One of the great Monday Night Football games happened thirty years ago tonight at RFK Stadium. The Washington Redskins were beginning their title defense after winning Super Bowl XVII. Their opponent was the hated Dallas Cowboys, looking to avenge their NFC Championship humiliation from the previous January. It was one of the first games I can remember. The whole game is on youtube, so I thought I’d watch it again.

I’m not sure if the timing line up as this is different embed than the original.

A lot happened that night, both in the game and on the telecast.

90° on the field, 70% humidity in the air

“Princess Pale Moon, an authentic Indian princess will render the anthem”

1983 was the final year Howard Cosell was on Monday Night Football.

Cosell talks up the Cowboys more than the Redskins who were merely the defending champs

There was some sort of international crisis (Lebanon bombing I think, Cossell doesn’t say)

“Jake Gibbs” several times before being corrected.

Around 30:30 Completion to Alvin Garrett on first down…

Cosell: “Jake Gibbs really wanted to get this kid and that little monkey gets loose.”

Don Meredith: It’s actually JOE GIBBS, Jake was the other kid who was a great quarterback.

At 1:25:25 Cosell: starts defending the “little monkey” remark. ”

“A couple of AP reporters apparently going to our truck…I’ll pick up in moment. ”

(play by play continues)

“Let me pick up, according to the reporters, they were told I called Alvin Garrett a little monkey. Nothing of the sort and you fellas know it. No man respects Alvin Garrett more than I do, I talked about that man’s ability to be so elusive despite the smallness of size.”

Cosell would say “Jake Gibbs” again later in the telecast.

Camera shows Dave Butz

“He’s 800 lbs and 17 feet tall”

“Our new anchor, Peter Jennings”

Fascinating – All-time Dolphins backup QB Don Strock apparently held out, Dan Marino’s rookie year.

Gifford doing the play-by-play and doing it well, though he kept saying “Rich Walker” instead of Rick Walker.

“Joe Theismann, who will have a word with you…”

“a little quieter in the teepee at the moment” – after White’s second bomb to Tony Hill to make it 23-17, Washington 1:38:14

“Don’t worry Good Time Tommy” – as camera shows Tom Landry after John Riggins scores touchdown on fourth down in the late first quarter.

“Dallas goes into their infamous Flex defense”

After Danny White’s 76 yard touchdown pass to Tony Hill to open the second half: “I’d about decided that since Tom wouldn’t let them dance in the end zone, they wouldn’t go there any more”

Wang! Eastern Airlines!

At about 20:40 they talk about “little Darrell Green” getting roughed up by the Miami Dolphins in preseason. At 39:00, Tony Dorsett busts through the line, but you can watch it here:

Dorsett had to ice his knee afterward and the Cowboys settled for a field goal.

Right before half-time, after Skins go up 23-3.

Cosell: when have you seen the Dallas Cowboys appear in such disarray?

Meredith: Last time they were here

22+ minutes of possession for the Skins in the first half

The Dallas quarterback, who was famously knocked out in the previous NFC Championship game started off the first quarter with -10 passing yards in the first half.

3 touchdown passes, 1 touchdown run in the second. His United Way commercial got edited out of this video though.

At 1:59:05 (9:25 left in the game) Mark Mosely, who went 20 of 21 in 1982, missed a 31 yard field goal after a Don Warren catch and first down was called back for offensive pass interference.

At 2:05:38 White converts on 4th and inches on a QB sneak with about 4:55 left in the game. He then fumbled the next snap, but recovered.

Shortly there after, at 2:06:45, a shot of Riggins with a towel on his face – “think Big John Riggins just dozing off there a little?” – Gifford. Meredith and Cosell disagree.

At 2:08:33, White runs a keeper on the right side to put the Cowboys up for the first time all night. 24-23, Dallas. 2:25 on the game clock.

At 2:11:35, Theismann gets picked off by Fellows who takes it back to the 4.

At 2:14:08: Meredith: “It’s just been a good night, you want to get it off, start it off on a good positive note.

Cosell: Boy have you changed, you were enjoying their demise before.

Meredith: You were incorrect. Once again.

At 2:14:55 White throws another touchdown, this time to Doug Cosbie. Meredith: “That may have tied a long-standing record of Eddie LeBaron, he threw a 12 inch touchdown pass here in Washington.” Dallas 31 WASHINGTON 23.

At 2:15:18 a great “WELCOME HOME, JOE – VIENNA LOVES ITS REDSKINS – HIGH FIVE FUN BUNCH” banner in the end zone. Vienna did, Vienna does.

At 2:16:22 Mike Nelms with a great return, only to the 26, but he really fought to get an extra five yards. He was simply an outstanding kick returner.

At 2:17:21 reminds us that this rebroadcast “without the express written consent of the National Football League is a no-no.” Sorry, Don.

At 2:18:20 – cheerleaders with bad 1980s hairstyles.

At 2:18:30 – Cowboys fans holding a banner. Commentators note they waited to pull it out.


Meredith sings “turn out the lights, the party’s over” at 2:22:25. Gifford talks over him. Gifford “you make Willie Nelson sound like Perry Como.”

Don Warren touchdown catch, despite Everson Walls interferance at 2:24:24. Ten seconds left in the game, no two-point conversion available. PAT is good. Dallas 31, WASHINGTON 30.

Dallas recovers the onside kick at 2:27:28. Dennis Thurman, burned earlier in the game, recovered the onside kick. Game over.

The Redskins were in their traditional white over burgundy of the Gibbs eras. Joe Washington looking great with black shoes. They really need to start wearing burgundy pants with the white jerseys again.

The Cowboys were in their bad luck blues over true silver pants with the numbers on them. The captain’s “C” that Danny White, Drew Person, Bob Breuning and Ron Fellows wore was mentioned around 1:35:20. Meredith noted, “It’s amazing what the get tough rules mean down there – democracy is moving in.”

If you are like me, I’m sure you saw Glenn Carano holding for placekicks and thought that someday his daughter would be something called a mixed martial arts fighter.

Carano got leveled by a diving Darrell Green trying to block the kick. Green was injured and penalized.


A Goodyear blimp, Enterprise, was overhead for the game. Back then, blimps used Dulles Airport as their base of operations when they were in the D.C. area. Flying out to Dulles took it right over our house in Vienna. After the game, I remember hearing it and it was SO LOUD for about 10 minutes. My father got up, walked out the front door and looked up. “All I saw was blimp” he said. I wished I had at least gotten out of bed and looked out my window. He wished he had taken a photograph and send a letter to Goodyear, hoping to leverage a ride out of it. Oops.

On Channel 9, Mike Buchanan covered the loss like it was death.

The Cowboys rolled to a 7-0 start on the way to 12-2. The Redskins lost another one-point Monday Night game, 48-47 at the Green Bay Packers, the highest scoring Monday Night game ever. In week 15, they met in Texas Stadium as the Redskins dominated the Cowboys 31-10 in what is remember as the “no, Danny, no!” game. The Cowboys then lost their next two games, including a home Wild Card game to the Los Angeles Rams. A week later, the Rams went into RFK and got dominated by the Skins 51-7, setting up an NFC Championship game between the Redskins and San Francisco 49ers. The Skins overcame 4 missed Mark Mosely field goals and a furious 49er rally to advance to their second consecutive Super Bowl. The less said about that game the better.

Author: WFY

Yet another Washingtonian pushing the ubiquitous Nats/DC sports, Penn State, commuting, bicycling, kayaking, broomball, skiing, gin & tonic agenda.

Leave a Reply