You follow Art Monk around the Redskins clubhouse for 45 minutes or so after a game and end up feeling a lot like NFL defensive backs: Reporters can't cover the guy, either.

Some players all but wrestle you to the floor to get a quote in the paper; Monk had to be coaxed to meet the press yesterday after setting single-game club records for receptions (13) and yards (230).

"I don't like publicity," he says. "I'm not against it, but it's not my nature (to seek it out)."

There were dozens of newshounds probing Monk after the 27-24 victory, and everybody was as unsuccessful at grabbing a snappy one-liner as Louis Breeden had been in swatting away the ball.

Poor Breeden. Like ground-in dirt, the left cornerback is tough to shed for most receivers; Monk beat him for 48 yards on the game's fourth play from scrimmage -- and the Bengals were tame tigers thereafter.

"They showed a lot of weaknesses," Monk said. "We knew if we could take advantage of them, we'd be successful."

Now there, it would seem, is a genuine four-alarm quote. Haul out the large type: "Monk Blasts Bengals." Then you realize that Cincinnati came into the game with the fourth-most-porous defense in the entire NFL.

You shake your head. Patiently, politely, Monk has given you the slip once more. Being resourceful, you do what Breeden would like to have done more often: yell for a little help.

"He's got to be the awesomest receiver in the league," said the other wideout, Gary Clark. "He had every tough catch that could be made. He's surrounded sometimes -- and still gets free."

Still vivid was Monk catching that short pass from Jay Schroeder with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Redskins nursing that three-point lead.

It was one of those safe passes designed to get most of the seven yards needed for a first down and also milk the clock.

Monk grabbed the ball at the Redskins' 26, danced through one or two tacklers and dashed 41 yards in all.

"Most receivers would have been satisfied with a few yards," said Redskins tight end Rick Walker. "Art showed his class. He's hitting home runs for us these last several games. He's like Reggie (Jackson).

"Down the (playoff) stretch, he'll prove to be right there with any receiver you can think of."

"It does seem like he was our whole offense for a while," Rick Donnalley said. Donnalley also was replaying several of Monk's catches -- and smiling.

"He breaks three of four tackles," Donnalley said, "and then when the fourth guy finally brings him down, Art's mad."

Joe Jacoby also was delighted by Monk's madness in traffic.

"We're taught to break on the ball (on those short passes over the middle)," the enormous tackle said. "But he's usually already taken off by the time we get there, and he's kind of hard to catch up to and block for."

The catch Jacoby most admired was the one 48-yarder that Monk twisted from Breeden to grab with slightly less than three minutes left before halftime.

Slightly underthrown, the pass seemed certain to be incomplete; Monk managed to slip inside Breeden and make a diving catch. With a far easier chance, Monk clutched a four-yard pass in the end zone and the best comeback ever under Coach Joe Gibbs was under way.

"Yes," Bengals Coach Sam Wyche admitted, "I have seen him play like this before -- on practically every film we studied."

"You call his number and he's there," Gibbs said. "For the last six weeks, he's stood up and made the plays when we've had to have them. He's a star, an absolute star."

Statistically, Monk said, emphasizing the word, this was his most memorable game. Others have been more satisfying.

"Dallas last year," he said of the playoff-clinching road victory over the Cowboys. "To me, that game meant a lot more. That winning feeling is so much greater."

Monk listened as the impromptu-completion angle was explored. You know the one: Receiver notices he can beat his man with a couple of zigs this way and a quick hitch toward the brunette cheerleader. The quarterback gets excited, draws it up in the dirt for the rest of the offense and it soon fetches a huge gain.

"Actually," Monk said, "the coaches realized I was hot. I'll mention potentially big plays, but today we were in situations we'd already seen on film."

There were a few plays, such as sprintouts, that Schroeder's cracked ribs made close to impossible to execute. And the Redskins tried to run the ball whenever possible to protect the quarterback.

"We should have ended the game (after that short completion-long run by Monk late in the fourth quarter)," Walker said. Being themselves, the Redskins failed to breathe easily until Jim Breech's 51-yard field goal fell short with seven seconds left.

Schroeder praised Monk for holding onto a few balls most receivers only touch; Monk gushed over the ailing Schroeder for getting the ball close enough to be caught.

Walker thought a touch of humility might be in order and remembered a slightly high pass late in the first quarter that had gone through Monk's hands.

"But 13 of 14," Walker said, "that's big."