On This Date in Sports September 5, 1983: MNF Classic Shootout

The Dallas Cowboys stun the Washington Redskins 31-30, overcoming a 20-point halftime deficit. It was a Monday Night opener at RFK Stadium, with the Redskins celebrating their win in Super Bowl XVII seven months earlier. The Cowboys' comeback was led by Danny White, who had three second-half touchdown passes and a touchdown run. Washington would recover from the loss and finished 13-3, while Dallas went 12-4.

The Dallas Cowboys, led by Tom Landry, were an aging team looking for one last run as the 1983 season began. In recent years, the Cowboys had been frustrated, losing in the NFC Championship Game three straight seasons. This included the 1982 NFC Championship Game, where they lost to the arch-rival Washington Redskins 31-24. The Redskins coached by Joe Gibbs would beat the Miami Dolphins 27-17 in Super Bowl XVII.

After winning Super Bowl XVII, the Redskins opened the season at home against the Cowboys on Monday Night Football. It was a muggy night at RFK Stadium, with the mercury reading 87 degrees at kickoff. Mark Moseley, the reigning NFL MVP, opened the scoring with a 23-yard field goal in the first quarter. On the next possession John Riggins, who had won the MVP in the Super Bowl, smashed his way into the end zone to give the Redskins a 10-0 lead. The Cowboys offense, stagnant in the first quarter, came alive when Tony Dorsett broke a 77-yard run. The play would have resulted in a touchdown had it not been for Darrell Green, who was playing in his first NFL game, came out of nowhere and tackled Dorsett from behind. As a result, Dallas had to settle for a 26-yard field goal by Rafael Septien. 

The Redskins answered with a pair of field goals by Moseley and went into halftime in complete control of the game as Charlie Brown reeled in a 41-yard touchdown pass from Joe Theismann with 31 seconds left in the second quarter. After trailing 23-3 at the half, the Cowboys, Danny White, who completed just one of nine passes in the first half, got on track with a 75-yard touchdown to Tony Hill. Later in the third quarter, it was White and Hill again, as the two connected on a 51-yard touchdown pass. Looking to answer, the Redskins drove down the field but came away with nothing as the usually reliable Mark Moseley missed a 31-yard field goal attempt. 

Dallas, with all the momentum going into the fourth quarter, went down the field and took a 24-23 lead on a one-yard sneak by Danny White. With Washington looking to regain the lead, Ron Fellows made a crucial interception to give the Cowboys a chance to seal the win, which they would do as Doug Cosbie made a diving catch into the end zone with 1:49 left. With time running out, the Redskins drove them down the field and got a touchdown catch by Don Warren with ten seconds left. However, the two-point conversion was 11 years away from being adopted by the NFL as the Cowboys won the game 31-30.

After his terrible first half, Danny White finished the game, completing 9-of-20 passes for 193 yards with three touchdowns. At the same time, Tony Dorsett rushed for 151 yards on 14 carries. For Washington, Joe Theismann finished the game completing 28-of-38 passes for 325 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. John Riggins was the Redskins leading rusher, with 89 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries. For the Cowboys, it was their 18th win in their last 19 season openers after their 17-year winning streak ended with a 36-28 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1982. The Cowboys would finish the year with a record of 12-4, losing to the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card Round 24-17. The Redskins meanwhile went 13-3 and reached Super Bowl XVIII, losing to the Los Angeles Raiders 38-9.