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Springs Provided Season's Signature Play


Back in 2005, when the Redskins went on that five-game winning streak to qualify for the postseason, they had just one close game.

That was in Week 14 in the Arizona desert, when Washington received a spark from an unlikely source: Antonio Brown's 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown decided the game in the Redskins' favor 17-13.


En route, he blew kisses to Redskins fans and teammates, infuriating his coaches but at the same time coming up with a signature play in that late-season playoff push.

Two years later the Redskins are back in the postseason and preparing to face the Seahawks in Seattle. Just like in 2005, a season that ultimately ended in disappointment.

What has been the single play that has really given the Redskins the momentum for this year's four-game win streak and playoff berth?

It says here that Shawn Springs' interception and 53-yard return late in the second quarter of the game against the Bears did as much as any single play to give the Redskins a late-season boost.

As you recall, the Redskins were in serious trouble back on Week 14.

They were coming off a devastating 17-16 loss to Buffalo at home. The entire organization attended Sean Taylor's funeral in South Florida on Monday. And then the Redskins had to turn around and play the Bears three days later, with both teams clinging to rather slim postseason hopes.

The temperature was a chilly 26 degrees for the start of that Thursday night game, which remained scoreless until just before halftime.

Chicago lost starting quarterback Rex Grossman in the early going, while the Redskins lost their starter, Jason Campbell, and had key offensive players Chris Cooley and Clinton Portis on the sidelines at times due to injury.

Todd Collins, the 13-year veteran who hadn't started in a decade, stepped in for Campbell and had a first full series that was a disaster. He was 0-for-2 in attempts to hit Keenan McCardell. On third down, Collins was sacked by Alex Brown and fumbled the ball away.

At that point, the Redskins looked be going nowhere--except, perhaps, toward 5-8 and an early exit from postseason contention.

Three plays later, Brian Griese tried to find Devin Hester at the Washington 26-yard line. Springs, the 11-year veteran, made the play that changed the Redskins' season for the better, as diminutive return specialist Antonio Brown had in 2005.

Springs intercepted Griese, picked up some key blocks and headed across field and down the right sideline. It took Hester, the league's fastest player, to knock Springs out of bounds at the Chicago 21.

On the next play, Collins and Todd Yoder hooked up for a 21-yard touchdown that gave the Redskins a 7-0 halftime lead. As we now know, that 24-16 win over the Bears has mushroomed into something much larger.

Asked about that interception versus Chicago, one of two he made that night, Springs said: "I had hurt my back [at midseason], so I think Chicago decided to throw a lot at me. I got hot against them, and balls have been coming my way."

Springs added: "Our offense has been scoring some points, so now teams are throwing the ball against us more. They were playing us a little different when we weren't scoring so many points."

Head coach Joe Gibbs said that the winning streak at the end of this season reminded him of that surge into the playoffs during 2005.

"What's similar is playing well at the end of the year," he said. "We got in real trouble in the middle of the year in 2005. The guys got together, and we won six in a row. That portion of it is definitely the same.

"This team, like that team, has overcome a lot of injuries. The thing that's really different this time is losing Sean [Taylor]. This team has had to deal with that.

"Now, we're going back to Seattle. We had a tough time out there in 2005 and they knocked us out of the playoffs."

Springs--who on a personal level has been dealing with a tragic situation of his own with the health status of his father--once again will be going up against the team for which he played his first seven seasons in the NFL.

His momentum-shifting play against the Bears has been a real catalyst in the Redskins' charge into the postseason and back out to the Pacific Northwest.

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