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'Skins roll over Giants for fourth straight

LANDOVER, Md. (Dec. 24, 2005) -- Kicker John Hall walked into the Washington Redskins locker room in a complete outfit of red and white, including the full beard and tall black boots.

Santa Claus? No. "Santana Claus," Hall said.

Want a better Santana Moss story? Clinton Portis said Moss became a good receiver by playing Frisbee with a dog at the University of Miami.

"He used to catch that Frisbee all the time," Portis said. "He'd outrun the dog, jump up and catch the Frisbee."

Whatever the joke, whatever the game, whoever the quarterback, Moss-going-deep has the Redskins on pace for their first playoff berth in six years. Moss added three touchdowns and 160 yards Saturday in a 35-20 victory over the New York Giants, including a 72-yard touchdown grab from Patrick Ramsey after Mark Brunell left with an injury.

"If there's anybody that's got better long-ball reaction than that guy -- he turned around and snatched that thing from I don't know where," coach Joe Gibbs said.

Peaking at the right time, the Redskins (9-6) won their fourth straight and will clinch at least a wild card berth if they win at Philadelphia in next week's regular-season finale. They will win the NFC East with a win and a Giants loss at Oakland next week.

"We said we had to win five in a row," said right tackle Jon Jansen, who held Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan without a sack. "We've got four done. We're not there by any means there yet, but it feels a lot better than it did at 5-6."

Gibbs is 4-0 this December, improving the Hall of Fame coach's record to 56-18 after Dec. 1. The victory also avenged one of the worst losses of his career, a 36-0 shutout at the Meadowlands on Oct. 30.

Despite the loss, the Giants (10-5) will secure a playoff berth if Minnesota fails to beat Baltimore on Sunday night. They will win the NFC East with a win against the Raiders.

"I'm very disappointed," said Tiki Barber, whose streak of five straight 100-yard games ended with an 80-yard day on 16 carries. "We were flat and didn't match their intensity, and it showed on the scoreboard."

Moss has 1,400 yards receiving on the season, 36 yards short of Bobby Mitchell's 42-year-old franchise record, and was named this week to his first Pro Bowl. He got the best of cornerback Will Allen on all three touchdowns: a 17-yard wideout screen from Brunell, a 59-yarder in which Moss made a terrific adjustment on an underthrown ball from Brunell, and the 72-yarder in which he knocked Allen to the ground after the catch.

"It's very special," Moss said. "I'm just thrilled to have all this come to me. At the same time, I just want to stay focused on what the big picture is and try to get us into these playoffs."

The Redskins were leading 21-17 when Brunell left the game with a sprained knee after being sacked by Nick Greisen on the first series of the second half. Ramsey, who was benched after getting hurt in the season opener, entered on the next series and had a sputtering start -- using two timeouts after four plays -- until he unloaded the long one for Moss.

"We just had kind of a formation problem there," Ramsey said. "It wasn't encouraging exactly, but I think Santana's play took care of all that."

The Redskins controlled the rest of the game. Portis, who earlier threw to Chris Cooley for a 17-yard score on a halfback option, took a run wide left against a depleted Giants linebackers corps for a 19-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter for the game's final score.

Portis finished with 108 yards on 27 carries, giving him a four-game 100-yard streak to match the team's four-game winning streak. His eight 100-yard games on the season is a new franchise record.

Brunell has a sprained right MCL. He will have an MRI on Monday.

"We're going to be aggressive and work with him and see how he does," director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said.

Brunell also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown in the first quarter by Chase Blackburn, who left the game in the third quarter after he was carted off the field with a sprained neck. Blackburn joined Antonio Pierce and Carlos Emmons as injured Giants linebackers, leaving the defense short-handed in the fourth quarter.

Eli Manning went 23 for 41 for 244 yards with a touchdown and an interception that set up a Redskins score. His only touchdown drive came on the 2-minute drill late in the first half.

"We've got another chance," Strahan said. "Maybe this upcoming week we'll play like the Redskins played with that same win-and-you're-in or lose-and-your-out type of mentality. We had it at times, we just didn't make the plays that we needed to make."

Notes: Barber, 30, become the second oldest running back in NFL history with 2,000 yards rushing and receiving. Walter Payton was 31 when he had 2,034 yards for Chicago in 1985. ... Redskins LB Chris Clemons sprained his knee in the first half.

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