Notebook: Gibbs knows winners

<b>PITTSBURGH - </b> Joe Gibbs has seen some things. Won some things and seen some things. And he likes what he sees in this year's Steelers.

"First of all," Gibbs said, "their defense is playing as good as anybody I've seen. They are No. 1 in the league. When you look at teams like Philadelphia - we have great respect for Philadelphia. We played them last week. They beat us and to think they were held to 113 yards total offense.

"You have a bunch of guys over there that are flying around. They are very good athletes."

The Redskins lost to the Eagles last week, 28-6, and were outgained 334-213.

The Steelers beat the Eagles on Nov. 7, 27-3, and outgained them 420-113.

In the first year of a celebrated return to the Redskins, Gibbs won three titles in 12 seasons. He thinks the Steelers have what it takes.

"You have, I think, an outstanding, young, bright quarterback that is also athletic and makes plays running around besides having a terrific arm," Gibbs said.

"The thing that impressed me the most against Philadelphia - we looked at that film and studied it hard - is (the Steelers) are very, very physical. They knock you back. Our special teams coach thinks they are one of the better special teams. I would say that coach (Bill) Cowher has himself a heck of a football team. We realize we are probably going to be the biggest underdog we've been."

Gibbs is right. The Steelers are favored by 10-and-a-half points. The previous high (or low) was the previous week when the Eagles were favored over the Redskins by 10 points. The Redskins had not been more than 3-point underdogs prior to that game.

Sounding like the question asked of Alan Faneca about playing with a rookie quarterback, a reporter asked Gibbs if he welcomes the challenge of turning the 3-7 Redskins around.

"Do I welcome it?" Gibbs said. "I would prefer to just have it easy. I would prefer to be 9-1 right now. I would like for coach Cowher to have to go through this, not me."

Faneca's name was in fact brought up to Gibbs. Could the Steelers' All-Pro guard have fit in with Russ Grimm and the legendary "Hogs" of Redskins' lore?

"Yes," Gibbs said. "I think we had an unusual group there. I enjoyed them. They were fun. They had a great sense of humor. If you look at that group, Russ is a good example of what they were - super-smart. Every single one of those guys was super-smart, plus they were obviously great hearts in character. That is kind of what you build around. That is what we are looking for with this go-around, those kinds of guys that you can build a franchise around."

The Redskins went into the season as the highest-paid team in NFL history. They might come out of it with the franchise's least production in almost 70 years.

The Redskins have yet to score more than 18 points in any of their 10 games this season. Only one other Redskins team was worse. The 1935 Redskins could not score more than 14 points in a 2-8-1 season.

The Redskins' offensive problems begin up front, where right tackle Jon Jansen was lost in the first few minutes of the preseason and right guard was lost last week with a hamstring injury.

Back-up right tackle Ray Brown will move to right guard today and rookie 5th-round pick Mark Wilson of Cal will make his first appearance at right tackle.

The Steelers believed Wilson was better suited to guard last draft, and that he'll have trouble with speed rushers. As for Brown, who'll turn 42 next week, "You could play better than him," said one team official.

As a result, the production of running star Clinton Portis has steadily declined. He hasn't scored a touchdown in six games and was held to 37 yards on 17 carries last week by the soft Eagles.

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey isn't helping matters. Criticized for holding onto the ball too long, Ramsey was sacked 30 times in 11 games last season, and this season, his third in the league, the former first-round draft pick has been sacked eight times in two relief appearances and last week's start.

Out for the Steelers are wide receiver Plaxico Burress, inside linebacker Kendrell Bell, cornerback Chad Scott and back-up defensive end Brett Keisel. Game-time decisions will be made on reserves James Harrison, Chidi Iwuoma and Jay Riemersma.

The Redskins will be without linebackers LaVar Arrington and Mike Barrow, defensive end Phillip Daniels, guard Thomas and reserve defensive lineman Jermaine Haley.

Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, the Redskins' sack leader with four, is expected to play. Place kicker John Hall will return from a 5-game absence due to a groin injury.

Arrington, of North Hills High and Penn State, was described by The Washington Post as "distraught" because he won't be able to play his second career game in Pittsburgh.

"They are going to my hometown, man, without me," Arrington said. "That's rough. I don't even know if I want to go."

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