A Vaguely Familiar Stretch Run, And Predictable Prescience, Too

By Tony Kornheiser
Monday, January 2, 2006

Here, for posterity, are the Eagles' last five possessions: interception, fumble, punt, fumble (returned for touchdown!), interception.

That's Philly's fourth quarter.

That's the Titanic. Nobody's winning that way.

Not with Koy Detmer. Not with Ty Detmer. Not with Mike McMahon. Not with Ed McMahon. Not with Andy Reid. Not even with the hellacious spitfire Tara Reid.

Like they did long ago under Joe Gibbs, in a galaxy far, far away, the Redskins have become a fourth-quarter team. That's when they make their move, like a closer in a horse race. The Redskins entered the fourth quarter behind 20-17 -- they took the ball away four times! -- and left it on their way to Tampa and the playoffs for the first time in six years.

Almost every one of Washington's great plays came on defense, beginning with Marcus Washington's critical strip of Billy McMullen (the long-lost brother McMullen) very late in the second quarter that stopped the Eagles from building a 10- or 14-point lead at halftime. After that, the Redskins gave up exactly three points the rest of the way.

Four takeaways in the fourth quarter alone! Wow. Lemar Marshall's interception; Joe Salavea's fumble recovery; Phillip Daniels's strip of Koy Detmer, and Sean Taylor's running it in to seal the deal; Ryan Clark's almost superfluous interception. And why Andy Reid went to Detmer is baffling. It was the hunch from hell. Mike McMahon took three and a half quarters to throw an interception and make a fumble -- Detmer accomplished both in seven minutes. Congrats, Koy.

Excuse me, Tony, but isn't it time you gloated a little? Haven't you been writing for the last five weeks that the Redskins would win five straight games and make the playoffs? Well, they did. You were right.

Really? I hadn't noticed.

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