- The Washington Times - Monday, October 10, 2005

They had a 300-yard passer and a 100-yard runner in the same game for the first time in more than three years. They didn’t allow a sack for the first time in 12 games. They racked up 447 yards, their most in more than two years. The only thing Washington’s offense didn’t do in the drenching rain in Denver on Sunday was score enough points to win, falling short 21-19.

“We’re on our way to being a great offense, but right now we’re not scoring any points and that’s the bottom line,” left tackle Chris Samuels said. “I don’t care how many yards you get. To be a great offense, you’ve got to score points.”

That failure to cross the goal line very often — the Redskins are 26th in points and were 30th last year — remains their bugaboo, but the rest of the attack has certainly come to life since Mark Brunell and Santana Moss hooked up for the two long and late touchdown passes (the team’s first touchdowns this season after nearly eight quarters) that stunned Dallas in Week 2.

The next game against Seattle, Washington took the overtime kickoff and drove 55 yards for the game-winning field goal. And Sunday, Brunell marched the Redskins 94 yards to bring them within a missed 2-point conversion of tying the game with 1:09 remaining.

Guard Randy Thomas, who started for playoff teams with the New York Jets in 2001 and 2002, said he never has felt better about a team than he does the 3-1 Redskins.

“Santana, he sparked it, once he caught those two passes,” Samuels said. “That helped our confidence level. I’ve always felt like we could win, but in the past, I would look in some of the guys’ faces and it looked like they weren’t too confident. We’ve cleaned those guys out of here and we’ve got some guys who’ll fight until the whistle blows. We feel like we can’t be beat.”

Coach Joe Gibbs said his team’s intensity in the fourth quarter has been “phenomenal” and has appealed to them to start games in the same manner.

“Our potential is very encouraging,” Gibbs said. “We’re starting to see people respecting the passing game and getting back [to defend it], opening room for the running game.

Running back Clinton Portis averaged 5.2 yards on Sunday, his highest since his Washington debut in the 2004 opener. Santana Moss, Chris Cooley and David Patten were like a latter-day version of 1960s passcatchers Charley Taylor, Jerry Smith and Bobby Mitchell, hauling in 23 of Brunell’s passes for 261 yards. And the offensive line performed like the Hogs, keeping Brunell’s jersey clean — if not dry — even though his 53 passes were the most of his 13-year career.

“It was like trying to penetrate Fort Knox with nine people standing there,” Broncos defensive end Trevor Pryce said of the Redskins’ pass protection.

After controlling the ball for 352 yards and nearly 40 minutes in a 20-17 overtime victory over visiting Seattle on Oct. 2, the Redskins had possession for nearly 34 minutes against the Broncos’ sixth-rated defense. Washington outgained Denver’s more highly rated offense by 190 yards and had 28 first downs to the hosts’ 11.

All of this has the Redskins upbeat as they prepare for Kansas City’s 27th-ranked defense which allowed a total of 60 points in its past two games.

Brunell, who directed Jacksonville to AFC Championship games, is giving Washington leadership it hasn’t had at quarterback since Brad Johnson was benched midway through the 2000 season.

“We’ve got a lot of talent,” Brunell said. “We’re doing some good things on offense, particularly for an offense that has struggled in the past. We’re moving the ball. Hopefully we can build on it. We still have a lot of work to do.”

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