- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 18, 2001

By the time you read this, the Washington Redskins might not be able to lose again and still reach the playoffs.
Last night's New Orleans-St. Louis game, which ended too late for this edition, factored into the Redskins' postseason hopes. A Saints win meant Washington (6-7) could not lose another game and reach the playoffs. A Saints loss meant Washington conceivably could lose one more and get in with lots of help from other teams.
Regardless, Washington's postseason hopes will end this weekend with a loss to Chicago and a Tampa Bay win over New Orleans. The Redskins then would not be able to overcome the Bucs (7-6) for the NFC's final wild card berth, because Tampa Bay would hold a decisive edge in the key tiebreaker, conference record (7-4 to 4-6).
But the Redskins weren't talking about playoff scenarios at Redskin Park. They were going through corrections following Sunday's 20-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, which ended Washington's chance to win the NFC East, and focusing on the Bears (10-3), the conference's surprise team.
"The only thing that we discussed is that we have to win these last three," linebacker Robert Jones said. "If we win the last three, there's nothing else we can do. If we get in, that's great. If not, we have to live with it."
Washington, which is tied with Atlanta and the New York Giants, can take a bit of comfort from the difficult stretch runs of New Orleans and Tampa Bay. After the Saints and Bucs play Sunday, New Orleans plays host to the Redskins and San Francisco, while Tampa Bay plays host to Baltimore and Philadelphia.
Confused by all these scenarios? You're not the only one.
"I never was too good at math," offensive tackle Chris Samuels said. "I just let things take care of themselves."
Injury report
Middle linebacker Kevin Mitchell's sprained ankle was given an MRI. X-rays during the game were negative and Mitchell returned but yesterday his ankle was sore.
The other injury of concern is the bruised knee of running back Stephen Davis. Coach Marty Schottenheimer was unsure whether Mitchell or Davis will practice tomorrow.
If Mitchell cannot play Sunday, veteran Robert Jones will shift from the weak side to the middle and rookie Antonio Pierce will start on the weak side. Jones has played all three positions this season after entering the league as a middle linebacker and spending 1998-2000 on the strong side for Miami.
"If [strongside starter] LaVar [Arrington] goes down or if Mitchell goes down, however it turns out, I've got to fill that role," Jones said. "But I've showed them, regardless of what position, I can be productive."
Each of Sunday's other injured Redskins should be probable for the Bears game. Schottenheimer was unsure whether tight end Stephen Alexander (ankle) or offensive lineman Matt Campbell (knee), each of whom has missed several games, will return this week.
Extra points
The starting job of quarterback Tony Banks remains unquestioned despite an erratic performance against the Eagles. Banks completed 17 of 36 passes for 213 yards with two fourth-quarter interceptions in the red zone. Schottenheimer said he is trying to get each offensive player to be efficient within the system. …
Davis, following Sunday's 24-carry, 111-yard performance, moved into the NFC lead with 275 rushes for 1,116 yards, pending last night's performance of Saints rusher Ricky Williams (261 for 1,055). Two AFC players have more yards than Davis, Kansas City's Priest Holmes (1,267) and the New York Jets' Curtis Martin (1,218), while one has more carries, San Diego rookie LaDainian Tomlinson (298). …
Schottenheimer pointed out several statistics that indicated Washington should have beaten Philadelphia. Among them, 13 of the Redskins' 66 plays went 10 yards or more, they had 155 rushing yards, they held Philadelphia to 2.7 yards per rush and Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb completed just 47.1 percent of his throws.

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