Santana Moss knows he has had a target on his back since early in the 2005 season. The Redskins' wide receiver, named to the Pro Bowl last week, established himself as a deep threat early in the season.
But he had not produced a 100-yard receiving effort since Week 7, when it became evident that teams were rolling coverage in his direction.
On Saturday against the New York Giants, Moss was able to beat coverage from the New York Giants, recording five catches for 160 yards and three touchdowns.
"We always want to get him in the game plan," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "We always want to get him the ball. Last week against Dallas, he only had three catches, but they were all big. He was one of the keys to us offensively and we try to work hard to get him the ball."
For the season, Moss has caught 80 passes for 1,400 yards and nine touchdowns. The numbers proved deserving of a Pro Bowl nod last week. With 37 more receiving yards, Moss will have posted the most single-season receiving yards in franchise history, breaking Bobby Mitchell's record of 1,436 in 1963.
Moss has been solid the last few weeks, but not spectacular like he was early in the season. He just kept on competing, knowing that the big plays come.
"When it gets late in the season like this, there is nothing new to teams," Moss said. "Teams are going to see what you've done to get you this far and what you could do. They'll try to capitalize on that knowledge by not allowing you to do what you do. With that in mind, I just have to go about my business and try to find ways to do things that opponents are not particularly looking for."
On Saturday against the Giants, Moss caught his first touchdown pass on a wide receiver slant. The 5-10, 190-pound speedster broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage, then turned up-field and followed blocking by 6-6, 330-pound lineman Derrick Dockery, diving into the end zone for the 17-yard score.
"That was a good old slip-screen--we've been running it all year," Moss said. "The defender dove and missed me. I stumbled a couple of times, but I had a blocker up there and I made sure I got into the end zone."
Late in the first quarter, quarterback Mark Brunell found Moss again, this time on a 59-yard touchdown pass to give Washington a 14-10 lead.
Moss sped past Giants' cornerback Will Allen on a post pattern, stopped to make an adjustment near the goal line and catching the ball in front of Allen. He ran into the end zone for the score and leaped into the FedExField stands to celebrate the Redskins' 14-10 lead.
When Brunell went down with a knee injury in the third quarter, Patrick Ramsey came in at quarterback. Moss didn't miss a beat.
On his first offensive series, Ramsey threw a deep pass to Moss, who caught the pass ahead of Allen and broke free for a spectacular 72-yard touchdown catch. The score gave the Redskins a 28-17 lead.
"I knew Pat had a strong arm, so when he came into the game, I knew I had to focus on the ball more," Moss said. "He threw it up there a little high and I went up to get it. I thought I was going to get hit immediately, but when I came down, I gave the defender a little shrug move and I was off to the races."
Said Gibbs: "It's a play, like most of our passes, where there were three different things you can hit. I saw that they had singled Santana and so that was part of the play that was designed for him. Patrick made a good read. There isn't anybody better at long-ball reactions than Santana. He turned around and snatched that thing."