- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 6, 2008

SEATTLE — When Antwaan Randle El scored a 7-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in the fourth quarter, he set a personal high with 10 catches in a game.

The touchdown also moved the Washington Redskins within one score at 13-7 of the Seattle Seahawks yesterday in their wild card playoff game.

The Redskins lost 35-14, but Randle El — a former quarterback at Indiana — was the team’s top offensive player with 94 yards receiving. The touchdown matched his total during the regular season.

“We knew they would be doing a whole lot to try to take away Santana [Moss], but we still got going,” Randle El said. “They took some of that deep stuff, and I was still able to get open on some of the medium routes.”

On a day in which the running game struggled, quarterback Todd Collins routinely found Randle El for short gains to keep drives alive. Randle El had five first-down catches, the longest for 19 yards.

The game capped a career year for Randle El, who set personal highs with 51 catches and 728 yards during the regular season. He more than doubled his yardage output from last season — his first with Washington — when he had 351 yards receiving on 32 catches.

Though he has not been the breakaway threat the Redskins had hoped for when they signed him as a free agent away from Pittsburgh in 2006, Randle El has been a solid complement alongside No. 1 receiver Moss.

However, the career day and strong individual season did little to lessen the team’s disappointment.

“It is disbelief,” Randle El said. “This is it for a while. It is a terrible feeling after all we have been through and all the opportunities we had today.”

A loss but not lost

Dealing with plenty of adversity — including the death of safety Sean Taylor — the Redskins rallied from a 5-7 record, winning their last four games to reach the postseason.

“You hurt for losing for one thing,” Moss said. “You have it in the back of your head that you wish you could’ve done a little more for Sean. What it all boils down to is you hurt for going out there and not being successful this time of year. All I can say is we did all we can. We fought hard.”

Before the season-ending surge, Washington had lost four straight and appeared to be out of the playoff picture.

After Taylor’s murder, the Redskins had a built-in excuse to finish poorly. Instead, his memory became their rallying cry.

“This team came together more than anything,” said Randle El, who played on last season’s 5-11 team. “We look back last year at Week 14 and 15, and we were never as close as we were this year. A lot of that has to do with the loss of Sean.”

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