- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2005

The genius tag that used to hang around the neck of more than a few NFL coaches is awfully tarnished these days.Seattle’s Mike Holmgren, who guided Green Bay to Super Bowls after the 1996 and 1997 seasons, has lost four straight postseason games since.

Denver’s Mike Shanahan, who succeeded Holmgren as the coaching glamour boy by winning Super Bowls after the 1997 and 1998 seasons, lost his third straight postseason game when Indianapolis bludgeoned the Broncos on Sunday.

Dallas’ Bill Parcells is a Hall of Fame cinch, but he’s 1-3 in the playoffs dating to his Super Bowl loss with New England after the 1996 season. Washington’s Joe Gibbs already is enshrined in Canton, but he lost his last playoff game in 1992. Kansas City’s Dick Vermeil is 0-1 in postseason play since winning a Super Bowl with St. Louis after the 1999 season.

San Diego’s first-round loss to the New York Jets was Marty Schottenheimer’s fifth straight defeat in the playoffs and dropped him to 5-12. Schottenheimer has been one-and-done in eight of his 12 postseasons. Like Schottenheimer, Arizona’s Dennis Green (4-8) often makes the playoffs but has yet to reach the Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh’s Bill Cowher starts this year’s playoff run tomorrow against the New York Jets with a 7-8 mark. Two of the seven other coaches who are still in the playoffs, Minnesota third-year man Mike Tice and Atlanta newcomer Jim Mora, are in their first postseasons. The Colts’ Tony Dungy is 5-6, the Jets’ Herman Edwards 2-2, the Rams’ Mike Martz 3-3 and Philadelphia’s Andy Reid 5-4. Only Cowher and Martz have reached Super Bowls, and both lost.

So New England’s Bill Belichick clearly is the reigning playoff king with two Super Bowl trophies and a 7-1 postseason mark.

Moss rolls on — His controversial antics, lack of sportsmanship and attention-grabbing hair aside, there’s no denying Randy Moss can play — as he showed again with two touchdowns despite a gimpy leg in Minnesota’s upset of Green Bay on Sunday.

Not only is Moss on record paces for career receiving yards and touchdowns, the moody wideout also gets it done in postseason. In seven playoff games, Moss has 32 catches for 672 yards (a 21.0 average) and nine touchdowns. He has scored in six of those seven games, the exception being the 2000 NFC Championship game, when the Vikings were shut out by the Giants.

No hard feelings — New Cleveland general manager Phil Savage has interviewed six candidates for the team’s coaching vacancy: interim coach Terry Robiskie, New England defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, Philadelphia offensive coordinator Brad Childress and Pittsburgh offensive line coach Russ Grimm (a finalist in Chicago last winter), as well as Baltimore defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and former Miami interim coach Jim Bates, with whom he has previously worked. Savage said he’s looking for a coach who can prepare a team, develop talent and make adjustments on the fly during a game and during a season.

Chris Palmer, the expansion Browns’ first coach and now Houston’s offensive coordinator, believes the team that fired him after two seasons will find the right man.

“Randy’s a good guy who’ll do whatever it takes to put a team on the field that Browns’ fans can be proud of,” Palmer said of owner Randy Lerner. “Randy’s very, very bright. He’ll do it the right way. He’s going to get his people in there, and I hope they’ll get it corrected.”

Harbingers? — Philadelphia (13-3) and Atlanta (11-5) face lesser lights Minnesota (9-8) and St. Louis (9-8), respectively, while Pittsburgh (15-1) and New England (14-2) figure to have tougher challenges in the Jets (11-6) and Indianapolis (13-4), respectively. However, recent history says the odds favor the Steelers and Patriots.

During the past five seasons, 25 of the 30 top-four seeds that won their last regular season games (as the Steelers and Patriots did) also won their playoff openers. However, just six of the 10 top-four seeds that lost their last regular season games — as the Eagles and Falcons did — bounced back to win their playoff openers.

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