- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2007

The parallels to Washington’s unexpected 2005 playoff season are mounting. Universally pegged to be an also-ran in a division that boasted three returning playoff teams, Washington is unbeaten two weeks in.

After a disastrous season in 2006, the Redskins didn’t drain owner Dan Snyder’s bank account as dramatically as usual, adding only two opening day starters, linebacker London Fletcher and guard Pete Kendall. Universally pegged to be an also-ran in a division that boasted three returning playoff teams, Washington is unbeaten two weeks in.

The Redskins have won a couple of close games, the first at home over a lightweight from the previous season and the second over a division rival on the road on “Monday Night Football.” Washington’s defense, the NFC’s best in the red zone, is leading the way.

Most of that also could describe the Redskins’ 10-6 season of two years ago.

“There are a lot of similarities,” running back Ladell Betts said. “We’re not putting up a ton of points on offense, but we’re being effective. The running game seems to be going pretty good. We’re making big plays in the passing game, and the defense is stepping up in crucial situations. Special teams is getting us good field position and tackling guys inside the 20.”

The Redskins are 2-0 after beating Miami 16-13 at home and upsetting host Philadelphia 20-12 on Monday night.

“We’re flying under the radar [even after Monday],” fullback Mike Sellers said. “No one’s giving us a chance anyway. They were talking so bad about us on ESPN like we shouldn’t have won the game. Please. We won, and they still want to say that [Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb] had a bad game. We made him have a bad game.”

Still, constantly hearing doubters has had a positive effect.

“When someone else tells you you can’t do it, what you gonna do?” receiver Santana Moss said. “Show ‘em.”

Assistant head coach Gregg Williams loves that demeanor.

“We have to be able to manage success, continue to play with a chip on our shoulders,” Williams said. “That’s what good teams do. It’s only two games. I don’t think anybody needs to read anything more into it than that. It’s a long season. We have 14-plus games to go.”

Fourteen-plus would mean another playoff season.

“We’ve got to keep it up,” said Moss, who has played in four postseasons. “You build from one week to the next. We’re trying to build this mansion. It ain’t easy. You can’t build it with wood. We want bricks. When the foundation is put down, we’ll have a nice house.”

That was the theme during the 2005 season as well.

Coming off a disappointing 6-10 season in coach Joe Gibbs’ return to the Redskins, Washington added only Casey Rabach, receiver David Patten and rookie cornerback Carlos Rogers to the starting lineup. Few analysts predicted a playoff season.

But Washington squeaked by Chicago 9-7 in the opener. The next Monday in Dallas, the Redskins trailed 13-0 with five minutes remaining before Moss scored on two long touchdowns from Mark Brunell to stun the Cowboys.

The Redskins won just three of the next eight, though, and needed a five-game winning streak and strong defensive play to earn a playoff berth.

“It’s early, but it does remind me of that year,” Rogers said. “Hopefully we won’t have to win the last five to get in.”

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