'97 Escort in reverse runs like crap

All,
A few years ago my wife's '97 2.0L Escort fired a P0303 (engine - cyl #3 misfire) code and after replacing the plugs, wires and coil pack it still ran like crap. FWIW, those parts (except for the coil pack) were
due for replacement anyways. Ended up bringing the car into the shop and turns out the #3 fuel injector was clogged and needed replacement. The car ran like a champ until recently.
So... a few weeks ago I get another check engine light. This time the code translated to P0301. Aha, I know what the problem is, right? Maybe not.
After replacing the #1 injector myself this time... the car still ran a bit rough occassionally at idle. It was only now that I checked the plugs and found the #1 plug pretty black. The rest were a good light tan. It's been a few years and many thousands of miles later so I replaced them all.
What I've noticed now is that if I put the car into reverse... it feels like it's running on 2 or 3 cylinders. If the car is in park or neutral it recovers. Upon acceleration the car runs very strong.
I just checked the new plugs a few hours ago and they all look good except the #3 plug looks a bit darker than the rest. Not sure why this would be the case.
I'd hate to have to take the car into the shop again if this type of problem can be easily fixed. What would be unique about the reverse gear position causing the car to really run terrible? Any ideas?
Thanks for any help!
Greg
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Hopefully all those years of reading Gus' Garage in Popular Science will pay off here...
Look for a broken motor mount. When the engine moves out of position it may be putting stress on a portion of the wiring harness or line or hose.
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WOW! Gus' Garage! Me too! Great suggestion, too! Have a great day! PoD
wrote:

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Look for a weak or cracked vacuum line. The torque of being in reverse might open one up enough to throw the mix off.
PoD

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301 is Cylinder 1 Misfire Detected.
Could be plug, Spark wire or igintion coil which was my case. 200's would be injector problems. I found a new one on e-bay for $21.00 shipped. easy to install and damn cheep fix.

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