Santana Moss loves Texas Stadium. Two years after he stunned the Dallas Cowboys with two late touchdown catches in his second game as a Washington Redskin, Moss bedeviled the Cowboys again with nine catches, 121 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 28-23 loss.
Moss came close to making it two scores, but quarterback Jason Campbell overthrew him on a post route from the Dallas 19-yard line in the closing minutes.
"We were inches away," Moss said. "That's the game. It's plays like that that separate us from being 9-1. Only (New England) really beat our behinds. There's always a could've, should've until you go out and do it."
What made Moss' performance even more impressive was that he had missed the previous game with a bruised heel so painful that he couldn't even stand to wear a shoe on it last Wednesday.
Moss, the Redskins' No. 1 receiver during his first two years in Washington, came into the game with just 24 catches for 297 yards and no touchdowns after missing two games (one with a strained groin). He trailed both fellow wideout Antwaan Randle El and tight end Chris Cooley in receiving yards.
Moss, who had nine catches for 228 yards and those two unforgettable touchdowns in his two previous games in Dallas for Washington, didn't have a catch in the first half Sunday.
However, Moss caught a 17-yard pass on the first play of the second half, and it was off to the races after that. His huge day included a gorgeous, one-handed stab on the next series and a 32-yarder that set up a field goal later in the quarter.
"As the game goes, you can see the matchups that you want to try to take advantage of," Campbell said. "We tried to get Santana the ball. Once he got into the flow of the game, he was in a groove."
Moss, who tends to be laid-back, wasn't quite that complimentary.
"It wasn't so much pain that I couldn't do nothing, just soreness here and there, and you fight through it," Moss said. "I'm not 100 percent, but at 80 percent, I'm still pretty good. I was just happy to be a part of it today."
On Monday, Moss said his heel was feeling terrible but that it wouldn't keep him from playing at Tampa.
"As long as I can do what I do on Sundays with it and help my team, I'm all for it," Moss said. "How I feel the next day, I'll deal with it the next day."
--T Todd Wade is hopeful that the sprained left MCL he suffered at Dallas will be sufficiently recovered for him to remain in the lineup.
"If there was a game in two days, there's no way (I would play)," said Wade, who was hurt late in the first half of the 28-23 loss at Dallas and only lasted a few plays in the third quarter before yielding to rookie Stephon Heyer. "I hope not (to) miss a game."
Wade missed a game with a sprained MCL while playing for Miami in 2001.
--The other starter who was hurt in Dallas and missed some time, DT Cornelius Griffin, is in better shape. Griffin injured an ankle and a foot but missed fewer than two full series.
"It hurt like (heck) on the plane last night, but I'm walking a lot better now," Griffin said Monday. "I'll be pain-free by (Tuesday)."
--LB Marcus Washington, who had missed four of the previous five games with a pulled hamstring, made it through his first start since being injured on Oct. 7 against the Lions.
--WR Antwaan Randle El sprained a bone in his chest but didn't miss any action, and director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer expects him to ready for Tampa Bay. Tyer said that the same is true of MLB London Fletcher, who didn't come out after bruising ribs. Neither Randle El nor Fletcher has ever missed a game.
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
--RT Todd Wade will miss some practice due to the left knee sprain he suffered against the Cowboys.
--DT Cornelius Griffin's sprained ankle and foot suffered against the Cowboys was already better Monday.
--WR Antwaan Randle El sprained a bone in his chest against Dallas but is expected to start at Tampa Bay.
--MLB London Fletcher bruised ribs in the third quarter but kept playing.
--FS Sean Taylor is recovering well from the right knee sprain he suffered against Philadelphia. He is doubtful for Tampa Bay.
--WR James Thrash is questionable due to a high ankle sprain that kept him out at Dallas.
REPORT CARD VS. COWBOYS
PASSING OFFENSE: A-minus -- A week after throwing three touchdowns for the first time, QB Jason Campbell set career highs with 33 completions, 54 passes and 348 yards. WRs Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El and Keenan McCardell combined for 21 catches and 250 yards. TE Chris Cooley had eight catches for 89 yards. The negatives were Campbell's forced late interception and yet another fumble on a sack on which DeMarcus Ware beat LT Chris Samuels.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus -- Clinton Portis, who had run for 333 yards the previous two games to move into third place in the NFL in rushing, managed just 36 yards on 12 carries. The line didn't open many holes for the backs. Campbell scrambled nicely twice for 18 yards.
PASS DEFENSE: D-minus -- Through nearly three quarters, Washington was solid. But Cowboys WR Terrell Owens took advantage of injured FS Sean Taylor's absence over the next 11 minutes to torch the Redskins for TDs of 31, 46 and 52 yards. CB Shawn Springs, S Reed Doughty, S Pierson Prioleau and LB London Fletcher all failed to stop Owens. DLE Phillip Daniels had Washington's only sack. Fletcher had a spectacular interception.
RUSH DEFENSE: B -- Led by Fletcher and fellow LBs Marcus Washington and Rocky McIntosh, the Redskins did an excellent job on the Cowboys' 1-2 punch of Marion Barber and Julius Jones, holding them to 70 yards on 24 carries. Backup DE Demetric Evans provided the coup de grace by tackling Barber for a 9-yard loss on a botched lateral from QB Tony Romo.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus -- Rock Cartwright built on his status as the NFC's top kickoff returner, averaging 29 yards on five attempts. The coverage units were fine. K Shaun Suisham hit from 31, 44 and 45 yards but just missed from 49. P Derrick Frost had his best game in more a month. Randle El had a 20-yard punt return.
COACHING: B-minus -- Joe Gibbs can still motivate. Playing without Taylor (and three long-term injured starters), the Redskins threw a major scare into the high-flying Cowboys. However, Gibbs remains far too conservative on fourth down after Al Saunders' creative play-calling put the offense in the red zone. Gregg Williams' defensive creativity held Romo and Co. in check for a long stretch.