Despite the alliteration, Redskins-Rams doesn't necessarily roll off of the tongue when talking about great NFL rivals. The truth is that the teams have been adversaries both on and off the field in some interesting, even historic, confrontations.
The Washington Redskins had never lost to the Cleveland Rams in five games when the two teams squared off in the 1945 NFL Championship Game. With no score in the first quarter Sammy Baugh went back to pass in his own end zone. He spotted star receiver Wayne Milner at the ten but his pass smacked off of the goal post (they were on the goal line then). Under the rules in force at the time the Rams got two points for a safety. While the rule was changed prior to the next season, it was too late to help Baugh and the Redskins, who lost that title because of the two points awarded to Cleveland, 15-14.
That would be the last postseason game the Redskins would play in for the next 25 seasons. To try to end that drought, Washington hired George Allen, who had just been fired by the Los Angeles Rams, in 1971. While there were bitter feelings between the coach and his former team, it didn't keep the two parties from getting together for what still is the biggest trade in NFL history involving just two teams. Fifteen players and draft picks exchanged hands in the 1971 draft day deal.
That season the Redskins were on the verge of breaking that quarter-century playoff drought, but they had to beat, you guessed it, the Rams in the 13th game of the 14-game slate. It did not start off well for Washington. Kermit Alexander picked off a Billy Kilmer pass and dashed down the sideline 82 yards for a 7-0 Ram lead. A 70-yard bomb from Kilmer to Roy Jefferson tied it up before the first quarter ended. It was tied at 10 in the second quarter when Kilmer hit Clifton McNeil with a 32-yard scoring pass. On the ensuing kickoff the Redskins' control of the game turned into command of it when the Rams fumbled, the Redskins recovered, and Larry Brown bulled over from the one six plays later.
The Rams threatened to rally back into it in the second half, cutting what was a 31-10 Redskins lead to 31-24. They got no closer, though, as Speedy Duncan locked up the Redskins' long-awaited playoff berth with a 44-yard return of an interception for a touchdown and a 38-24 Washington win.
That game had the atmosphere of a playoff game but following the 1983 season the Redskins and Rams hooked up in an actual elimination game. Washington was coming off of a bye week, the Rams had to travel to Texas Stadium to eliminate the Cowboys the previous week. The Redskins had gone 14-2 in the regular season; the Rams had snuck into the playoffs with a 9-7 mark. They had met previously, with Washington taking it to the Rams in California 42-20.
The game went precisely to form. After 16 minutes of play it was 24-0 as Art Monk had caught a touchdown pass and John Rigging had two touchdown runs. Meanwhile, a rookie defensive back named Darrell Green was flying all over the field making tackles and breaking up passes. Appropriately, Green scored the last points in the 51-7 rout, snatching a pass that had bounced off of Eric Dickerson's hands and, in a flash, taking back 72 yards for a touchdown.