How 'BOUT them Redskins, huh? How about this post-holiday elixir, this dream team, Gentleman Joe's clean-cut slogging stomping romping Horsemen of the Apocalypse outlined against a cold gray January sky and just knocking the socks off 'em.

Super Bowl bound, baby.

And hey, y'all can just put away those body bags.

Oh, Washingtonians walk with a lighter step today, a happy step, with a smile on their lips and a beam of sunlight in their hearts. From Laytonsville in the north to Dale City in the south, from the tobacco fields of Marlboro to the canyons of K Street the message rings clear: Forget the war deadline in the Persian Gulf, forget the recession, forget the District's crumbling finances! We've got our Redskins, we've got another week of holidays, we've got one more reason for the dry ice and chips and dip and chicken and a good sitdown with friends and family.

"I love it when the team wins because the city becomes one beautiful neighborhood and all the neighbors love one another," says Charlie Brotman, a Washington PR man and immediate past president of the Touchdown Club. "There's no race or religion, no male or female, no big man or little man. It's like the entire city just won the lottery."

The solstice is past, the days grow longer now, and spring is on the way.

"It's a real emotional boost that adds a little levity to very tough times," says D.C. Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis. "My niece was married on Saturday and her husband, a lieutenant commander, is going back to Saudi Arabia on Monday. But for all of us, the Redskin victory was something that lifted our spirits beyond the current crises."

It's all so highly personal.

"I had a cataract operation Friday and had debated whether to put it off," says Washington playwright Larry L. King, author of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," "but my doctor assured me the bandage would come off at 10 on Saturday morning and I could see the game. And I sat here and saw it better than I ever did."

Laurel journalist Tony Glaros remembers once interviewing a UPS delivery driver who was wondering why everyone in Bethesda was walking along one morning with slumped shoulders, and the driver was told by a forlorn commuter that "the Redskins lost, and it's Monday."

Well they didn't lose this time, bubba.

Everyone loves the way the Skins did it this time too, fighting to their hard-won victory over the favored enemy, toughing it out as a team, working together. They didn't have high-fliers to depend on, they had no Randall Cunningham, but they had their guts and their iron resolve and their skill and by God they kept their dignity.

"They were not only successful, they were a class act," says WMAL sports director and talk show host Ken Beatrice. "They brought honor to the community. The composite attitude of this town is certainly more upbeat after their victory, more positive. I'm often criticized for treating sports too seriously, and I understand that what happens on the field is just a game, but to the fans it's a very real part of their life. It's their avocation, their diversion, and there is satisfaction gained from that part of their life just as from their families and jobs. The more parts of a person's life that are positive, the better able they are to handle daily problems."

You got it, bro.

Author and columnist Carl Rowan: "The Redskins are more needed than ever. People can't sit around 24 hours a day thinking about rising unemployment and what Saddam Hussein is going to do. Otherwise, we'd have a nation full of crazy people."


There are, one can hardly fail to notice, certain parallels between a football game and war (a long pass is a "bomb," a quarterback is sacked in a "blitz"), and particularly the way Americans fight wars: There's a certain massiveness. We are not talking baseball here. We are talking gang tackles. We are talking brilliance often, but even more often that slow, steady, relentless forward motion that just keeps going, that just grinds them into the earth whence they came.

Football is a flowing and intricately choreographed ballet of violence, and our troops in the Mideast are Our Team. We are rooting for them. And if sports is a metaphor for life, the Redskins gave a special gift on Saturday, something about how to fortify oneself in the face of adversity, abuse, taunts. Something about getting, and keeping, the psychological edge. About holding steady and running down the clock until the other guy crumbles.

Body bags indeed.

"It's been a long time since we've had any ups," says Washington restaurateur (the Palm) Wally Ganzi, a personal friend of George and Barbara Bush. "But now there's a feeling of positive hope with this Redskins victory, and at this point not just the city but the whole country needs a little bit of an uplift. I think the president's going to give it to us."

Yes, of course: Sports really is a metaphor for life, which is why, even in the wild exultation of Saturday's victory, it was possible to feel a sudden (albeit brief, very brief) twinge of sadness at those fallen faces on the Eagles bench, those 1,000-yard stares and slumped shoulders that could have been our own.

For Buddy Ryan, though, no sympathy. No sentient Redskin fan could feel anything but savage delight at his terrible, humiliating fate.

Over in Champions, the Georgetown sports bar, the frenzy of Redskins fans on Saturday rose in proportion to the declining expression on the coach's face -- so hard and mean through most of the game, a face seemingly frozen in rage at what his eyes beheld.

Then there came that wonderful moment in the fourth quarter when somehow it instantaneously entered the collective consciousness of mankind that THERE WAS NO WAY THE EAGLES COULD PULL IT OUT, NO WAY AT ALL, SORRY ABOUT THAT, and Ryan's expression changed. His face got sort of twitchy. It got sort of teary, almost. For a while he looked as if he was trying to keep from weeping.

"You gotta love it! You gotta love it!" the fans screamed.

Then Ryan started to look really sick. He started to look like a man who very much needed to visit a bathroom and had just learned that the nearest one was too far away.

"Dig it! Dig it!" the fans screamed.

The place was going wild. On the field, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse had done their work, the slaughter was complete. In the darkened interior of Champions, the bartender lined up double shot glasses and poured the traditional victory drinks, called Kamikazes -- shot of vodka, shot of Triple Sec, splash of lime juice.

The fans knocked them back, and the thick air was filled with their whoops.