- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2005

There’s no way around it, folks: After so many years in the NFL desert, the Redskins finally have their mojo back.

How else to explain such good fortune? The Redskins opened at home against a rookie quarterback making his NFL debut. Bill Parcells, a Joe Gibbs killer, the next week suffers the biggest fourth-quarter collapse of his career. Yesterday, a wacky finish gives the Redskins their first overtime victory in four years.

Veteran kicker Josh Brown booted a 53-yard field goal early for the Seahawks, but he hit the left upright as regulation ended with the score 17-17. That set the stage for neophyte Nick Novak to win the game in overtime for the Redskins.

The schedule — other than the next home game against lowly San Francisco — gets pretty hairy during the next six weeks. But from the Monday Morning Quarterback’s desk chair, it sure looks like Joe Gibbs has regained the magic touch that he seemed to have lost in 2004.

Q: Two huge bombs to stun the hated Cowboys in Dallas and a super performance yesterday. Why did Gibbs ever bench Brunell?

A: Amazing how people forget how dreadful Brunell was last year. He lost the starting job last November in a more just fashion than the manner in which Patrick Ramsey lost it last month.

But there’s no denying that Brunell has played as well in the past six quarters as Gibbs could have hoped. Even the interception he threw late in the fourth quarter wasn’t all his fault: The ball bounced off Clinton Portis’ hands.

Q: How come the Redskins didn’t bring Nick Novak to camp to challenge John Hall? The kid has ice water in his veins, and they obviously knew all about him since he kicked at Maryland.

A: Nice cliche, sport. Very few kickers get drafted, and the Redskins had a credible alternative to Hall in journeyman Jeff Chandler, who finished 2004 as their kicker.

Novak looked like he might be heading to waivers yesterday after his first field goal attempt was blocked. But the game-winner he kicked could make the ailing Hall an afterthought.

Q: What the heck happened to Gregg Williams’ defense in the second half? I mean, 85- and 91-yard touchdown drives?

A: The Seahawks have a very good offense, so holding them to a field goal wasn’t realistic. Still, the Redskins looked bamboozled and tired at times — very uncharacteristic for this group. However, the unit held Shaun Alexander to less than 100 yards. The long touchdown marches will give Williams something to yell at his players about this week.

Q: Speaking of the defense, is LaVar Arrington still a Redskin?

A: It’s baffling that Williams isn’t using the three-time Pro Bowl pick in more of his packages. Starter Warrick Holdman had just one tackle. Backup Chris Clemons is a lightning-quick pass rusher. But no defense is so special that a player as talented as Arrington should be on the field for just two snaps. Of course, 3-0 is 3-0.

Q: How did rookie cornerback Carlos Rogers do in his first start?

A: Rogers made some mistakes, but none were particularly costly. The Redskins are better off with Walt Harris starting, which the veteran should do again when his calf muscle heals. Still, Rogers is coming.

Q: Why did the Jets give up Santana Moss for Laveranues Coles?

A: Coles has been more productive throughout his career, but Moss is more than the speed merchant advertised. Moss has great hands, and he’s a much more positive presence in the locker room than the nasty Coles.

Q: The Redskins are 6-2 in their last eight games under Gibbs. Are they for real?

A: Whoa. They’ve outscored their victims by just six points during their 3-0 start. Chicago isn’t good. Dallas is up and down, and Seattle doesn’t travel well. Let’s see how the Redskins do in games at Denver and Kansas City before we evaluate them.

Q: Is this the luckiest stretch of Gibbs’ career?

A: You don’t get to be a Hall of Famer without some luck. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten all the good breaks: the bad calls that saved the 1983 NFC title game against the 49ers, Jay Schroeder going from obscurity to stardom overnight in 1985, Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith feeling too sick to face the Super Bowl-bound Redskins in 1991 and Danny Copeland’s miracle fumble recovery in the end zone to beat the Cowboys in 1992?

Q: The Redskins are in Denver on Sunday for their first regular-season game against the Broncos since the big Bailey-for-Portis trade. Who got the better of that deal?

A: Bailey missed a game yesterday for the first time in his seven-year career. But it’s hard to believe a bad hamstring will keep him out of the lineup against the Redskins, a team he feels dissed him badly in 2003.

The Broncos are 12-8, including a playoff loss, with Bailey. The Redskins are 8-10 with Portis. I guess you’d have to give Denver the advantage especially since they got a second-round draft choice out of the deal, too.

Q: So what happens in Denver?

A: The Broncos are awesome at home, but the Redskins beat them there four years ago with Kent Graham coming off the bench at quarterback. Surely, this is a better Washington team. And how’s this for an omen? The last game before that 2001 visit was a home victory against Seattle.

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