teams in the last decade off the top of our heads: the season finale in 2012 to decide the NFC East winner, and the ‘Skins’ 35-7 romp in Week 15 of 2005 that led to a Wild Card berth.

That’s it. That’s the list.

Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post did a great job of pointing out that the rivalry’s death has been rumored for years, many times just before a renewal of the rivalry. So maybe we’re currently in the middle of a valley just before the rivalry peaks again.

But right now, it’s a far cry from more recent division rivalries of note such as Seahawks/49ers or Ravens/Steelers. Or conference rivalries such as Patriots/Colts. (Hell, at this point, it’s more like Patriots/Bills.) This meeting is too early to matter, and given each team’s record (the Redskins are a putrid 2-5 while the Cowboys are in first place at 6-1), their Week 17 rematch likely won’t determine who makes the playoffs.

Thus, the answer is simple: The rivalry is on life support. It’s not time to pronounce it dead, but it’s far from being considered alive and well. This patient is touch and go.

So while the Redskins strive for their first Monday Night win since December 2012 — and their first in Dallas since the Monday Night Miracle of 2005 — D.C. sports fans will recoil in fear that the ‘Skins’ current trend of just three wins in their last 20 primetime games continues.

And one of the oldest and most storied rivalries ambles on in the flickering hope that it will again be truly relevant.

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