PHILADELPHIA -- As the clock wound down on Washington's last and most important victory of the season, a couple of players grabbed a Gatorade container and headed for their coaches. But instead of looking for Joe Gibbs, they turned in another direction.
|Will Gregg Williams leave the 'Skins? Defensive back Pierson Prioleau doesn't want to hear such speculation. (AP)|
"They were about to dump the Gatorade on coach Gibbs," defensive end Phillip Daniels said after Washington's 31-20 win. "But (director of sports medicine) Bubba Tyer turned it over. He didn't want them to do it to the coach."
That's fine. They found Williams instead and drenched his back before he jogged away.
"You know what?" said Williams, laughing, "I press them so hard, and there's a give-and-take with this. If I drive them so hard I have to be able to take some razzing."
Most of the taking this year has been by the Washington defense, and we saw it again Sunday. The Redskins forced six Philadelphia turnovers, one of one which they returned for a touchdown and two others they turned into TDs. That's 21 points, folks, and you do the math.
Without that defense, Washington doesn't win. I'm not talking only about Sunday. I'm talking about this season. But let's take it a step farther. Without Gregg Williams, I'm not sure what happens to the Redskins ... but they might have to find out.
With the end of the regular season you'll hear a lot about Williams, and not just because Washington is in the playoffs for the first time since 1999. because Williams is one of the hottest -- maybe the hottest -- head-coaching candidate out there, with at least three teams that are expected to have openings salivating over the guy.
It's not hard to see why. Just rewind the videotape to the second half of Sunday's game.
"I can't say enough about our defense," said Gibbs. "They kept swinging and kept fighting."
That's become an annual event. Look at Washington a year ago, when its defense ranked third overall and kept the club in most of its games. Sure, the Redskins were 6-10, but seven of their losses were by seven or fewer points and four were by no more than four.
Fast forward to this season, and look at what happened down the stretch. Washington pulled off one of the most remarkable comebacks in years, rallying from a 5-6 standing at midseason to win its last five and nose out Dallas for the last playoff spot.
It's no coincidence that in the four starts prior to Sunday it was the defense, not the offense, that carried the club -- allowing four TDs (a fifth occurred on an interception return) in that time. And while it seemed shaky in the first half against Philadelphia, allowing Mike McMahon & Co. to jump to a 17-10 lead, that same defense gathered itself when it counted -- producing takeaways on four of the Eagles' last five possessions, including Sean Taylor's game-clinching 39-yard fumble return for a touchdown.