Back in 1999, the last time the Redskins qualified for the postseason, the most memorable play may well have been that of Larry Centers, all by himself, tip toeing into the end zone as the Redskins won the NFC East on the night after Christmas in San Francisco.
On New Year's Day of 2006, it was Sean Taylor's turn to produce an image that will have a long shelf life for all Redskins fans. It was Taylor diving into the end zone after having rushed 39 yards with a fumble. The second-year safety finished off a play started by Phillip Daniels to send the Redskins into the playoff fight Saturday afternoon at Tampa Bay at 4:30 p.m.
Philadelphia played harder than many expected Sunday evening in the regular-season final. The Redskins held an unstable-looking 24-20 lead with 2:30 left when Daniels smacked the ball away from Eagles backup QB Koy Detmer at the Philly 29-yard line.
Taylor was quick to pounce on the loose ball. He headed down the left flank and took a nose dive into the end zone at Lincoln Financial Field. No. 21 led all players with nine tacklers but more importantly helped make sure that this Redskins' team extends its season.
"It's not the Sean Taylor show, it's the Redskins' show," the former Miami Hurricane said afterward. "It was the Redskins' defense, the Redskins' offense and the Redskins' special teams. There are a lot of guys out there playing their best football right now, that's all I can tell you."
Added Taylor: "I know we're all happy to be in the position that we are right now. Another week to play is all that we can ask for."
Asked how if feels to be in the playoffs, Taylor remarked: "It's self- explanatory. A lot of teams are packing their bags and going home right now, but we have another week of practice. We're looking forward to Tampa Bay."
Gregg Williams, the Redskins' assistant head coach-defense, always preaches that Taylor is dangerous when the ball is in his hands. Williams tells his defensive players to be on guard to be ready to block for Taylor whenever the ball falls Taylor's way.
Regarding his first NFL TD, Taylor said: "I always think score when I have the ball in my hands. I made one move and I saw daylight.
"I was just happy to put us up 11 and seal the deal. It was great to put away a scrappy Eagles team. We knew they were going to fight and we were determined not to let them spoil our party."
Historians should note that Taylor actually began his jump into the end zone from about the 5-yard line. Further, if he weren't a safety, Sean Taylor could be a first-rate running back in this league. That's what his big play yesterday in South Philly indicated.
Each week, when Tom Jackson of ESPN does his "Jacked Up" list, he has to consider the Redskins' safety.
Taylor has developed a reputation for punishing hits on the football field--and it's a reputation that is justified.
Last year's jarring hits came on the likes of Pittsburgh's Willie Parker. This year, it's been Terry Glenn of the Cowboys and J.J. Arrington of the Cardinals.
Taylor finished third on the Redskins in tackles with 78. Linebackers Lemar Marshall (130) and Marcus Washington (119) were one-two.
For Taylor, the 2005 season was one in which offensive coordinators have been forced to take note of his position on the field. He's been a force on defense and on special teams.
Said Williams: "Sean has a tendency to make people look at where he. Even when you do complete a ball in his area, he tries to lay a hard hit on you."
At Arizona, where the Redskins won 17-13 on Week 14, Taylor had six tackles, an interception and a forced fumble.
But he was even more of a factor yesterday at Philly.
At the end of his second NFL season, Taylor has become the dominant type of player many had predicted he would be when the Redskins selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.
He's improved by leaps and bounds when it comes to reading and reacting to the offensive set.
Taylor likes to say the safety is the lid for the defense, the player who is responsible for keeping things shut tight.
On Sunday, Taylor showed the NFL his running skills in the process of helping shut down a quarrelsome opponent in Philadelphia.