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Sept. 13, 2004

In defensive struggle, Portis leads Redskins

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
When Clinton Portis imagined his first run as a Washington Redskin, he likely thought of a long run for a touchdown that showcased his speed, strength and agility. Against Tampa Bay, his vision became a reality.

Portis’ 64-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and three John Hall field goals carried Washington (1-0) to a win over a Tampa Bay offense that was completely shut down. Finally, there might be a Clinton in Washington that even Republicans can support.

The 16-10 win was the Redskins’ 500th regular season win in franchise history.

The Buccaneers (0-1) were held to a startlingly poor 180 yards of total offense, and just 30 yards on the ground. New Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams blitzed early and often to keep the Bucs off balance leaving them without a first down until a Mike Alstott run halfway through the second quarter.

After Portis’ touchdown run, it looked for a while as if things were going perfectly in Joe Gibbs’ debut. However, the offense began to struggle giving Tampa Bay a shot to win the game.

After John Hall’s 20 yard field goal made it 10-0 Washington, Martin Gramatica responded with a 47-yard field goal following a 54-yard kickoff return by Frank Murphy that cut the lead to 10-3 for Washington at the half.

A sellout crowd at FedEx Field in Landover of 90,098, the largest in ‘Skins history, began to really sweat after Mark Brunell’s fumble inside the Washington 10 was picked up by Ronde Barber and ran into the end zone for a touchdown that tied the game at 10-10.

But the lone turnover by Tampa Bay helped Washington win the game. With 13:19 left in the game, Antonio Pierce intercepted Brad Johnson at midfield, leading to a John Hall field goal that would give the Redskins the lead for good.

Hall put one more FG through with 20 seconds left, and a LaVar Arrington sack of Johnson ended the game and sealed the win for Washington.

The Redskins defense was anchored by linebacker blitzes which led to four sacks, two by Matt Bowen, a strong-hitting safety. The defense held Mike Alstott and Charlie Garner to a combined 30 yards rushing on 15 carries.

Mark Brunell’s Washington debut was not as flashy as Portis’ 29 carries for 149 yards, as Brunell went just 13-24 for a mere 129 yards and 0 TDs. Rod Gardner led the Redskin wide outs with 4 receptions for 61 yards. Aside from Portis, nobody on either offense had a big day.

However, Gibbs’ play calling and Portis’ rushing helped lead the offensive side of the victory. Portis’ run was a thing of coaching excellence, as Gibbs called a delayed handoff that fooled the Bucs and left a gaping hole on the right side of the line. Portis saw it and went barely touched down the right side of the field for the first points of the season.

NOTES: Tampa’s two new free agent wide receivers, Joey Galloway and Tim Brown were ineffective. Galloway left injured in the second quarter, and Brown had just 23 receiving yards…the Buccaneers’ best receiver was rookie Michael Clayton, who led all receivers with 7 catches and 53 yards…Brad Johnson was able to complete 23 passes, but only for 154 yards…Shelton Quarles had 13 tackles for Tampa Bay, who shot themselves in the foot with six penalties…The teams combined for under 500 yards of total offense.

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  • mak on September 14, 2004
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