The only true believers wore burgundy and gold Sunday. The only people who thought the Washington Redskins had a chance against the Dallas Cowboys were on the south sideline at RFK Stadium, players and coaches united in an unlikely quest. And the Redskins' 27-23 upset victory over Dallas before 55,489 frenzied fans was theirs and theirs alone to enjoy and savor.
It was a day of big plays and emotion, and hanging on at the end for the Redskins, who were 13-point underdogs coming in. Running back Terry Allen provided a clinic in running between the tackles, finishing with 121 yards in 30 carries rushing behind a bruising offensive line. Allen, individually, and the collective line received game balls.
Washington's defense held Dallas running back Emmitt Smith to 95 yards in 22 carries. The Redskins also got a break when quarterback Troy Aikman went out on the opening series because of a strained right calf and didn't return. Aikman is expected to be sidelined two to three weeks.
"There's a lot of guys with a lot of pride in that locker room," Washington Coach Norv Turner said. "It may not have been a great rivalry over the last three games but it is a great rivalry, and I think that was proven today."
Despite its relative success with Smith, Washington was still gasping at the wire. But the Redskins persevered, with Tom Carter picking off a Wade Wilson bomb at the Washington 21-yard-line with four seconds left to seal the victory.
"People counted us out," linebacker Ken Harvey said. "We knew what type of team we had, but it's good to finally put it on paper. If you know the answers to a quiz, it doesn't mean anything until you finally get it done."
The Redskins were lucky Sunday. They didn't lose any of three fumbles, and two potential Dallas interceptions were dropped. And television replays indicated that Allen was out of bounds before scoring on a five-yard touchdown pass from Gus Frerotte late in the first half that gave Washington a 20-10 halftime lead.
But they were also quite good. From the opening play of the game --an incomplete bomb to Michael Westbrook--the Redskins attacked Dallas' defense. They picked on Cowboy linebackers and on the Dallas cornerbacks in the middle of the field. Their defense was not pushed up and down the field.
"It all starts up front," said Allen, who already has 461 yards rushing in five games. "No matter what those guys know on the other side, if our guys up front do what they're supposed to do, we're going to get positive yardage. They were talking more in the huddle than Gus was. But that's good when those guys get fired up like that."
Frerotte completed 13 of 24 passes for 192 yards. Wilson was 21 for 29 for 224 yards with one touchdown and one interception.