PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Going back to the basics put Joe Gibbs and
the Washington Redskins back in the playoffs.
Washington (10-6) clinched the NFL's final playoff spot and its
first postseason berth since 1999 with its fifth straight win. The
victory also eliminated Dallas from contention.
"Looking back to 5-6, we talked at that time that if we lost
another game we'd be out," Gibbs said. "Trying to win five
straight is a tough deal, but our guys seemed to understand what it
would take. We went back to the basics."
The Redskins play Tampa Bay (11-5) in an NFC wild-card game next
Saturday in their first playoff game since losing 14-13 to the
Buccaneers in a second-round matchup six years ago.
Just as it did against the Eagles, Washington relied heavily on
its running game behind Portis and a strong defense to turn things
around after losing three straight to fall to 5-6.
"The basics start with playing smart football, not turning it
over and also running the football and playing solid defense,"
quarterback Mark Brunell said. "That's how you win. We've been
doing those things. The first part of the year we weren't."
"We'll go back through and look at all of it," coach Andy Reid
said. "We've got to look at ourselves first, if we're putting guys
in the right position to make plays and did they make the plays."
McMahon, who struggled in his six starts for the injured Donovan
McNabb, made a crucial mistake in the fourth quarter. His poorly
thrown pass was tipped and intercepted by linebacker Lemar
Marshall, putting the ball at the Eagles 22.
On the next play, Portis completely spun around to elude a
tackle in the backfield, cut to the left and sprinted down the
sideline into the end zone to give the Redskins a 24-20 lead.
"That play was designed to lose two yards," Portis said. "I
spun around a guy and it was clear from there."
But it took just two seasons for Gibbs to get the Redskins back
to the winning ways they enjoyed when he was their coach in the 1980s
and early 1990s.
Gibbs led the Redskins to three Super Bowl titles during his
first stint in Washington from 1981-92. His first season back after
a 12-year retirement was a flop, with the Redskins going 6-10 last
year. However, Gibbs made the necessary adjustments after hearing
critics say the game had passed by him.
"I was starting all over," Gibbs said. "It's a tough road up
here and last year, for whatever reason, I probably deserved it
For the depleted Eagles, it was a fitting end to a miserable
season. With McNabb and several other key starters sidelined by
injuries and Terrell Owens banished from the team, Philadelphia was
undermanned and overmatched.
Only 10 players who started in the Eagles' 24-21 loss to New
England in the Super Bowl were on the field against the Redskins.
Still, the Eagles made it difficult for Washington.
"If you give me everybody we had, everybody stays healthy, none
of the stuff goes on, we're talking about a different situation
right now," safety Brian Dawkins said.
The Redskins tied it at 17 on Portis' 2-yard run on the first
drive of the third quarter. A 54-yard catch by Santana Moss to the
Eagles 6 set up the score.
But the Eagles answered with a 35-yard field goal by David Akers
that made it 20-17. The lead held up until McMahon threw another
costly pick, his eighth interception this season.
McMahon threw a 33-yard TD pass to Brown to give the Eagles a
10-7 lead in the first quarter. The two hooked up on an 8-yard
scoring pass to make it 17-7 in the second quarter. An illegal
motion penalty wiped out a TD catch by Brown and the Eagles faced a
third-and-21 after McMahon tripped for a 10-yard loss. But a pass
interference penalty on Shawn Springs gave the Eagles a first down
at the Redskins 11, setting up Brown's second score.
John Hall kicked a 25-yard field goal to cut the deficit to
17-10 before halftime.
Five plays later, Brunell tossed a 4-yard pass to Sellers,
giving the Redskins a 7-3 lead.
The Eagles took a 3-0 lead when Akers' 49-yard field goal hit
the crossbar and went over.
Portis broke Stephen Davis' franchise rushing record of 1,432
yards set in 2001, and Moss topped Bobby Mitchell's 42-year-old
receiving mark of 1,436 yards.
Portis and Moss became the fourth pair of teammates to set
franchise rushing and receiving records in the same season. ... The
Redskins made the playoffs just once after Gibbs retired following
the 1992 season. ... Gibbs was 5-0 this December, improving his
record to 57-18 after Dec. 1. ... Philadelphia was the fifth
straight team to miss the playoffs one season after losing the
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