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Brunell Hopes History Repeats

In playing back-to-back road playoff games, the Wild Card Redskins certainly face a tough challenge in Seattle this weekend.

Since 1990, when the NFL switched to the current playoff format, only two teams have won on the road in the Wild Card round and then won again the following week in the Divisional Playoffs.

The 1995 Indianapolis Colts were the first to do it. A year later, the Jacksonville Jaguars accomplished the feat to advance to the AFC Championship game.

The quarterback for the Jaguars that year?

Mark Brunell.

Perhaps more than any other Redskin, Brunell understands the challenge of playing--and winning--on the road in the playoffs.

"I don't know about needing a certain type of mentality to play on the road, but as players we all know what we're going up against," Brunell said. "It's harder--the communication, the travel, when you have to go all the way across the country.

"You have to be real sharp and real smart when you play on the road. You can't turn it over. If you do, it's much worse than when you turn it over in your own stadium."

Playing in Seattle this Saturday in the Divisional Playoffs, Brunell makes his return to the Pacific Northwest. The 13-year NFL veteran played his college ball at the University of Washington.

"I have some great memories in Seattle and at the University of Washington," he said. "It was a long time ago and I'm not sure too many people remember me out there. I met my wife there. I still have a lot of close friends there."

With weather reports suggesting there could be rain on Saturday, Brunell was asked about playing in those types of conditions.

"That's one good thing about playing in Seattle all those years--you get used to throwing a wet ball," Brunell said. "But when it rains, the officials do a good job of keeping the ball dry. It's not as big a factor as you might think. It's going to rain, and we'll have to be smart with the football gripping the ball and throwing it."

In the Week 4 matchup between the Redskins and Seahawks, Brunell had one of his best games of the season. He completed 20-of-36 passes for 226 yards, two TDs and one interception in leading the Redskins to a 20-17 overtime win. He had a key 18-yard scramble for a first down in overtime.

In last week's Wild Card win over Tampa Bay, Brunell struggled against a stout Buccaneers defense, ranked No. 1 in the NFL. He was 7-of-15 for 41 yards with one interception.

The Redskins relied on defensive turnovers to build and maintain a lead.

Brunell said on Tuesday that his knee injury, suffered in Week 16 against the New York Giants, hampered him somewhat a week later against Philadelphia. The injury did not affect him in Tampa Bay, he said.

"Mechanically, I was a little off [against Philadelphia] and I didn't get as much work during the week leading up to that game," he said. "It bothered me on a couple of throws. But last week, against Tampa Bay, it felt really good."

The Redskins' offense has been roundly criticized by media this week for posting just 120 total yards of offense against the Bucs and struggling the week before against Philadelphia.

Brunell hinted that the offense is aware of the criticism, but remains confident.

"We should have confidence--we're a good football team on offense," he said. "We're not going to dwell on the last two games. We're going to look at the big picture. This is a good offensive football team.

"We're smarter with the ball now and we're running the ball well. We have a challenge, but we have the talent and ability to meet that challenge."

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