Redskins Will Gather One Moss

Santana Moss is healthy and hot, and so are the Washington Redskins. He caught only 43 passes for 518 yards and two touchdowns in his first 10 games, missing two games with injuries. But during the current four-game winning streak that has led to Saturday's wild-card playoff game at Seattle, Moss had 18 catches for 290 yards and two touchdowns.

"Early in the year, me and Coach (Joe) Gibbs talked," Moss said. "He knew I was nicked up a little bit. He was like, 'We go as far as you go.' Sometimes you have to get healed. I stayed in the treatment room and made sure I could patch up some of the things that were nicked up and go out there and play my best football. I'm a professional. If I can go out there and be productive regardless of what's bothering me, I will do that."

Moss will also drive defenses crazy with his speed, quickness and anticipation.

"When the ball's in the air, Santana can get it before the defender," Redskins receiver Antwaan Randle El said. "That's one of the things he has that a lot of receivers don't. He can go up a tick early before the defender no matter how tall the defender is and still come down with the ball. He'll be like, 'What happened? Where'd he come from?'"

Moss just has a knack for the big play downfield.

"Santana's a big-play guy," Gibbs said. "When we do get plays over 20 (yards), chances are he's a guy who's going to get a bunch of them. I don't know of anybody that is better adjusting to a deep ball. He has GPS. He can find it when other people can't. He's not a big guy, but he plays big."

Although Moss is listed generously at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, cornerback Shawn Springs has called him a quick jitterbug. Moss has produced 24 of the Redskins' 61 plays of 30 yards or more during his three years in Washington. He had four of the Redskins' eight such plays during the ongoing four-game winning streak, highlighted by touchdowns of 32 yards at Minnesota and 42 against Dallas.

"I just try to get the ball to Santana, put it in the right spot," Redskins quarterback Todd Collins said. "He's a playmaker. He's one of those guys who can change a game."

If he's healthy. Moss was bothered by an abdominal strain during the offseason, a groin injury in training camp, a hamstring in October and a heel in November. But during the past four games with Moss flying, the Redskins have risen from averages of 316 yards and 17.9 points to 356 yards and 22.3 points.

"We're a whole lot better offense (when) they have to send two or three guys to stop Santana," Pro Bowl offensive tackle Chris Samuels said. "If you put one on him, he's going to beat him. He opens a lot of things up for other guys."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The NFL recognized Todd Collins' brilliant December by naming the Redskins' unexpected quarterback the NFC Offensive Player of The Month. Collins has a sterling 106.4 passer rating with five touchdowns, no interceptions, 888 yards and a 63.8 completion percentage. "The attention is fine, (but) it's really not why I play," said Collins, who had thrown just 27 passes in 10 years before replacing an injured Jason Campbell in the Dec. 6 game against Chicago.

--CB Shawn Springs is excited to be going back to Seattle -- where he started from 1997-2003 -- in better shape than he did for the playoff game two years ago, when he had the start of a sports hernia that had sidelined him the previous week at Tampa Bay and would postpone the start of his 2006 season until late October. "I'm a totally different person than I was (then)," said Springs, who has four interceptions during Washington's current four-game winning streak. "I feel a lot better."

--Covering a fourth-quarter kickoff last Sunday against Dallas, reserve WR James Thrash aggravated the left high ankle sprain that sidelined him for four games in November and December. "Hopefully I can do something (Thursday)," said Thrash, wearing a walking boot. "It's not as bad as it was last time."

Thrash missed the Seattle playoff game two years ago after breaking his thumb the week before at Tampa Bay.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3-0 -- Redskins coach Joe Gibbs' record in wild-card playoff games on the road. Washington won at Philadelphia in 1990, at Minnesota in 1992 and at Tampa Bay in 2005.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I love the way he runs the double move. He'll be running full speed and it's like he's sitting in a chair." -- Antwaan Randle El on fellow Redskins receiver Santana Moss.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--WR James Thrash is in a walking boot with a left high ankle sprain. He was on the field for Wednesday's walkthrough.
--QB Jason Campbell remains sidelined with a dislocated kneecap and was only the player not on the field for Wednesday's walkthrough.
--WR Santana Moss caught his 200th pass as a Redskin last week.
--CB Fred Smoot's 99th career start will be his first in the playoffs.
--G Pete Kendall started for Seattle from 1996-2000.

GAME PLAN: The Redskins present plenty of headaches for a quick and solid Seattle defense that laid down last week at Atlanta with nothing to play for after sealing the No. 3 seed. RB Clinton Portis has been running hard and has emerged as another target for Todd Collins, the NFC's hottest QB. WR Santana Moss is a hot downfield threat, while TE Chris Cooley and WR Antwaan Randle El have been effective underneath.

Where the Redskins focused on stopping RB Shaun Alexander during their 2005 playoff matchup, the former MVP has had just two 100-yard games this year, none since September. With the Seahawks ground game faltering, QB Matt Hasselbeck has carried the offensive load, falling just 34 yards shy of 4,000 yards and throwing 28 TDs. Washington will likely try to make Hasselbeck throw when and where he doesn't want to.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Redskins CB Shawn Springs vs. Seahawks WR Deion Branch -- Former Seahawk Springs has had a terrific year, particularly lately with four interceptions in four games and blanking the Giants' Amani Toomer in the game he went pick-less. Branch, the Super Bowl XXXIX MVP, hasn't had a big year but obviously has come up big in postseason.

Redskins OT Stephon Heyer vs. Seahawks DE Patrick Kerney -- Rookie free agent Heyer has shone since becoming a starter, stoning Giants Hall of Fame lock Michael Strahan. Kerney, who had three double-digit sack years in six seasons in Atlanta, had an NFC-best 14 1/2 sacks in his Seattle debut, 10 1/2 at very loud Qwest Field.

Redskins RB Clinton Portis vs. Seahawks MLB Lofa Tatupu -- New QB Todd Collins has been lights out. WR Santana Moss has been great, but Portis remains the heart of the Washington offense. Portis averaged 102 yards the last three games with three TDs. Tatupu, a Pro Bowl pick, has led the Seahawks in tackles in each of his three years.

INJURY IMPACT: If Thrash can't play, veteran WR Keenan McCardell would be active for the first time in three weeks.


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