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Moss’ Impressive Season

The 2010 season was by all accounts a disappointment for the Washington Redskins. The new head coach and quarterback couldn’t deliver the team to the postseason as fans had hoped; however, one longtime Redskin played some of the best football of his career. Wide receiver Santana Moss, a 10-year veteran, turned 31during the past offseason. At only 5 feet 10 inches tall, he is small and getting older for his position. Nonetheless, Moss recorded a career-high 93 receptions this season for a second best 1,115 yards, likely because he played more slot receiver (a role he excels at). His increased production landed him among the league’s best receivers and he became one of Washington’s go-to players.

Moss started all 16 games for the Redskins, during which he caught 93 passes for 1,115 yards, with a 12 yard average, 56 yard long, and 6 touchdowns. He had 9 catches of over 20 yards, 3 catches of over 40 yards, and 3 games of over 100 receiving yards. Moss’ statistics are no surprise to fans who have watched him play every Sunday. Though his presence on the field always impacted the game, the following moments stand out as his best performances.

Santana Moss played his best game against the Saint Louis Rams in week 3. He caught 6 passes for a season-high 124 yards, with a 20.7 yard average, a 56 yard long, and a touchdown. The touchdown reception came with 14:43 left in the 2nd quarter on 1st and 10 at the Rams’ 21. McNabb faked a handoff then ran to his right and threw the ball downfield to Santana Moss, who beat the Rams’ defender to make the catch in the end zone. At the start of the 3rd quarter, Washington trailed Saint Louis 13-14. On 1st and 10 at the Redskins’ 27, McNabb stepped back and heaved another deep pass to Moss, who caught the ball for a gain of 56 yards (his season long). As he ran after the catch, Rams’ rookie safety Darian Stewart brought him down with a horse collar tackle. The play drew a 9 yard penalty, giving Washington the ball at the Saint Louis 8. Four plays later, the Redskins kicked a field goal to gain a 16-14 lead. Washington could not manage another score and went on to lose to the game 16-30.

Moss also had a big game in Tennessee during week 11. He made 6 catches for 106 yards with a 17.7 yard average, 48 yard long, and a touchdown. The scoring began halfway through the 1st quarter when the Titans’ Marc Mariani returned a Washington punt 87 yards for a touchdown. When the Redskins got the ball back at their own 21, Donovan McNabb threw a play-action pass 48 yards downfield to Santana Moss. Titan Courtland Finnegan tackled Moss, causing the ball to come loose and roll out of bounds at the 31. Tennessee challenged the ruling of a catch, but booth review confirmed the completion. Washington continued driving down the field to the Tennessee 5 yard line. On 2nd down with 5:07 to play in the 1st quarter, McNabb threw a short pass to Moss in the end zone for the touchdown. The score tied the game at 7 apiece. The Redskins went on the beat the Titans 19-16.

Santana Moss had his highest scoring performance during Washington’s week 15 game at Dallas. He caught 8 passes for 72 yards, with a 9 yard average, a 20 yard long, and 2 touchdowns. The game began poorly for the Redskins, who found themselves trailing the Cowboys 7-27 nearly halfway through the 3rd quarter. Washington, led by Rex Grossman after Donovan McNabb’s unceremonious benching, advanced to Dallas’ 10 yard line. Moss ran a quick slant route and caught a pass from Grossman for 10 yards and the touchdown. Then, at the start of the 4th quarter, Grossman threw another short pass to Moss, who caught the ball in the back of the end zone for 5 yards and a second touchdown. Instead of kicking for the extra point, Washington opted to go for the 2 point conversion. Cooley made the catch, putting the Redskins within striking distance of the Cowboys at 22-30. Despite the 4th quarter rally, Washington lost the game 30-33.

So how does Santana Moss’ impressive performance compare to the NFL’s other top receivers? He is 3rd in receptions in the league with 93. Only Atlanta’s Roddy White and Indianapolis’ Reggie Wayne have more. Moss’ 1,115 yards come in 10th in the league and his 69.7 yards per game come in 16th. Santana Moss tops such talent as Wes Welker, Marques Colston, Miles Austin, Hines Ward, and Braylon Edwards in receptions, total yards, and yards per game. Not too shabby.

Whether or not Moss can continue playing at such a high level next year hinges on his health. At 31, Moss is entering a stage in his career where age becomes a factor. The physical wear and tear of years as a starting wide receiver in the NFL will begin catching up with him. No player, not even Brett Favre, escapes the ravages of time. Fortunately for the Redskins, Moss had a very healthy season and missed no games due to injury. A thorough health regimen including multiple massages and chiropractor visits a week helps keep him in top condition. He proved during the 2010 season that his skills and speed still contend with the best in the league. Because he becomes a free agent this offseason, Moss’ future with the Redskins is uncertain; however, I doubt the franchise is willing to let their top receiver go. I expect Washington to resign Santana Moss, but the length of the contract and money involved is more difficult to predict. If he remains healthy (that’s a big if), Santana Moss should have a very productive 2011 season and beyond.

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