Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell knows his team is playing on borrowed time if its turnover trend continues. At the moment, the Redskins are minus-11 in turnover margin, tied with Baltimore for next to last in the NFL, and Brunell said he has to do a better job of protecting the ball.

"For me personally, I need to anticipate pressure and tuck the ball away," said Brunell, who has fumbled five times in the 12 sacks he has taken over the last five games. "Many times you feel [the pressure], but the ball is exposed because you're trying to throw it. You're looking to get it back to your body so it won't come out.

"You turn the football over, and you're usually going to lose the football game. Statistics would show if the [takeaway/giveaway] rate is what we have now, you're not winning games. We're beating the odds right now, but you don't like to live like that."

Coach Joe Gibbs didn't share the quarterback's critical self-assessment. "He's playing very, very good," Gibbs said. "He's got a feel for things, he made some phenomenal throws, he scrambled out of the pocket. There's no one else I'd want out there playing for us. I'll say this. I haven't seen anyone play any better with the ball in his hands. He's finding people all over the place. It's pretty powerful stuff."

Interested Spectator

Linebacker LaVar Arrington stayed up to watch the Dallas Cowboys' comeback victory Monday night over the Philadelphia Eagles, but he says it's way too early to count the Eagles (4-5) out of the NFC East race or anoint the Cowboys (6-3) as the division favorite. He also knows the Redskins "still control our own [playoff] destiny."

"We still play Dallas here, but the biggest thing we have to do is take it week to week and not get too far ahead of ourselves," Arrington said during his regular appearance yesterday on John Thompson's radio show on WTEM-980.

Starting Sunday with the first of two home games against Oakland and San Diego, "it's a four-game season, and then a three-game playoff at the end of the year. We need to get these four games going into that three-game playoff."

The Redskins' final three games are against division opponents, including back-to-back home games against Dallas (Dec. 18) and the New York Giants (Dec. 24), followed by the regular season finale at Philadelphia on Jan. 1.