'Skins move closer to playoffs

Washington 1 win from clinching 1st berth in 6 years

Redskins 35 Giants 20

Pro Football


LANDOVER -- For weeks, Clinton Portis usually rescued the Washington Redskins. Yesterday, Portis got plenty of help against the NFC East-leading New York Giants.

Santana Moss caught three touchdown passes, with two from Mark Brunell and one from Patrick Ramsey, Renaldo Wynn blocked a potential game-changing field goal and the Redskins' defense kept New York running back Tiki Barber under wraps to propel Washington to a 35-20 win before 90,477 at FedEx Field.

Of course, Portis turned in another solid performance, rushing for 108 yards on 27 carries, running for one touchdown and passing for another.

"It was really a total team effort," coach Joe Gibbs said. "They knew what needed to be done, and they knew they needed to play hard."

The only note of concern was a knee injury that sidelined Brunell for most of the second half. Director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said Brunell sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee when he was sacked by Giants linebacker Nick Greisen just 56 seconds into the third quarter.

Tyer said Brunell would undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam tomorrow, and his status for Sunday's road game against the Philadelphia Eagles is uncertain.

With their fourth consecutive victory, the Redskins improved to 9-6 and are one win away from clinching their first postseason berth in six years. The Dallas Cowboys (9-6) kept their playoff hopes alive by edging the Carolina Panthers, 24-20, but the Atlanta Falcons (8-7) bowed out of the race with a 27-24 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Minnesota Vikings (8-6) can keep pace with Washington and Dallas by defeating the Ravens tonight.

The Redskins also have a chance to capture their first NFC East crown since 1999. If they beat the Eagles on New Year's Day and New York loses to the Oakland Raiders, Washington would win the division with a better divisional record (5-1 vs. 4-2).

"There was more at stake today," said Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who watched a chance for the franchise's first division title since 2000 slip away. "It didn't have to come down to this, but we didn't help ourselves in any way today."

The same could not be said for the Redskins, who eased the memory of the 36-0 loss to New York on Oct. 30. Washington amassed 380 yards of total offense (compared with a season-low 125 in the first meeting), committed one turnover (vs. four), and won the time-of-possession battle by more than six minutes (as opposed to losing it by almost 20 minutes).

Moss tied a career high with touchdown catches of 17, 59 and 72 yards, with the latter coming from Ramsey on the team's second possession of the third quarter.

"It was big for Patrick and it was big for us," Moss said of the score, which gave the Redskins a 28-17 advantage. "You want a guy to come in and really get that confidence going. I wanted to make any and every play that I could for Patrick, knowing that anything I did could elevate his game."

Ramsey completed five of seven passes for 104 yards in his first significant action since starting the season opener against the Chicago Bears. But the offense continued to rely on Portis, who set a franchise single-season record with eight 100-yard games and is just 32 yards away from eclipsing Stephen Davis' single-season rushing mark of 1,432 yards in 2001.

On the other side, Barber, the league's second-leading rusher before yesterday, was limited to 80 yards on 16 carries and didn't compile 100 rushing yards for the first time in six games.

"Washington has the momentum and a deep-seated desire, and they have a purpose," Barber said. "It showed in how they played today. They played with a different level of intensity, and we didn't match that."

Notes -- Linebacker Chris Clemons also sprained the MCL in his knee, and Tyer said his injury is considered more serious than Brunell's. Tyer said Clemons will also undergo an MRI tomorrow. Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn, who returned a 31-yard interception for a touchdown in the first quarter, left the game late in the third quarter while leading with his helmet in an attempt to tackle H-back Chris Cooley. Blackburn was found to have a neck sprain and was moving his arms as he was being carted off the field. ... Cornerback Carlos Rogers (torn biceps) and safety Matt Bowen (sprained knee) were the only injury-related inactive players for Washington, which also deactivated defensive linemen Ryan Boschetti and Aki Jones, wide receiver Jimmy Farris, running back Nehemiah Broughton and linebacker Robert McCune. The Giants played without linebackers Antonio Pierce (high ankle sprain) and Carlos Emmons (torn pectoral), offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie (strained hamstring) and defensive tackle William Joseph (sprained ankle).edward.lee@baltsun.com

N.Y. Giants 10 7 3 0-20

Washington 14 7 7 7-35

First quarter Was-Moss 17 pass from Brunell (Hall kick), 6:02. NYG-FG Feely 47, 3:10. NYG-Blackburn 31 interception return (Feely kick), 2:20. Was-Moss 59 pass from Brunell (Hall kick), :13.

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