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Washington rallies to knock off Philadelphia and seal the last playoff spot in the NFC.
Published January 2, 2006
PHILADELPHIA - Going back to the basics put Joe Gibbs and the Redskins back in the playoffs.
Clinton Portis ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns, leading Washington to a hard-fought victory over the Eagles.
Washington clinched the league's final playoff spot and its first postseason berth since 1999 with its fifth straight win. The victory also eliminated Dallas from contention.
"Looking back to 5-6, we talked at that time that if we lost another game we'd be out," Gibbs said. "Trying to win five straight is a tough deal, but our guys seemed to understand what it would take. We went back to the basics."
The Redskins play the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium in an NFC wild-card game at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in their first playoff game since losing 14-13 to the Bucs in a second-round matchup six years ago.
Washington relied heavily on its running game behind Portis and a strong defense to turn things around after losing three straight to fall to 5-6.
"The basics start with playing smart football, not turning it over and also running the football and playing solid defense," quarterback Mark Brunell said. "That's how you win. We've been doing those things. The first part of the year we weren't."
Mike McMahon threw two touchdowns to Reggie Brown as Philadelphia completed its first losing season since '99 after reaching the Super Bowl in February.
"We'll go back through and look at all of it," coach Andy Reid said. "We've got to look at ourselves first, if we're putting guys in the right position to make plays and did they make the plays."
McMahon, who struggled in his six starts for the injured Donovan McNabb, made a crucial mistake in the fourth quarter. His poorly thrown pass was tipped and intercepted by linebacker Lemar Marshall, putting the ball at the Eagles 22.
On the next play, Portis completely spun around to elude a tackle in the backfield, cut to the left and sprinted down the sideline into the end zone to give the Redskins a 24-20 lead.
"That play was designed to lose 2 yards," Portis said. "I spun around a guy and it was clear from there."
The Eagles drove to the Redskins 38 on the ensuing drive, but McMahon fumbled and Joe Salave'a fell on it. Koy Detmer replaced McMahon on the next series, but didn't fare any better.
Sean Taylor sealed the victory by returning a fumble 39 yards for a score after Phillip Daniels knocked the ball away from Detmer.
Washington had just one winning season under brash owner Dan Snyder, whose spending sprees on big names such as Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith and Steve Spurrier proved futile.
But it took just two seasons for Gibbs to get the Redskins back to the winning ways they enjoyed when he was the coach in the 1980s and early 1990s.
"I was starting all over," Gibbs said. "It's a tough road up here and last year, for whatever reason, I probably deserved (criticism)."
NOTABLE: Portis broke Stephen Davis' franchise rushing record of 1,432 yards set in 2001, and Santana Moss topped Bobby Mitchell's 42-year-old receiving mark of 1,436 yards.