- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 14, 2006

He is 17-5 in the playoffs, owns three Super Bowl rings and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He will be facing a team that hasn’t won a postseason game since 1984 and has never reached the sport’s ultimate game.

But that means squat to Joe Gibbs entering the Washington Redskins’ NFC Divisional playoff game today at Seattle.

Gibbs doesn’t see the Seahawks’ playoff futility. He sees a team that rested last week while the Redskins gutted out a 17-10 win at Tampa Bay in the wild-card round.

“I would rather play Omaha State or somebody,” he said.

Since Omaha State doesn’t exist and the San Francisco 49ers have packed up for the winter, that “somebody” is Seattle, which won a franchise-record 13 games, earning a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

The Redskins (11-6), with an offense that set a record for ineffectiveness last week, will be playing their seventh consecutive must-win game and their third straight on the road.

Throw in the fact a No. 6 seed has never won a divisional round game and it doesn’t look good for the Redskins.

But they’re embracing the opportunity and remain confident. Despite Seattle’s gaudy statistics, the Redskins took a why-not-us attitude on their cross-country flight Thursday night.

“We’ve got nothing to lose,” safety Ryan Clark said. “[Nine-and-a-half-point] underdogs. Best team in the NFC. At their stadium. But we’ll be out there on Saturday and see what happens. We’ve got a lot of underdog guys on the team. We thrive on it and relish it.”

For every player with a monster contract on the Redskins — Mark Brunell, Clinton Portis, LaVar Arrington — there are players like Clark and Lemar Marshall who survived being cut or buried on another team’s practice squad to play key roles for the Redskins.

But the Redskins, looking to make their first NFC Championship game since the 1991 season, also have everything to gain.

Just ask Brunell. He helped Jacksonville to the AFC Championship game after 1996 and 1999 seasons. The Jaguars lost both times, and he hasn’t been back since.

Just ask Arrington. It took him six seasons to reach the postseason, and he responded with an interception last week. No matter what his future holds, he doesn’t want this ride to end just yet.

Just ask Gibbs. Lured out of retirement two years ago this week, he’s in search of a sixth conference title game appearance.

“I know my feelings are the same,” he said. “I was scared to death then, and I’m scared to death now.”

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