Unsung Campbell Registers High Note
Tuesday, October 3, 2006
Washington Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss was mobbed in the whirlwind that followed the team's 36-30 overtime win Sunday over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Moss scored three touchdowns, caught four passes for 138 yards and, as he did in Dallas last season, may have single-handedly revitalized the Redskins' season with his 68-yard game-winning dash.
Running back Clinton Portis was there, too, enveloped in the throng after his first 100-yard game of the season.
Awash in the euphoria, too, was quarterback Mark Brunell, who threw for 329 yards, as well as the winning score after throwing an interception on his first pass of the game.
That the Redskins' three signature skill players received immediate credit for the win was not particularly surprising; the glamour positions always get the credit.
Surrounded by nobody after the game was reserve linebacker and leading special-teams player Khary Campbell, the player who made perhaps the biggest impact on the game.
With the Redskins trailing 17-10 with 1 minute 13 seconds left in the half, Alvin Pearman took a Derrick Frost punt at the 45. Campbell hit him square in the chest, knocked the ball loose and recovered the fumble at the Jacksonville 46.
It was a huge play. To that point, the Jaguars had dominated the Redskins. Quarterback Byron Leftwich had completed 10 of 15 passes for 145 yards and had a 137.5 passer rating. The Jaguars would have had the football at essentially midfield with a chance to take a two-possession lead.
"It's what we preach. We were talking about it all week," Campbell said. "We wanted to do something, get the ball out, do something to change the game. It's fun to talk about it and actually do it. Special teams is one of those parts of the game not always recognized."
Instead of Leftwich driving, Brunell hit Antwaan Randle El for 19 yards to put the Redskins in field goal range. Two four-yard passes to Randle El and Ladell Betts set up a 37-yard field goal by John Hall.
"We take pride in special teams and Khary works hard every day and all the guys work hard," said kick returner Rock Cartwright, whose fourth-quarter kickoff return set up a go-ahead field goal.
Crossing the Eyes
Moss had a good-natured reaction to razzing by Portis after the game.
"He's one of the best cross-eyed receivers I ever met," Portis had said. "If he weren't cross-eyed it would be hard for him to adjust to those balls, being that his eyes are always messed up. The corner never knows what he's going to do."
Moss, who has been friends with Portis for years but is a much more serious personality, wasn't exactly laughing.
"Sometimes I have to say, 'Clinton, stop playing with me.' I don't like to be played with all the time," Moss said. "That's my boy, though. Whether he says something that's true or not, I'm going to laugh at it."
Penalty Under Review
Officials hit the Redskins with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after Moss's first touchdown, a 55-yard footrace following a short pass in the slot from Brunell. After the score, Moss stood in the back of the end zone with his arms folded. Brandon Lloyd -- whose costly fumble late in the game turned a comfortable lead into a close game -- picked him up and flags flew. Coach Joe Gibbs said he is considering turning the play into the league.
"I think what they called is that somebody picked him up," Gibbs said. "That goes on all the time. That is an example of a penalty really hurting you." . . .
The NFL hit Portis in the wallet. After Cartwright's 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown Sept. 17 against Dallas, Portis raced 50 yards to congratulate Cartwright. Portis, who was inactive for that game, was notified last week that he has been fined $5,000 by the league.