Griffin Eager To Play at Full Strength
The image of Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms stepping back into the pocket, scanning and throwing downfield without great pressure, is one that is burned into the minds of the Washington Redskins -- particularly into the memory bank of defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin.
Griffin did not play in that game, and neither did safety Sean Taylor. Griffin had a sore groin and Taylor was out with a shoulder injury. "We weren't at full strength that game," defensive tackle Phillip Daniels said. "I can't help but think that we would play much more to our capability at full strength."
In the game on Nov. 13, a 36-35 Tampa Bay win, the Buccaneers piled up 340 yards of offense. Simms passed for 279 yards and three touchdowns. Worse, the Redskins did not record a sack.
"Let's say that I think I could have done a little something in that game," Griffin said. "This one is going to be a little different. We were banged up that game."
Two Are Honored
Continuing a recent trend, Mike Sellers was named NFC player of the week on special teams.
Sellers's big play came when he recovered a first-quarter fumble by Dexter Wynn on punt coverage. The Eagles were trailing 3-0 at the time, and the play began a five-play, 37-yard drive that ended when Sellers caught a four-yard touchdown pass.
Since beginning their five-game winning streak, the Redskins are on a roll when it comes to NFC player of the week awards. It started Dec. 11 at Arizona, when Antonio Brown scored on a 91-yard kickoff return. The next week against Dallas, Daniels won the award on defense after recording four sacks. The next week against the Giants, Santana Moss was named NFC offensive player of the week after catching five passes for 160 yards. . . . Linebacker Marcus Washington was named NFC defensive player of the month for December. He had 35 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries as the Redskins went 5-0.
Son Is Better
Wide receivers coach Stan Hixon said his son, Drew, who suffered a life-threatening brain injury in a football game in September 2004, has completed his degree in finance and is now interviewing for jobs. Drew Hixon graduated from Tennessee Tech University on Dec. 17, and is back with his parents working at a local Nike store while he mulls career options. It was unclear for a while whether Hixon would survive the head trauma he suffered during a Tennessee Tech game, and later there were concerns about regaining substantial cognitive abilities to function on his own. "He's doing well," Stan Hixon said of his son, who previously interned in the Redskins' football operations department. "He has some interviews lined up and he's looking for a job."
Starting right cornerback Shawn Springs, whose status is questionable because of a right groin injury, did not practice yesterday. Defensive end Renaldo Wynn didn't practice either. He's been struggling with a sore arch, but is expected to play.
Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs has 16 career playoff wins, which is tied for third all-time. A win on Saturday would break a tie with Pittsburgh's Chuck Noll and leave Gibbs behind Don Shula's 19 wins with Baltimore and Miami, and Tom Landry's 20 with Dallas. . . . The Redskins and Buccaneers know that, in terms of tension, the Nov. 13 game was no aberration. Eleven of the 14 games between the Redskins and Bucs have been decided by eight points or less. . . . Bucs Coach Jon Gruden had special praise for Taylor. "He's certainly a dynamic playmaker. He has sideline to sideline ability. He is a great tackler, a great blitzer, and he has tremendous recoverability," Gruden said. "He can line up at the line of scrimmage and run out of there and play a deep zone if he has to. He plays with a passion. He's a guy that's certainly dynamic in terms of his playmaking on the tape that we've seen."
-- Howard Bryant and Jason La Canfora