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Brown Goes from 'Couch to the End Zone'

Clinton Portis does cartwheels. Antonio Brown blows kisses to his fans. The Redskins of 2005 are a theatrical group, it has to be said.

Of course, opposing players might get miffed and Joe Gibbs and Danny Smith certainly would have preferred that Brown wait until the completion of his 91-yard TD burst before celebrating.




Then again, Brown's gesture at Sun Devil Stadium Sunday afternoon was life-affirming and not self-centered. In that sense, it was refreshing. It's similar to what Jason Kidd of the NBA's New Jersey Nets does on his free throws.

Brown's spectacular return at the 3:29 mark of the third quarter began when he fielded the kickoff of former Redskin Nick Novak. The Redskins formed a solid lane of blocking for him, veering left. Brown passed the Redskins bench and then, as you saw, offered a kiss to his fans in both Miami and Washington, D.C.

"That was for all our fans who came out here and for everybody in Miami," said Brown, a South Florida native. "It felt really good. I trust those guys blocking for me."

Joking about his hiatus from the NFL, Brown added: "I guess for me it's a case of going from the couch to the end zone."

Said Gibbs: "We all felt so good for Antonio, for him to come back like that. At the end, our guys really finished it out."

Opponents should have seen it coming. Not the kiss. But Brown's talent as a return specialist.

We're at the point in the season where most NFL players are running out of gas. Brown has spent a large portion of 2005 watching games rather than playing in them.

Released after fumbling a kickoff in the opener versus Chicago, Brown has fresh legs and that factored in as he helped rescue the Redskins from their struggles against Arizona.

Washington managed a 17-13 win that sets up another NFC East showdown next Sunday at FedExField, this time versus Dallas.

In 2004, Brown wasn't signed to the Redskins' active roster until Nov. 13 and he didn't see the field until Week 15 at San Francisco's Monster Park. But by the end of the season Brown had shown his fair share of quickness as a return specialist.

Playing for the first time at FedExField, the Redskins' newest kick returner took the field on Jan. 2 against the Vikings determined to put his team in a position to score right off the bat. Brown fielded the opening kickoff at his own 2-yard line and returned it 66 yards to the Minnesota 32-yard line.

Eight plays later, Patrick Ramsey threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Chris Cooley. Brown's big return gave the Redskins early momentum that they used to earn a 21-18 victory over the playoff-bound Vikes.

On his attitude toward returning kicks, Brown said: "The NFL is a battle for field position and special teams are what creates field position. If we can create field position to prevent our offense from having to go 80 or 90 yards, we've done our job."

Brown and Santana Moss ran track versus one another as sprinters in the Big East, Brown at West Virginia and Moss at Miami. Moss won in the 60-meter dash in the Big East championships.

We're talking about two players who are among the fastest in the NFL. So, Brown's kick return in the Arizona desert should have come as no surprise, even if his gesture in the midst of it did.

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