Big day puts Redskins in fast company

While Moss, Brunell rise to top, Gibbs likes balance Washington offense has achieved

Pro football

October 25, 2005|By EDWARD LEE | EDWARD LEE,SUN REPORTER

ASHBURN, Va. -- Santana Moss doesn't care for labels. That's why the Washington Redskins wide receiver is loath to begin calling the offense prolific.

"Unless you go out there and win the Super Bowls that teams have won or unless you go out there and kill teams the way that the Indianapolis Colts offense had been doing all last season, then you can give those teams that name," said Moss, one of the few players to show up at Redskins Park yesterday after coach Joe Gibbs gave them the day off. "Until then, there's nothing to go out and call someone or call this team that. I think we just need to keep playing the way we're playing, stay humble, stay focused, and everything will work itself out."

But after demolishing the San Francisco 49ers, 52-17, on Sunday, Washington (4-2) boasts gaudy numbers in several offensive individual and team categories.

Gaining a season-high 457 yards against San Francisco (1-5) propelled the Redskins to second in the league in average yards per game (387.2). The offense is second in third-down efficiency (41 of 89 for 46.1 percent).

Moss leads the league with 743 receiving yards, while quarterback Mark Brunell is first in the NFC and tied with the Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning for third in the league with a 98.3 passer rating.

Yet Gibbs preferred to focus on the balance struck by the offense. The unit is fourth in the league in rushing (139.8) and eighth in passing (247.3).

"The best thing you can have is good balance," Gibbs said. "If people respect the passing game, they give you more chances to rush the football. If they think you can rush it, then obviously the pressure's on because there'll be times when they have to get somebody else involved in the box up there to stop your running."

Perhaps the biggest surprise has been the play of Brunell, 35, who has thrown 12 touchdown passes against two interceptions while completing 58.6 percent of his passes.

Gibbs, who was criticized for pursuing Brunell before the 2004 season and sticking with him despite a 3-6 record as a starter last year, said he did not take any extra satisfaction in Brunell's performances.

"I just feel happy for Mark, happy for the football team," Gibbs said. "I think what happens up here is that there are so many decisions that are made, and you come to the reality that if you don't win games, then you've got to realize that there's going to be some criticism. That's just part of what happens up here."

Meanwhile, one of the first people LaVar Arrington visited at Redskins Park yesterday was director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer, and that was fine with Arrington.

"Happy to be sore," said Arrington, who had a sore hamstring. "Never thought I'd be so happy to be coming into the training room the next day. It's a good feeling."

The three-time Pro Bowl linebacker was in high spirits after leading the defense in tackles with nine against San Francisco on Sunday. Arrington, who had participated in just two defensive snaps and two punt coverage packages in the previous three games, said he was pleased with his mobility, particularly on a tackle of wide receiver Rasheed Marshall on an end-around for a 7-yard loss in the third quarter.

"I was pretty impressed on being able to get the reverse," Arrington said. "Normally, it would have taken me a little while longer to get to it. I might've got to it, but it would've been probably further downfield or something."

Said Gibbs: "It was good getting him in there. To me, he made some plays."

In other injury news, defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin's strained hip flexor appears to be the most serious issue and he could miss some practice this week, but Tyer said Griffin might be ready to play Sunday against the New York Giants.

Defensive tackles Joe Salave'a (plantar fasciitis), Cedric Killings (high ankle sprain) and Aki Jones (sore hamstring) are expected to play. Safety Sean Taylor (sprained ankle), cornerback Carlos Rogers (sprained ankle) and kicker John Hall (strained quadriceps) are day-to-day, according to Tyer.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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