Players Relishing Must-Win Situation

By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 13, 2005

As soon as the Washington Redskins had escaped the Arizona Cardinals with a 17-13 victory Sunday, defensive end Renaldo Wynn asked around the locker room for an updated score of the Dallas-Kansas City game. No one knew anything more than that the game was close and it was late in the fourth quarter. Within minutes, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, his ear attached to a cell phone, announced that the Cowboys had won, and so, too, did the New York Giants.

"This is what it's all about," left tackle Chris Samuels said. "I've never liked Dallas. It's a big game for us. It's a big game for them. We have to win out."

Yesterday, the Cowboys came closer into focus, as did the idea that many players will be playing meaningful football in December for the first time as Redskins.

"It's nice. It's good for football," said Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington, "that the Cowboys and Indians are playing for something so late in the season."

The Redskins haven't forgotten the way they defeated the Cowboys earlier this season, having been shut out by Dallas for 56 minutes but escaping with two big strikes to Santana Moss in a 14-13 win. The Redskins are convinced the Cowboys have not forgotten either.

"To be honest, I couldn't care less," Moss said about being in the Cowboys' sights. "If I didn't tick them off, I'd be scratching my head about that, about why they weren't giving me any respect."

Having played in five playoff games with the New York Jets, Moss is one of the few Redskins with multiple games of playoff experience. A key, Moss says, is not to scoreboard watch. "All we have to do is win," he said. "I never get into that stuff, because you have all these people telling you what you have to do when all you need to do is win games. If you win all your games and don't get in, then you still won games. If you don't win games, then you're thinking about all the things you should have done."

Randy Thomas, who played in a 2002 AFC wild-card game with the Jets against Indianapolis, a 41-0 Jets win, said: "I'm pumped up about this like you wouldn't believe. It's big. In a way, I'm glad that we won and that Dallas won so there's no backing in. It would be different coming off of losses. They won. We won. They need to win. We need to win. I like that."

Stellar Special Teams

The tension between the ability of the Redskins defense to limit teams and the sporadic success of the offense has been central to the Redskins' fortunes this season. On Sunday, the Redskins special teams reminded both sides of the ball that it can be a big-play force as well.

Antonio Brown was the star of the afternoon, his 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was the difference in Sunday's win. The signature moment of the game was Brown blowing kisses down the sideline as he raced into the end zone.

"That's Antonio Brown," said backup cornerback Ade Jimoh. "When you can run a 4.2 40 off of the couch, you can do anything you want."

While Brown and Ladell Betts have both scored on kickoff returns, the Redskins' coverage unit is third in the league in punt return average and fourth in the kickoff return average.

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