Commanders vs. Cowboys


Football games are fun to watch. Football games between the Washington Commanders and the Dallas Cowboys are breathtaking, exciting, and nerve-wracking for everyone who enjoys watching these teams play against each other. Commanders fans or Cowboys fans should know about this historic rivalry and the history behind it. In recent years, the rivalry has been going through some obstacles because both teams right now are not as good as they used to be.


The rivalry started in 1960 when Dallas joined the NFL as an expansion team, while the Commanders, formerly known as the Redskins, had been a member of the league since 1932. During the 1961 NFL season, the Cowboys were placed in the same division with the Commanders and from then on, they played against each other twice every season. Ever since the Dallas Cowboys got moved to the same division with the Commanders, the Commanders were the first team that the Cowboys had a rivalry with.

Early years/1970s

When the NFL and the AFL merged during the 1970 season, the first four NFL divisions were formed and the Commanders and Cowboys eventually turned into a rivalry. During the 1970s, both teams were very good in different ways. The Commanders, under head coach George Allen, would make the playoffs five times in the 1970s and have produced a lot of talented players like Larry Brown, Charley Taylor, Ken Houston, and Bobby Mitchell. Even though they never won a Super Bowl, they were still a dangerous team to play against and they would have a winning season almost every year during the 1970s. One of the most notable games is when they faced each other in the 1972 NFC Championship Game. The Commanders beat the Cowboys to advance to their first Super Bowl of the decade.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, had already established themselves as a championship caliber team by winning two Super Bowls under head coach Tom Landry, and have also produced some of the best players of all time, such as Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Mike Ditka, Bob Lily, and Drew Pearson. After the Cowboys won their two Super Bowls, everyone started to nickname them “America’s Team” because they had become the best sports team in America. 

Peak years: 1980s-90s

When the 1980s came, it would be the turning point of the rivalry. The Commanders got a new coach in Joe Gibbs, hoping to turn the franchise around after not winning a Super Bowl in the 1970s. The Cowboys were still in good shape as a team, with Tom Landry still as their head coach. In 1982, it would be a historic season for the Commanders. The Commanders would advance to their second Super Bowl appearance.

During the 1980s, the Commanders had three Super Bowl appearances, winning two of them. They have produced a lot of talented players like Darrell Green, Doug Williams, and Dexter Manley. This large amount of success would prove that the Commanders were one of the best teams during the 1980s and that the franchise would be on the rise to prominence. 

The Cowboys in the 1980s would still have success, but they never won a Super Bowl. However, they were still a very good team because they were always making the playoffs, and they would always stay competitive in every game that they played in. They also produced some talented players like Danny White, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, and Tony Hill. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, their head coach Tom Landry retired in 1988.  Throughout the rest of the 1980s, the Commanders and Cowboys would play each other six times, and the head to head record was tied with both teams having three wins over one another.

When the 1990s came, the Commanders would continue their run of success by making the playoffs in the very first year of the 1990s. The following year, the Commanders went 14-2 through the regular season and would go on to win their third Super Bowl, making history as Joe Gibbs was the first coach in NFL history to win three Super Bowls with three different starting quarterbacks.  Unfortunately for the Commanders, their head coach Joe Gibbs retired after the 1992 season.  

In the beginning of the 1990s, the Cowboys hired a young coach in Jimmy Johnson, and were going through a rebuild process. By the time the mid-1990s came, things would change drastically for the Cowboys. They would go on to win three Super Bowls with their “Big Three” consisting of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin. With the Cowboys winning three super bowls in the 1990s, they would have 5 Super Bowl titles as a franchise, which at the time is the most of any franchise. 

One of the most iconic games between them in the 90s, was when the Commanders were in the midst of their undefeated season, and they were hosting the Cowboys at home. The Commanders were favorites to win, but the Cowboys shocked them and ended their undefeated season. This game would prove to be the turning point for the Cowboys in the 90s. After that game, the Commanders would go on to win the rest of their games and would eventually win their third Super Bowl as a franchise. 

The down years/early 2000s

When the 2000s came, the Commanders and Cowboys were both in similar, but unique spots in their franchise history. The Commanders moved into a new stadium, have a new owner in Dan Snyder, and they have a new head coach in Norv Turner. They lost a lot of their key players from the 90s, but have lots of young talented players like Champ Bailey, Sean Taylor, and Santana Moss. The Commanders wouldn’t win any Super Bowls in the early 2000s, but they would always stay competitive and often reach the playoffs. 

Much like the Commanders, the Cowboys moved into a new stadium, hired a new coach, and got a new owner. They also had a lot of young talented players like Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Demarco Murray. The Cowboys also wouldn’t win any Super Bowls in the early 2000s, but the franchise hoped that their young players wpuld develop in the future, and that the franchise will be back to winning Super Bowls again.  

Overall in the early 2000s, the Commanders and the Cowboys would play each other eight times, and the head to head record was six wins to two wins in favor of the Commanders. Neither team won any Super Bowls during the early 2000s, and that’s when the rivalry’s reputation started to go down because that proved that both teams are worsening and winning less championships. 

Current years/mid-2000s

When the mid-2000s came, the Commanders would seemingly get worse as they only reached the playoffs only two years out of the ten years in the mid-2000s. Even though they got worse, they have produced a lot of talented players like Ryan Kerrigan, Pierre Garcon, and Desean Jackson. During that time, Washington would only have a winning season three times out of ten years. Even though they made the playoffs twice, the Commanders would lose their Super Bowl hopes in the Wild Card Game. Those losses would put some doubt in Commanders fans thinking that the team is on a decline, and that they’re never going to be good again. Commanders fans hoped that the future would be better for the team and that they will go back to their winning ways. 

For the Cowboys, they would be in the same situation. Even though the team was filled with young talent like Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliot, and Amari Cooper, they would only make the playoffs three times in the 2010s. Even though they would make the playoffs, they would always lose in the Wild Card Game. Cowboys fans still think that with their young talent that they’re producing, they will be back in the playoffs more often in the future. 

One of the most iconic games between them is when the Commanders played the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day at in 2016. The Commanders and the Cowboys would score on almost every drive they had, until the Commanders couldn’t score on their final drive and the Cowboys would win the game, 31-26. That win would give the Cowboys a a huge lead in the NFC East, which would lead them to earn a playoff spot before any team in the division. 

In the 2010s, the Commanders and the Cowboys would play each other eleven times, and the head to head record was nine wins to two wins in favor of the Cowboys.