Turning Point: Moss' Early TD Gets It Going

Turning Point--Redskins vs. Jaguars--With its offense in need of a lift and its quarterback in need of a confidence boost, Santana Moss gave the Redskins both in the first quarter on Sunday.

They were only trailing 3-0, but there was a feeling of unease about the Washington Redskins. Mark Brunell had thrown a horrible interception. A flea flicker on their first offensive series had blown up, with Brunell throwing the ball right to cornerback Rashean Mathis. Although the Washington defense held and Jacksonville got just a field goal out of the turnover, the bad throw, which was off of Brunell's back foot, seemed to be an early sign that the quarterback's sharp performance in Houston seven days ago was an aberration and that the "real" Brunell was back.

Starting from their own 28, Clinton Portis got things going with a run on a draw play for 12 yards. This was a strong statement as the play went up the middle, where the Jags' two tackles, Marcus Stroud and John Henderson were supposed to keep things bottled up. But Derrick Dockery and Randy Thomas handled their massive assignments perfectly and without help, pushing open a nice hole for Portis to run through.

On first and ten, Portis got the handoff again. He was heading off left tackle but he saw daylight between Chris Samuels and Dockery and cut upfield in between them for a gain of four. Portis went up the middle for a yard on the next play, setting up third and five at the Washington 45. At that point, Portis had 17 yards rushing with about six minutes gone in the game. Jags' linebacker Mike Peterson had foolishly predicted that his team would hold Portis to 20 yards. Presumably, the time frame he was referring to was the entire game, not just a tenth of it.

Moss lined up in the slot on the right side, split about five yards from the tackle. Cornerback Brian Williams had tight coverage and rode Moss down to the legal limit of five yards. Moss stopped 10 yards downfield and came back towards the line. Brunell fired to ball in to in and Moss made the catch at the numbers about seven yards downfield. Williams came up to make the tackle, but Moss eluded him by circling back towards the line. For a brief moment he was a few feet behind the line for the first down but he quickly turned upfield and bolted across the middle of the field.

He didn't have any obstacles until he was near the 30. Portis came flying in and Moss cut behind him. Portis finished off a defender who had nearly been faked to his knees already, the popped up to his feet, looking to throw another block. Chris Cooley and Brandon Lloyd took out their men, leaving Moss running free.

Moss had one more man to beat, safety Deon Grant. He dispatched the defender with quick spin move and stiff-arm at the 12 and he zoomed into the end zone. Portis did get another block in at the 10, but the defender he knocked down couldn't have caught Moss had he been wearing a rocket pack.

The crowd was ignited, the interception was forgotten and the offensive explosion against one of the league's best defenses was underway.


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