The Dallas Cowboys will be making their 77th appearance on Monday Night Football when they play at NFC East rival Washington Redskins.
The Cowboys (3-8) are 43-33 in Monday Night Football games.
“I think it has a little extra meaning for everybody. It’s always an elevated atmosphere,” said Cowboys’ fullback Tyler Clutts, who played in Chicago, Houston and Miami before joining the Cowboys. “My rookie year in Chicago [in 2011], Lovie Smith always said that Monday Night Football is equivalent to a playoff game atmosphere-wise. So especially a Monday night game against a division rival is exciting, you get excited for these games.
“You definitely get more texts and phone calls when you play on Monday night because everybody is usually watching.”
The majority of the Cowboys’ appearances (67) were on ABC Monday Night Football from 1970-2005 when they posted a 39-28 record. They were 17-11 at home and 22-17 on the road in that span.
The Cowboys’ first appearance was Nov. 16, 1970, in a 38-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
ESPN acquired the game in 2006. Since then, the Cowboys have made eight appearances with a 4-4 record.
Before the creation of the ABC MNF phenomenon, the Cowboys played three times on Monday night. They lost 20-13 at St. Louis on Oct. 4, 1965, lost 28-17 against Green Bay on Oct. 28, 1968 and beat the New York Giants 25-3 on Oct. 27, 1969.
On Jan. 3, 1983, Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett took a handoff from quarterback Danny White and scored on a 99-yard run against the Minnesota Vikings.
It remains an unbreakable longest rushing touchdown in NFL history.
The run happened in the final regular-season game of the strike-shortened 1982 season.
Dallas lost the game 31-27.
Monday’s game marks the 17th meeting between the Cowboys and Redskins (5-6) on Monday Night Football, tied for the most frequent matchup in the 45-year history of the series. Oakland and Denver have met 17 times.
Good luck charm?
In four career appearances on Monday Night Football, quarterback Matt Cassel is 3-1 as a starter while with New England (2008) and Kansas City (2010-2012). He has completed 58 percent of his passes for 668 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. Cassel is 0-4 as a starter for Dallas, but returns to the starting lineup again after Tony Romo fractured his left collarbone last week against Carolina.
Monday Night Football always draws a big viewership and could make for a nice backdrop as Cowboys tight end Jason Witten pursues another milestone.
Witten needs two receptions to become the 11th player in NFL history, and the second tight end after Tony Gonzalez, to reach 1,000 career catches.
There’s a good chance Witten will reach the milestone against Washington. In 24 career games against the Redskins, Witten has 108 receptions for 1,219 yards and seven touchdowns.
Seeing is believing
Historically, when Dallas plays Washington on Monday Night Football, it makes for good TV.
According to the 2015 official NFL Record and Fact Book, two of the Cowboys-Redskins matchups rank among the 10 highest-rated MNF games of all time based on Nielsen figures.
The 1978 Cowboys at Redskins game is third with a rating of 26.8 and 43 percent share. The Redskins won 9-5.
The 1973 Cowboys at Redskins game is 10th with a rating of 24.6 and 40 percent share. The Redskins won 14-7
Overall, the Cowboys have played in four of the 10 highest-rated games on Monday Night Football, including at Miami in 1984 and at home against Pittsburgh in 1982.
Who’s No. 1?
In 1985, the Chicago Bears played at Miami and drew a rating of 29.6 and 46 percent share. The Bears lost only one game on the way to a Super Bowl. It was against Miami on MNF.
All of those games were on ABC. MNF moved to cable station ESPN in 2006.
Mark the date
Monday’s game is being played on Dec. 7.
The Cowboys are 3-4 all-time in games played on Dec. 7.
The Redskins are 7-4-1 all-time in games played on Dec. 7.
The Redskins’ first game on that date lives in infamy. Washington beat Philadelphia 20-14 on Dec. 7, 1941. On that day, many prominent military and government officials among the announced crowd of 27,102 were summoned to their offices over the Griffith Stadium loudspeakers following the attacks on Pearl Harbor.
The Redskins (5-6) have already surpassed their win total of last season (4) and have extended their home winning streak to five games for the first time since the 2004-2005 seasons. The five-game, regular-season home winning streak is the team’s first in a single season since its Super Bowl championship season in 1991. Washington also enters December with the NFC East lead for the first time since 1999.
Bet you didn’t know
Redskins coach Jay Gruden (Barcelona Dragons/Sacramento Surge) and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett (San Antonio Riders) each played quarterback in the World League of American Football in 1991.
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins has completed 268 of 392 passes for 2,787 yards and 16 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.
His 68.4 completion percentage ranks first in the NFC and second in the NFL. He ranks first in the NFC and third in the NFL in fourth-quarter first-down passes with 46.
He has a career-best 11 consecutive games with a touchdown pass this season.
“To be honest, I’ve always loved the 1 p.m. kickoffs because if nothing else, you get a chance to go home and be with your family and get to bed at a normal hour. And I’m a guy who needs my sleep. So, it’s good to be able to get to bed at a normal hour,” Cousins said. “But, hey, playing at prime time, nothing better. As a kid, you watch Monday Night Football and you dream of playing in the NFL. So, the opportunity to start at quarterback on Monday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys is — to say that it would be a dream come true wouldn’t be true because I don’t know that I dreamed that it would happen. It’s a major blessing and something that I want to take full advantage of.”
Running back Christine Michael, who was with the Cowboys two weeks ago, is on the Redskins’ practice squad.
Michael was acquired by the Cowboys in a trade with Seattle on Sept. 6. He was released on Nov. 17. Two days later, he signed with the Redskins.
While in Dallas, Michael had 15 carries for 51 yards and caught one pass.
In another transaction twist, running back Trey Williams was released by the Cowboys Monday. Williams was signed off the Redskins’ practice squad by Dallas on Nov. 4.
They both were with the Cowboys at the same time for about two weeks.
Sources: Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins