Whenever the Redskins needed a clutch play on Sunday, wide receiver James Thrash proved he could be counted on.
Thrash had just three catches for 52 yards, but all three of them were significant in the Redskins' bizarre--but at the same time memorable--22-19 win over Dallas.
Essentially, with Santana Moss and David Patten on the sidelines, Thrash was able to help fill a huge void at wide receiver.
Of course, Joe Gibbs knows full well just how dependable his 10-year NFL veteran can be. And Mark Brunell certainly did not shy away from Thrash in some of Sunday's key sequences.
Said Gibbs: "We had some receivers down, and the other guys played great. I saw James make some big plays for us. I love that guy and his work ethic."
Against the Cowboys, Thrash had a 27-yard reception in the first quarter and an eight-yard catch in the second period.
On a fourth-quarter play, he proved especially clutch. Facing a third and seven at his own 48 with 2:32 to go, Brunell picked out Thrash on a short middle route for a 17-yard advance. That helped set up Nick Novak's 49-yarder, which sailed wide right with :31 seconds to go.
As we now know, Troy Vincent, Sean Taylor and Kyle Kosier combined to give Novak another shot, and this time he was good from 47 yards in a finish that, given its improbable nature, may rival such classic NFL finishes as Pittsburgh's "Immaculate Reception," Philadelphia's "Miracle in the Meadowlands" or Tennessee's "Motor City Miracle."
Moss, Brandon Lloyd, Antwaan Randle and Chris Cooley earn most of the attention in terms of the Redskins' passing game. It was Thrash, though, the reliable veteran, who contributed in so many ways to Washington's victory over the Cowboys.
On the same FedExField turf on Sunday, you had a stark contrast among wide receivers.
On the one hand you had Terrell Owens, given to infantile end zone gestures that are intended to given additional exposure to none other than Terrell Owens.
And on the other hand you had James Thrash, whose behavior and demeanor call to mind the title character of the legendary Irish film "The Quiet Man."
Entering the game, Thrash had just three catches on the season. One went for a five-yard TD in the 36-22 loss at Indianapolis. And yet with the Redskins in desperate straits on Week 9, he came through.
In a career spent mostly in Washington except for a three-year departure to Philadelphia, Thrash has distinguished himself as both a wide receiver and special teams contributor.
Thrash had a 50-catch season for the Redskins in 2000, followed by years with 63, 52 and 49 catches for the Eagles. He joins Vincent this week in gearing up to play the Eagles, their former teams, next Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Always, though, Thrash has stood out as being a hard-working, soft-spoken NFL player.
"I set goals for myself each and every day," Thrash says. "You can't look too far ahead in the NFL. You can lose your focus."
The way James Thrash performed against the Cowboys yesterday? Losing his sense of focus seemed an impossibility.