Each week, THN chooses their three players of the game at each position. Here are week seventeen's selections:
Offense: Clinton Portis
Portis passed Stephen Davis to become the franchise’s single-season rushing yardage leader. He also become the first Redskin to ever rush for 1,500+ yards in a season, which is remarkable considering the history of running backs that have played for the Redskins in it’s 73-year history. Portis finished the regular season with 1,516 yards rushing.
Portis ran over Philadelphia for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns. It was Portis’ fifth straight 100-yard rushing performance. Portis was taken out of the game several times due to injuries but battled through it and returned to action every time. He received extra motivation when his mother and family were taken to the Redskins sideline after they were involved in an altercation with Eagles fans.
In the fourth quarter, linebacker Lemar Marshall intercepted a Mike McMahon pass. On the very next play, Portis ran through traffic, sprinted left, and leaped into the endzone to give the Redskins a 24-20 lead.
His late-season surge could not have come at a better time, considering the moniker “5-0 or We Don’t Go” started prior to the matchup versus the St. Louis Rams. As far as offense is concerned, the Redskins are only as good as their running game, which has been the main reason for the winning streak.
Defense: Sean Taylor
Early in the game, Eagles running back Bruce Perry easily broke through the defensive line and squeaked by linebackers, but he could never escape Sean Taylor. The two became very familiar with each other by the end of the game, jawing at each after almost every Perry run. Three of Taylor’s team-leading nine tackles came against Perry.
Taylor was fierce in pass coverage but was awesome against the run the whole game.
But Taylor’s biggest contribution came with over two minutes left, following a Phillip Daniels sack that forced a Koy Detmer fumble. Taylor charged towards the ball, scooped it up, and sprinted 39 yards for his first career touchdown to seal the victory. That play was the icing on the cake and secured Washington’s first playoff appearance since 1999.
Taylor’s return included a swan dive into the endzone, and it was eerily reminiscent of Larry Centers’ game-winning touchdown run against the San Francisco 49ers that clinched the NFC East and a playoff berth.
Special Teams: Mike Sellers
When it comes to Sellers, some of his most important traits are his hustle and awareness. Both have made him a dominant force on special teams all season and were needed against Philadelphia. On Derrick Frost’s second punt in the 1st quarter, Eagles returner Dexter Wynn muffed the catch and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Sellers. The turnover was one of the many shifts in momentum in the first half that aided a struggling offense.
The Redskins started the drive at Philadelphia’s 37-yard line. The drive ended with Sellers catching a 4-yard touchdown pass from Mark Brunell.
Sellers also added one special teams tackle in the 4th quarter.