IRVING, Texas – As the Cowboys focus on the offseason, training camp is still in sight.
Coming off two straight 8-8 seasons and three full seasons removed from the playoffs, the Cowboys have plenty of question marks surrounding them as they prepare for the 2013 season.
As we count down the days to camp, the writers of DallasCowboys.com will take a different question each day that is hovering over this team.
With 62 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on the reigning NFC champions and longstanding Dallas rival, the Washington Redskins:
62) Do the Cowboys Have What It Takes For Revenge On The Redskins?
With just more than five minutes remaining in overtime on Nov. 20, 2011, Dan Bailey smacked a 39-yard field goal through the uprights to lift the Cowboys to a 27-24 win against the Redskins at FedEx Field.
It was the Cowboys' sixty-second win against their hated rivals from Washington D.C. – tied the franchise's highest win total against any other team. As Cowboys fans neither need nor want reminding, the team did not improve on that mark in 2012. The Redskins, bolstered by rookie sensations Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris, swept Dallas for the first time since 2005 and just the second time since 1995.
To make things even more painful, the second dagger came on the last night of the 2012 season with the NFC East title and a playoff berth on the line. Two Morris touchdowns in the fourth quarter and one of the most boneheaded interceptions of Tony Romo's career sealed the Cowboys' fate and sent Washington into the postseason.
Heartbreak at the hands of the Giants or Eagles is a little more familiar in these parts. But it has to taste a little different coming from the Redskins, who the Cowboys hold an exemplary 27-15 record against since winning their third Super Bowl in 1992 – which includes an impressive 10-0 run between 1997 and 2002.
It'll be interesting to see how the renewed rivalry plays out, as the Cowboys and Redskins were somewhat mirror images of each other. Washington led the league in rushing thanks to Griffin and Morris, while its passing game was a pedestrian 20th. The Cowboys aired it out well enough to rank as the league's third-best passing game, but their awful ground game was a well-documented 31st in the NFL.
The hope around Valley Ranch has to be that a switch to the 4-3 defense, as well as the return of a litany of injured players, will help keep Griffin and Co. in check. Meanwhile, Washington spent two of its first three draft picks – and three of its seven overall picks – on defensive backs in hopes of revamping an atrocious secondary.
One thing is certain: the teams' first meeting isn't until Week 6, in Cowboys Stadium, and the return leg is three days before Christmas. So barring something unforeseen, the currently-injured Griffin will be at full strength and the matchup will be at full strength for the first time in quite a few years.
Ironically enough, the other team the Cowboys boast 62 wins against? The Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys hung 38 points on Philadelphia in both meetings of a season sweep, pushing the all-time record to 60-46 in Dallas' favor.
Knowing the way the NFL works, the Cowboys will probably sweep the Redskins only to drop both games to the Eagles, which happened as recently as 2011. But for the time being at least, the focus lies on the defending champions. [embedded_ad]
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 62:
- Speaking of the Redskins, how about the Cowboys' season opener against their northern foe in 1962? The game was a 35-35 shootout – one of just two ties the two teams have staged. Crazier still than the score was the performance of wideout Franklin Clarke. Clarke hauled in 10 passes for 241 yards to set the record for best opening day performance by a receiver.
- Another fun caveat involving Clarke's 1,043-yard, 14-touchdown 1962 season. In September of 1962, the Cowboys became the first NFL team to receive a penalty that resulted in points. Dallas quarterback Eddie LeBaron found Clarke for a 99-yard touchdown late in a game against Pittsburgh. However, offensive holding in the end zone resulted in a safety, which helped the Steelers to a 30-28 win.
- Tony Tolbert wore No. 62 for part of his Cowboys career, but we covered him way back at No. 92, as well. Long snapper Dale Hellestrae wore No. 62 and No. 70 during his 11-year Cowboys career.
- Hellestrae was acquired from, of all teams, the Buffalo Bills for a seventh round draft choice in 1990. He'd wind up as the Cowboys' long snapper for a decade, including three Super Bowl wins – two of which came against his old team.
- With the 62nd overall pick of the 1977 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected Tony Hill from Stanford. In a 10-year career, Hill compiled 479 receptions for 7,988 yards and 51 touchdowns – good enough for fourth, second and third, respectively in team history. Hill was a backup receiver and kick returner for the Cowboys' Super Bowl XII championship team.