Thom Loverro: No Thanksgiving game between Redskins, Cowboys more memorable than 1974

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,Thom Loverro

At 0-6, the Redskins have never had much luck against the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving, but none of the losses hurt more than the one in 1974.

That day, late Hall of Fame coach George Allen's team took a stunning 24-23 loss at the hands of unknown backup quarterback Clint Longley.

"I think that is the worst loss George Allen ever suffered," Ron McDole once told me in an interview for my book "Hail Victory," an oral history of the Redskins. "I don't think he ever recovered from that loss, because we had the game pretty well wrapped up, and it got away from us."

It was one of the painfully glorious moments of the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry and revealed one of the most significant contributing factors to that rivalry -- that many of the Redskins' players were from Texas.

Diron Talbert was a colorful character, a defensive tackle who was part of Allen's "Over The Hill Gang" that transformed the franchise in the early 1970s. He was a Texas boy who had to hear about the Cowboys at home during every offseason, so he jumped at the chance to take shots at Tom Landry's team every chance he could.

That Thanksgiving was no exception.

In the days leading up to the nationally televised game, Talbert declared the Redskins would try to knock Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach out of the game.

"If Staubach runs, you like to get a good shot at him and knock him out of the game," he told reporters. "You try to get a scrambling quarterback to scramble into the arms of somebody who is going to hurt him. If you knock him out, you got that rookie facing you. That's one of the goals. If we do that, it's great. He's all they have. They have no experienced quarterback."

That "rookie" -- Longley -- apparently didn't need much experience to become the Redskins' nightmare.

Leading 16-3, the Redskins did exactly what Talbert said: Linebacker Dave Robinson delivered a nasty shot that sent Staubach off the field. In came Longley for his first NFL game. All he did was throw for more than 200 yards and two touchdowns, including a 50-yard game-winning toss to Drew Pearson with just 28 seconds left.

In defeat, Talbert gave reporters one of the most memorable quotes in Redskins history.

"My locker was right next to Talbert's, and after the game, when reporters came in, they couldn't wait to get to Talbert," McDole said. "They asked him, 'What do you think of Clint Longley?' And Talbert asked, 'Who the hell is that?'?"

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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