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Happy New Year and greetings from The Booth!
It’s the first VFB of 2024, and for fans of the Washington football franchise, it’s Dallas Week, as another dismal campaign for the Burgundy and Gold comes to an end. When I think of Dallas Week and the twice-per-season meeting with the hated Cowboys, I think of the great moments of this storied rivalry (some not so great, but still memorable): The two NFC Championship wins against Dallas in the 1972 and 1982 seasons, Ken Houston stopping Walt Garrison at the goal line to preserve a Monday Night victory in 1973, the “Monday Night Miracle” with “Cowboy Killer” Santana Moss, RG3 putting it to the Cowpokes in 2012, and the list goes on. Yes, even the improbable Thanksgiving Day 1974 Cowboy comeback with one-hit wonder Clint Longley is on my list of memorable Dallas-Washington games.
But today’s upcoming game with Dallas in the season finale has got to be one of the strangest for me. There’s nothing I like better than seeing my Skins (yes, this is what I call them) beat “America’s Team,” no matter the circumstance. Even a meaningless game, like last year’s season-ending 26-6 win at Fed-Ex Field was a cherry on the p**p sundae for me.
This Sunday, there is actually a lot on the line for both teams. The Cowboys can win the NFC East with a win this afternoon. For Washington’s long-term benefit, it would be more advantageous to lose today to Dallas. A loss potentially gives them a number two pick in the upcoming draft. So, who and what do I root for? It is almost sacrilege to want the Cowboys to beat my beloved team, but it’s what would be best for the future of the Washington franchise. I guess the perfect scenario for me would be a competitive effort by the Burgundy & Gold resulting in a 35-33 defeat. A moral victory on the field, but an actual one off the field (my apologies to Bruce Allen).
It would be “so Washington,” however, to somehow win this otherwise meaningless game, put the short-term screws to Dallas, and the long-term screws to themselves. A fitting way to end the Ron Rivera era. Today’s contest almost surely will be the last for the Riverboat, and a win would give him an overall .500 record, counting his stint in Carolina. This afternoon’s finale might even be the final game that Rivera coaches in the NFL as a head coach, so today’s game does have some meaning for him. He wants to win, as a final bird-flip to the haters.
Riverboat Ron’s legacy in DC will be one of failed personnel decisions, bad game management, and a posture of being almost disconnected on game day. I’m not going to beat that horse anymore. Yes, he did add some stability to an organization whose toxic culture under Dan Snyder made the team an NFL pariah. That is far outweighed by his on and off the field management. It’s now time for new owner Josh Harris to put his stamp on the team.
So, enjoy today’s game, and don’t get too worked up about the loss to Dallas. Tell yourself it’s for the good of the team. And if you look carefully at about 7:45, you’ll be able to see a Riverboat churning down the Potomac and out of Washington…
Until the next visit from The Booth, Happy New Year, and HTTR!