- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Santana Moss left Redskin Park yesterday with two dozen red and yellow roses. Make them burgundy and gold roses. They were compliments of a Redskins fan ecstatic about the receiver’s two late touchdown catches that gave Washington a stunning 14-13 victory over archrival Dallas late Monday night.

Moss carried his anonymous admirer’s gift to his SUV in a trash can, an appropriate vessel for the way the first-year Redskin suddenly trashed the team’s nine-game losing streak in Texas Stadium and its equally depressing 14 losses in 15 games against Dallas.

“I was thrilled to be a part of it and make those plays,” said Moss, who said the touchdowns topped anything he had done in his four previous seasons with the New York Jets. “To do this for the team and for the organization and to turn things around [against Dallas] …”

Coach Joe Gibbs, who has won three Super Bowls and whose team’s 1987 upset of the Cowboys with replacement players was made into a movie, said the dramatic victory “ranks right there with” any he has had.

Even if Moss never catches another pass in a Washington uniform, he will go down in Redskins lore with such big-game performers as Alvin Garrett, Timmy Smith and Larry Centers.

“I’ll remember Santana running into the end zone like I remember Larry Centers running wide open into the zone against San Francisco [to win the NFC East title in 1999],” said offensive tackle Jon Jansen, the only Redskin to play here each of the last seven seasons.

The Redskins traded their top receiver of the past two seasons, Laveranues Coles, to the Jets in March for Moss and gave him a six-year, $31 million contract for the big play ability that made him second in the NFL among starting receivers in 2004 with 18.6 yards per catch. After two weeks this year, the speedy Moss is first with a 28.3-yard average. Four of his nine catches have gone for at least 39 yards. Monday’s 70-yard touchdown and the 52-yard grab in the opening victory over Chicago were longer than any Washington pass plays last season.

“Santana has fantastic ball reaction,” Gibbs said. “Very few people can snatch a ball right out of the air like that. And he has great burst. He can be running and he doesn’t even put his hands up because he has such confidence. He’s very much a downfield threat.”

Not that the Cowboys were too worried about the Redskins beating them deep. Anthony Henry had broken up Brunell’s underthrown pass for Moss in the end zone in the first quarter and Moss had made a 41-yard catch along the sideline in the third quarter, but Washington had passed for just 131 other yards when the quarterback and receiver hooked up on fourth and 15 with 3:46 left for the score that closed the gap to 13-7. And just 1:11 later, Moss got behind the Cowboys secondary again, grabbed Brunell’s pass in stride at the Dallas 25 and sprinted into the end zone for the winning touchdown.

“I was frustrated because they were the better team for the first three quarters and I couldn’t be a part of something to turn it around,” Moss said. “We didn’t attack them that much early so we probably lured them into [soft coverage]. When it became critical we attacked them when they gave us a look they shouldn’t have.”

Moss, who needed an IV at halftime of the opener, prevented a recurrence in the Texas steambath by gulping down fluids all day.

“It was so hard. I was so exhausted. I was just asking for strength to make it through that game,” said the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Moss. “I said, ‘Let me end on a positive note’ and saying I gave it my all. My all wasn’t yet to come I guess.”

Notes — Before Monday, the Redskins hadn’t come from behind to win in the fourth quarter in any of their 19 victories since Jan. 6, 2002, when they rallied from a 17-12 deficit to beat Arizona 20-17 in Marty Schottenheimer’s final game as their coach. … Cowboys coach Bill Parcells had been 77-0 when leading by 13 points or more in the fourth quarter. …

Safety Pierson Prioleau, who became a starter when Ryan Clark and Matt Bowen were hurt in preseason, is hopeful that the pulled hamstring that knocked him out of Monday’s game on the opening drive will be sufficiently healed for him to return after this week’s bye.

“I knew it was my hamstring right away,” Prioleau said. “I pulled it pretty good. It’s a good week for the bye week.”

Monday’s thrilling triumph also served as an elixir for Jansen’s two broken thumbs.

“My thumbs held up the best they could be, but they felt good after a win last week and they feel really good now,” Jansen said. “I’m very happy that we have a week to heal some bumps and bruises. I’m hoping in another two weeks they’ll be a lot better off.”

Middle linebacker Lemar Marshall refused to come out of the game despite straining a groin in the second half. …

Receiver Taylor Jacobs caught a 9-yard pass in the fourth quarter in his first action, preseason or regular season, since the 2004 finale.

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