- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 11, 2001

The Washington Redskins could still win the NFC East title, gain a wild card or miss the playoffs with four games remaining.
Finishing 4-0 for a 10-6 mark doesn't guarantee Washington a postseason berth, though a wild card would be probable. Conversely, the Redskins could overcome a loss and still make the postseason at 9-7. Tiebreaker scenarios make a tax stimulus package look simple.
"If we win out, it will work itself out," linebacker LaVar Arrington said. "If we don't win there's no beyond. Beyond is looking at my TV of everybody else playing. You can't get too far ahead or you start stumbling."
The Redskins (6-6) face the Philadelphia Eagles (8-4) on Sunday in a final bid for the division crown. A Redskin victory cuts the deficit to one game with three remaining and gives Washington the tiebreaker should the two finish with the same record. However, the Eagles will clinch the NFC East title with a victory and New York Giants loss.
The Redskins trail Tampa Bay (7-5) and New Orleans (7-5) and are tied with Atlanta (6-6) for the final wild card. Head-to-head is the first tiebreaker and the Redskins face New Orleans on Dec. 30. Tampa Bay is 6-3 in the NFC with three conference games remaining, New Orleans is 5-3 with four left, Atlanta is 6-5 with one remaining and Washington is 4-4 with four left as their first tiebreaker.
The Redskins are once again scoreboard watching after beating the Arizona Cardinals 20-10 on Sunday. Rebounding off the 20-14 loss to Dallas on Dec. 2 that ended a 5-0 streak, Washington has restarted its bid to become the first 0-5 team to reach the playoffs.
"I don't think we ever lost confidence," kicker Brett Conway said. "We just didn't play well against Dallas. The confidence is still there. We know we're a good football team."
Said Arrington: "People were laughing at us before. 'How bad are they going to lose today?' Now it's 'How much closer are we getting to the playoffs?' It's exciting to come from so far away because 0-5 is a long ways away. We could easily be 0-12."
The stretch run isn't easy. The Redskins face Philadelphia, Chicago (9-3), New Orleans and Arizona in successive weeks.
"If you want to be truthful, we're still 6-6," tight end Walter Rasby said. "I look at the rest of the four games as a playoff. If we lose one of these games it's going to set us back."
The Redskins are braced for a typical divisional smashmouth game after beating Philadelphia 13-3 at Veterans Stadium on Nov. 25. It's always a close, physical game, but this one may be more so. The Redskins expect the Eagles to seek redemption for their only loss in six games.
"There's going to be a whole lot of 'I'm going to bust you in your mouth and let's see who wins,'" Rasby said. "I know they felt that we came up there and came at them real physical. I don't know if they didn't expect it the first time, but they know what's coming, we know what's coming."
The Redskins, Tampa Bay and New Orleans all have three home games remaining. Tampa Bay visits Chicago on Sunday, then closes against New Orleans, Baltimore (8-4) and Philadelphia, respectively. New Orleans plays host to St. Louis (10-2), Washington and San Francisco (9-3) and visits Tampa Bay.
Philadelphia has only one home game over the final month against the New York Giants (5-7) and also travels to San Francisco and Tampa Bay. Atlanta plays host only to Buffalo (2-10) and visits Indianapolis (4-7), Miami (8-3) and St. Louis.
Coach Marty Schottenheimer doesn't expect to gain the wild card by getting help from other contenders.
"Ultimately, the only one way to get there is on merit," he said. "We can't afford a misstep."

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