In the first half the Cowboys plodded to a 3-0 lead and could easily have trailed 9-3 had not Curt Knight blown 23-, 28-and 37-yard field goals.
"We learned a long time ago that we have to play with gusto," Dallas' Calvin Hill said after the game. "We played with gusto in the second half." In the second half Dallas outgustoed Washington 264 yards to 46 and outscored it 24 to 7. But, realistically, gusto did not have that much to do with it. The Redskins are an emotional team that depends only minimally on intellect; the Cowboys are an intellectual team that uses emotion only as it builds up. In the overwhelming second half, George Allen was decisively out-coached by Tom Landry.
"They didn't show us anything new," said Dallas Linebacker Lee Roy Jordan. "They do the things that have worked for them. Those things didn't work very well the first time we played them and lost, 14-7. We should have won that game. The defense was very confident going into this one. We thought we could hold them and we did. The only score they got was on a blocked punt."
On the other hand, the Cowboys unveiled three new plays, the most effective being a roll-out in which Roger Staubach sprinted left or right, then either ran or threw to Walt Garrison.
"It puts a heck of a strain on the corner linebacker," Garrison said after the game. "I fake into the line, then slide out for the pass. If the linebacker goes with me, Roger runs. If he comes up to get Roger, he passes to me. Whatever he does, it's a mistake!" Garrison led the Cowboys with four catches for 45 yards; Staubach rushed three times for 18.
When Dallas was in scoring position, Landry put in a play that might easily have been stolen from Ohio State, a power I with three running backs and two tight ends. Rayfield Wright, normally a tackle, went in as a tight end on the left side of the line and Bob Newhouse joined Garrison and Hill in the backfield.
"It gives us a lot of power ahead of the runner, doesn't it?" said Wright later. "Got all that force coming one way, something's got to give." The Redskins gave three times, once when Staubach scored from the five and twice when Hill boomed in from the one and two.
In the first half the Cowboys had sent most of their running plays to the strong side behind Wright's blocking and that of their two good tight ends, Jean Fugett and Billy Joe DuPree, who alternated. In the second half they aimed the play that way, then came back to the weak side. The Redskins had overshifted to the strong side and never adjusted.
"We had that play all the time," said Hill, "but you have to save something for the second half, don't you?"
St. Louis' 32-10 upset of Atlanta virtually assured that both Dallas and Washington will move into the playoffs, the Cowboys as division champions, the Redskins as the wild card. So it is conceivable that they could meet again in the NFC championship game. By then the Redskins may have adjusted to the changes in the Dallas offense. But by then Landry will have some new wrinkles for Allen. You can bet he's been saving something.