Gibbs, Players Celebrate Big Win

Redskins 35, As Joe Gibbs walked off the field, he pointed to the crowd, first giving various sections a thumbs-up. Then, as he got closer to the tunnel, he started blowing them kisses. Jon Jansen ran behind him, raising his helmet and the largest smile of his seven-year career.Giants 20--

Thanks to two straight home wins, including a 35-20 win over the Giants Saturday, the Redskins have become the hottest team in the NFC. Or, at least, the second hottest behind Seattle. And it's cause for celebration.

Not that the Redskins have clinched anything. But they certainly can sense what's about to happen, if they can win at Philadelphia.

‘'It has been an extremely tough road,'' Lemar Marshall said. ‘'We went through an emotional roller coaster and we are now at a high. It's been great to win four games in a row.''

The Redskins received strong performances from Ray Brown among others. The 43-year-old Brown made sure the loss of right guard Randy Thomas wasn't devastating. He pulled when needed, occasionally getting to the linebackers. He power blocked and turned his man.

And Patrick Ramsey entered off the bench for injured Mark Brunell in the third quarter to finish the game, even throwing a 72-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss, which gave Washington a 28-17 lead – and came minutes after Renaldo Wynn blocked a field goal. Ramsey might have to quarterback the Redskins in the finale, pending Brunell's MRI on Monday. He could be a late-week decision.

‘'Mark has played so well, which has given me such a great example to follow,'' Ramsey said. ‘'He has been efficient for us and I have learned many things from him. We need to hope he gets back and is able to play for us.''

Said Gibbs, ‘'That's the reason we put a lot of attention into our quarterbacks and what kind of depth we have is a big deal. Here's one of the biggest games I've ever been at and Patrick has to go in and try and win it for us. That's how important the second position is. I've appreciated how Patrick has handled the situation all year. It says a lot about his character.''

Versatility: It's fun watching the Redskins' safeties work because of how Gregg Williams takes advantage of their versatility. They line Pierson Prioleau in the slot (yes, he got beat once, but he's lined up there often the past couple weeks); they use Sean Taylor as a linebacker with two other safeties deep. It adds speed and athleticism. It also has to confuse a young quarterback.

Status unknown: Quarterback Mark Brunell exited the game with a sprained right knee and was not moving well in the locker room afterward, partly because of a brace. It's never good when a 35-year-old QB has a sprained knee and is about to get an MRI.

Trouble in NY: The Giants are a frustrated bunch. Receiver Plaxico Burress is upset that he's not getting more tosses his way; his body language on the field gives away his feelings at times. Bob Whitfield is upset that he's playing right tackle. And the passing game is not producing.

Then again: If Burress holds onto the ball on the Giants' first possession, it's a touchdown and perhaps a different game. He was wide, wide open having run past Ryan Clark.

Touching scene: As Randy Thomas walked off the field on crutches before the game, he stopped just before entering the tunnel, took off his cap and waved to the crowd who gave him a standing ovation. This is killing Thomas, but he's been able to put the team and its success above his situation. It's hard to dislike a guy like that.

Offensive star: The O-line did it again and the running game was outstanding. But receiver Santana Moss caught five passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns. Every time the Giants covered him solo, he torched them. And that loosened up the defense, allowing Portis to have more success. Moss is dangerous because if you play off him, he'll destroy you with the extra yards. But if you play on him, he can blow past you.

Portis numbers: Clinton Portis set a Redskins record by surpassing 100 yards for the eighth time this season. With 1,391 yards, he's now less than 50 yards from setting a team record for rushing yards in a season. Stephen Davis set the mark with 1,432 yards in 2001.

Adios: Thanks for playing, Atlanta, here are your parting gifts. The Falcons were eliminated courtesy of the loss in Tampa Bay and the Redskins' victory. Dallas remained alive with its win at Carolina.

Jocularity: Running back Clinton Portis has a theory as to why Santana Moss is able to make such good adjustments on the ball. ‘'He used to play Frisbee with the dogs in college,'' he said.

Frosty: Punter Derrick Frost had his best day as a Redskin, averaging 44.2 yards per punt – and 43.8 yards net. That's outstanding and it was because of good punts, not good rolls. Frost dropped three inside the 10, including one in which he got a terrific backspin.

Tough read: Mark Brunell's decision to try and throw a slant pass to James Thrash wasn't the smartest. Linebacker Chase Blackburn had it played all the way and was in the lane. Brunell had his mind made up too soon and it cost the Redskins.

Coaching: The Redskins did an excellent job of running the same plays out of different formations. This was true on a number of plays. At times the Redskins made it appear that they were going wide, only to have a quick toss inside to Portis for decent yardage. Once, they had a tight end and two receivers to the right and blocked that way. But Portis took a quick pitch to the left around the end for a 19-yard score for the final margin. Because of the formation, the corner and safety on that side both got sucked in too far inside. It made all the difference.

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