Santana Moss has added plenty to his resume in his first year as a Redskin. He's made the Pro Bowl, become the Redskins' single-season leader in receiving yards (surpassing Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell) and forced a lot of people to forget about Laveranues Coles.
On Saturday afternoon, at Tampa Bay's Raymond James Stadium, Moss will be seeking to take it a step further--making his mark in the 2005 postseason.
Numerous Redskins have playoff experience, including Mark Brunell and Renaldo Wynn with Jacksonville, Phillip Daniels, Walt Harris and Warrick Holdman with Chicago, James Thrash with Philadelphia, Clinton Portis with Denver, Marcus Washington and Harris with Indianapolis, Shawn Springs with Seattle, Joe Salave'a with Tennessee and Cornelius Griffin with the New York Giants.
In his first four years in the league, all with the Jets, Moss made the postseason three times. Moss was outstanding for the Jets in 2004 as not only a wide receiver but also a return specialist.
At San Diego, he produced four catches for 100 yards and a 47-yard TD from Chad Pennington. The Jets won that Wild Card round matchup 20-17 in overtime upset. The next week at Pittsburgh, Moss went 75 yards with a punt return for a score in a game the Steelers won 20-17 in overtime.
After an outstanding start to his first season in Washington, Moss realized by about mid-season that opponents would adjust to his speed.
Defenses started rolling coverage in his direction. It first became evident in the Week 8 game against the New York Giants on Oct. 30.
Two weeks later, on Nov. 13, the Bucs' defense employed some of the same tactics, with Pro Bowl cornerback Ronde Barber and safeties Jermaine Phillips, Will Allen and Kalvin Pearson providing coverage to make sure he didn't get a step on them in his pass routes.
Moss did record a 42-yard reception in the Redskins's 36-35 loss that day. He was covered by Pearson, a first-year player who is no longer on the Bucs' roster, on the play.
Veteran safety Dexter Jackson, the Super Bowl XXXVII MVP, sat out the Week 10 game due to injury. He will play on Saturday, making the Bucs' secondary more formidable.
"When it gets late in the season, there's nothing new to look for," Moss said. "Teams are going to see what you've done. They'll try to capitalize on that knowledge by not allowing you to do what you've done. I just have to go about my business and try to find ways to do things that opponents are not looking for in a given situation."
Despite the increased attention from defenses, Moss finished with a strong December.
On Week 16 against the New York Giants, Moss was able to beat any type of coverage, recording five catches for 160 yards and three touchdowns.
For the season, Moss totaled 84 receptions for 1,483 yards and nine touchdowns. He averaged 17.7 yards per catch. The numbers proved deserving of a Pro Bowl nod.
The 5-10, 190-pound speedster has found a favorite play in the Redskins' offense. "That's the good old slip-screen, the one we've been running it all year," Moss says with a huge smile on his face.
The wide receiver screen has resulted in a number of big plays for Moss, including a 78-yard touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs and a 17-yard touchdown against the Giants. Moss has been making big plays ever since he came over from the New York Jets in place of the disenchanted Coles.
The former Miami Hurricane broke onto the scene for his new team back on Week 2 at Dallas. In a game that Redskins fans will never forget, Moss and Brunell hooked up on the late TDs of 39 and 70 yards that stunned the Cowboys 14-13 in a Monday Night encounter.
He's formed a bond with the veteran Brunell, another playoff-tested veteran, this season. When asked about Brunell, Moss said after the regular-season finale in Philadelphia: "He's a warrior. I watched him all those years when I was young and he was playing for Jacksonville. He makes plays with his feet and with his arm.
"Mark's one of those guys who can make a play when it seems like there's nothing there. That's what you want from your quarterback."