ASHBURN, Va. -- Santana Moss spoke with his mouth full, munching on two cookies as he spoke with reporters in the parking lot with the television cameras rolling. His cell phone went off four times, providing a rap music soundtrack to his candid comments.
Moss didn't care. He is not about image. He rarely does anything off the field to draw attention to himself. While other receivers get more publicity -- Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson quickly come to mind -- Moss is flashy only when the game is in progress.
But maybe it's about time to put the Washington Redskins receiver near the top of the list when it comes to the league's most exciting wideouts. His three-touchdown performance in Sunday's overtime victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars was enough to give goose bumps to anyone who has played the position.
"Moss is the silent assassin," fullback Mike Sellers said Monday. "He just puts in the work, doesn't say nothing. Even if he burns you, he won't talk trash to you. He'll just walk back to the huddle and run the next play. That's a true professional. I think that's what the NFL is trying to achieve, that type of player where you get rid of all the antics and just play the game."
Moss isn't really silent. In fact, he's one of the most generous when it comes to granting interviews. He's a joy to listen to because he doesn't sugarcoat anything. There are plenty of players who would have boasted ad nauseam about a 68-yard reception to win a game in overtime, but Moss freely acknowledged he wasn't seeking the ball on that play because of the defensive coverage and that he thought he was going to get leveled by oncoming safety Deon Grant.
"I don't think anything I do goes in slow motion," Moss said. "It happened so fast, I didn't even have the chance to think about it. I just reacted. My first reaction was to go up for the ball because I knew I could get hit real hard. ... I remember an old coach of mine told me to think about what you want to do, think about who you want to be, and you can be that person. It was all a visual during the week, and it came true during the game."
Last year, Moss brought life to a dormant Redskins attack with two long touchdown catches in a fourth-quarter rally to beat the Dallas Cowboys. He set a franchise record with 1,483 yards for the year and went to his first Pro Bowl. He is 5-foot-10, incredibly quick and elusive, able to put on a spin move that left Grant grasping at air during a first-quarter, 55-yard touchdown reception Sunday.
Moss' description of that play was matter-of-fact, with maybe just a hint of bravado: "He was slowing down. You can tell a guy is cautious about the speed, and I kind of noticed that. You can be cautious of my speed and you can be cautious of the move, but you can't be cautious of both of them, and I just gave him a little of both."
Uncharacteristically, Moss was part of a 15-yard penalty for an end zone celebration following the play, even though he was just standing there when fellow receiver Brandon Lloyd picked him up from behind.
"It's bull," Moss said. "We get a lot of those calls, so what the heck."
Washington's performance against the Jaguars could be another kick-start for the Redskins (2-2), who have some legitimacy after a victory over a team other than Houston. The offensive line didn't commit a penalty or allow a sack and opened enough holes for 152 yards rushing. Mark Brunell is back to form two weeks after flirting again with the "washed-up" questions.
Expensive free agent defensive end Andre Carter finally made an impact with a sack and two hurries on the quarterback. The biggest lingering concern is a secondary that continues to allow big plays, but the crisis mode that followed an 0-2 start has dissipated for now.
Moss has 17 catches for 326 yards on the season, an impressive 19.2-yard average. As for the spotlight, he has no problem when Dallas' Owens and Cincinnati's Johnson get more of it because of their antics.
"I like what those guys do," Moss said. "Me and Chad are close friends. T.O., I know of him. I like their game, but that's why there's T.O. and that's why there's Chad Johnson -- because they're their own guy. I'm going to do what I do, and so far it's been getting me along. I'm 27, and I haven't had any problems."