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News & Notes: O-Line Setting the Tone

It was midway through the third quarter of Sunday's game against Jacksonville, and center Casey Rabach looked across at the defense to see tired faces. Rabach knew that the suddenly high-powered Redskins offense had the Jaguars on their heels.

"That's when we really started rolling," Rabach said. "Everything started clicking, especially the running game. I think that was kind of the turning point for us. We just kept on hammering at 'em. Good things happened for us."

From that point on, the Redskins compiled 256 total offensive yards the rest of the way and scored on four of their final five possessions. In overtime, Santana Moss's 68-yard catch-and-run turned into the game-winning points of a 36-30 win.

The Redskins' offensive line, going against a strong front four and a pair of Pro Bowl defensive tackles, took great pride in setting the tempo on the line of scrimmage.

"It always feels great for an offensive lineman when you go up against a defense like Jacksonville," Rabach said. "As highly ranked as they were and as highly touted as they are, just to go out there and have a great game really feels good for us."

Added right guard Randy Thomas: "We were up against some Pro Bowlers and run-stoppers--it was a challenge for us. We stepped up to the plate and played well."

The offensive line helped open holes for a ground game that recorded 152 rushing yards.

"That was a big deal," head coach Joe Gibbs.

In particular, Gibbs credited the right side of the offensive line--Jon Jansen and Randy Thomas--as playing "extremely well."

"Jon was really pounding people, and so was Randy," Gibbs said.

On Sept. 24, the Redskins began their offensive surge when they compiled 234 rushing yards in Week 3 against the Houston Texans. It was the offensive line that helped set the tone with dominant blocking, both at the line of scrimmage and downfield.

"The last two weeks have been very good for us," quarterback Mark Brunell said. "We were physical. We need to keep this going. I feel that things are really starting to come together."

Brunell has also been the beneficiary of strong offensive line play and pass protection. In three of the Redskins' four games, Brunell has not been sacked, including Sunday's win over Jacksonville.

Given plenty of time in the pocket the last two weeks, Brunell has completed 42-of-57 passes for 590 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception. He set an NFL record against the Texans when he completed his first 22 passes to open the game.


#### -- WHAT A CATCH

Sunday's three-touchdown performance for Santana Moss was the third time that Moss has caught three touchdowns in his NFL career.

His other two came against the New York Giants, the Redskins' opponent this Sunday, Oct. 8. Moss caught three touchdowns on Dec. 24 at FedExField last season in the Redskins' 35-20 win over the Giants. His other three-touchdown game came on Nov. 2, 2003 when he was a member of the New York Jets.

Moss has now caught 17 passes for 326 yards on the season. His 19.1 yards-per-catch average ranks third in the NFL among receivers with at least 15 receptions, behind Chicago's Bernard Berrian (21.1) and Indianapolis's Reggie Wayne (19.9).



The Redskins defense held the Jaguars to just 2-of-13 on third-down conversions on Sunday, continuing a trend that started in Week 2 at Dallas.

After allowing the Vikings to convert 9-of-17 third downs in the season opener, and allowing the Cowboys to convert four of their first five third-down attempts in Week 2, the Redskins' defense has allowed opponents to convert just 7-of-31 third-down plays since.


Kickoff return specialist Rock Cartwright currently leads the NFC and is third in the NFL with a 28.8-yard kickoff return average.

On Sunday against Jacksonville, Cartwright returned five kickoffs for 150 yards, including a 46-yard effort in the fourth quarter that set up a key field goal with just under two minutes remaining.

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