"Every week begins a new year." -- Mark Moseley

It has a nice ring -- and perhaps Moseley, if he can carry a tune half as well as he has carried the Redskins over the years, will flesh it out and record it. Worse lyrics have been allowed to escape his native Texas. And none are more honest to describe life in the National Football League, especially for men in Moseley's line of work.

For seven weeks that surely seemed like seven years, Moseley had been kicking himself off the Redskins and out of the league. Everyone here knew it. Surprisingly, almost incredibly, nobody made a major fuss about it. No one called for his Red-skinned scalp. Even Moseley noticed.

In as cynical, victory-obsessed, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately an area as exists on the planet, Washington was exceedingly kind to its field goal kicker throughout his slump.

Washington rooted for Moseley, hoped desperately that his two-for-10 stretch was an aberration rather than the middle of a never-ending decline. If Redskin management had a timetable beyond which no more reasonable misses would be tolerated, Moseley was unaware of it.

Still, there were doubts. Large ones, though nearly always silent. Even Moseley, behind that public show of bravado, had been questioning his own ability. Having been cut twice earlier in his 10-year NFLlife, how could it be otherwise?

"I had my doubts," he admitted yesterday, after being as excellent as he had been awful. "I'd begun to think that maybe something really was going wrong. But every time I'd mention it to my wife, she'd say; 'No. I know it's still there.'"

Sharon Moseley's advice is worthwhile, for reasons practical as well as predictable. She was, after all, Moseley's holder long before Joe Theismann. When nearly all the teams in the league -- six years ago -- suggested Moseley no longer could earn a living with his right foot, they worked together to prove otherwise.

"We've tried to make an awful lot of teams," he said.

Moseley was cradling a football at that moment, the one the Redskins gave him for regaining his prior form and kicking the five field goals that allowed them to become successfully boring once again.

"This (game ball) is the best one I've ever received," he continued. And, yes, Moseley did realize he had a chance to break the Redskin record he shares with Curt Knight if the coaches had allowed him another beyond-50-yard effort instead of calling for a fake in the fourth quarter.

"I knew it," Moseley said, "because I was on the other side of the field when Knight set the record. Yep, I was the Oilers' kicker the day Curt kicked the five in '72."

All during the slump, Moseley was at wit's end because he could not determine anything dramatically wrong, either with his form or anything in the snap-to-holder routine. Whatever pressure there was came mostly from within, however. Because Moseley had done so much for the team, fans kept the faith with him far longer than usual.

These are fans, recall, who booed quite loudly when their 3-5 team failed to try and cover the point spread in the final 45 seconds yesterday.

"The people have been fantastic," Moseley said. "They've been sitting on the edge of their chairs hoping I'd break out. And the feeling when I made the first one (against the Saints yesterday) was nothing short of elation.

"But I have been feeling this coming around the last three weeks, that I'd break out of it. I knew it was just a matter of time."

That was before warmups yesterday. Even Moseley admitted he was terrible, not quite shanking the ball in the 40-yards-and-beyond range but missing badly. The last time Moseley was that bad in warmups, against Seattle here, he had gone zero for three in the game.

Yesterday, he told Theismann to tilt the ball a bit more -- and started kicking long and true again. Perhaps it was exactly the minor technical change he needed. Perhaps it was exactly the change that gave his mind a much-needed lift. Nobody probed too hard.

There even were few awkward stares when Moseley said the wind had its helpful aspects. The mental state of hot kicker is not to be tilted.

"A wind makes you concentrate more," he said. "Of course, you have to hit it right all the time. But when you don't hit it good in the wind there's not much chance at all. And the cold helps. It doesn't curve as much when it's cold. The balls weren't walkin' a lot out there today."

As always, Moseley was standing inside his humble quarters in the Redskin locker room. His is the only cubicle not outlined in burgandy-colored wood, the only one with his name not stenciled in large letters.

"I've been here since I got in Washington," he said. "I couldn't complain then -- and I'm too superstitious to change now."

Moseley is inclined toward more-than-normal superstitions. The Eagles once worked quite hard to find someone better than Moseley, then failed with the man they drafted to do it, Happy Feller. Oiler Coach Bill Peterson released Moseley in a parking lot during the season, because he said he had a dream that was proper.

Moseley was in good humor even when he realized some ornery reporters autographed his game ball with Feller's and Peterson's names. Almost anything went yesterday, even a wobbly one-liner from Theismann to former outside linebacker Chris Hanburger.

Where, Hanburger, microphone in hand, wondered, was Moseley's locker?

"In that side of the room," Theismann said, motioning in the proper direction. "It's the eccentrics' area. We tried to get you over there for years, but you wouldn't go."

When Moseley arrived for his postgame audience, he walked through what seemed an honor guard of cameras, pencils and microphones. Part of it would be there anyway, for Moseley's foot finances a television and radio show. The rest of the clutter also had been there much of the season, to try and understand the miseries of Moseley.

"Guess I've given you about every kind of story you could ask for," he said.And he had been as sad earlier in the season as he was happy yesterday.

And as realistic.

Was the infamous monkey finally off his back?

"I don't think it ever is," he admitted. "Not with field goal kickers. You're only as good as your last kick. What you do this week doesn't matter next week. I've missed 10 or 11 already. You can't be missing 'em like I was.

"Hey, I've already missed my quota for the year."