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Best& Worst

Monday, January 2, 2006

Best Comeback: The Redskins negated three quarters of mediocre football with two plays early in the fourth quarter. Washington trailed 20-17 when linebacker Lemar Marshall intercepted a Mike McMahon pass at the Philadelphia 22-yard line. On the next play, Clinton Portis broke free and scored the decisive touchdown in Washington's playoff-clinching victory.

Best Seasons: Portis and Santana Moss both set team records yesterday. Portis, who finished the regular season with 1,516 yards, broke Stephen Davis's 2001 mark of 1,432 in the second quarter; Moss (1,483 receiving yards) broke Bobby Mitchell's 1963 record of 1,436.

Worst Donovan McNabb Impersonator: McMahon threw admirably but, when he tried to run, he stumbled more often than a toddler learning to walk. McMahon slipped in the backfield before anybody touched him three times, and he fumbled when he tried a quarterback sneak in the second quarter. McMahon's inability left Philadelphia fans yearning for the injured quarterback he'd replaced.

Best Entrance: With its lights flashing, a police cruiser parted traffic for Philadelphia Coach Andy Reid's late-model sport utility vehicle on the way to Lincoln Financial Field. Reid arrived at the stadium more than two hours before kickoff, unbothered.

Worst Exit: Reid walked off the field to a loud smattering of boos. After a 6-10 season and a final, fourth-quarter implosion in which his team committed two personal foul penalties, Reid desperately needed police escorts again. For his own safety.

Worst Decision: Instead of calling for an easy fair catch, Philadelphia's Dexter Wynn tried to catch and return a punt in heavy traffic midway through the first quarter. He never got beyond the catching part. The ball ricocheted off Wynn's chest, and Mike Sellers pounced on it, cementing a turnover that led to Washington's first touchdown.

Best Do-over: McMahon found Reggie Brown wide open on a crossing route for a touchdown late in the second quarter, only to lose the score because of an illegal motion penalty. Several plays later, Brown ran by Shawn Springs on the same route for a touchdown -- and this time it stuck for a 17-7 Philadelphia lead.

Worst Official Explanation: With the Redskins driving late in the third quarter, it looked like a defensive holding penalty would negate a Philadelphia interception. Referee Terry McAulay, though, announced the Redskins had declined the penalty and instead accepted the Philadelphia interception. Shocked Redskins players looked desperately at the sideline until McAulay announced he had misspoken.

-- Eli Saslow

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