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Monday, February 7, 2005; Page D02

On fourth and goal from the dumpster, Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb sprinted to his right and, just before being pummeled by two New England defenders, scampered up a wall that lined the field and hurdled the would-be tacklers into the end zone as he taunted them.

In Electronic Arts' NFL Street 2, the laws of physics are outdated guidelines, and the trash-talk is just as important as crossing the goal line.

NFL Street 2 ($50 for PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube) fills a sort of offseason void in the sports video game calendar: the time between when you get tired of the current NFL Madden game and the release of next year's version. NFL Street 2 is what the original NFL Street should have been.

The seven-on-seven game is one of the simplest to play, and its best aspect is the "Own the City" mode. You create a player, recruit computer controlled teammates, and travel to neighborhoods to compete against squads in aqueducts, alleys and parks. After plastering the city with your team's logo, your player can be exported to next year's NFL Madden game and be available in the draft.

The game's other intriguing mode is "NFL Gauntlet," where you choose one pro team and try to beat the remaining 31, which can be quite challenging because games are played to a set number of points, regardless of time. And don't think about kicking field goals: They don't exist.

NFL Street 2 rewards players for poor sportsmanship. The game awards "style points" for dancing into the end zone or holding the ball in front of the opponent as you taunt him. The accumulation of style points lead to GameBreakers, which essentially make your team unstoppable for one drive: just hand the ball to your running back and watch him plow through the defense like a bull through the streets of Pamplona.

NFL Street 2 is vastly superior to last year's version, and it's a fun way to spend the football offseason, even if it will be forgotten at the start of next season.

-- Jon Gallo

© 2005 The Washington Post Company