Gibbs off to running start

Old script dusted off, as new back Portis reprises Riggins' role

Redskins 16, Buccaneers 10

Nfl Gameday

Weekone

September 13, 2004|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER - Do you remember now? Do you remember those Joe Gibbs-coached-Washington Redskins games of yesteryear that emphasized blocking and basics and ball control and multiple offensive sets?

Yesterday, in his return to football after an 11-year absence, Gibbs refreshed local fans' memories of what football looked like in the nation's capital when Ronald Reagan was president and the Redskins were accustomed to winning close football games.

It's not that Washington's 16-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was Gibbs' or the Redskins' best work. But it certainly was the old coach's prototype, with a few twists.

Calling the plays from the sideline, Gibbs and offensive assistant Joe Bugel used newly acquired Clinton Portis as their 2004 version of John Riggins, giving the running back 29 carries for 148 yards and a touchdown.

"He's a big-time back that weighs 208 pounds. He's got that Riggo mentality," Bugel said of Portis. "He had told us, `Hey, dude, you're going to love me in the regular season.' Today I gave him a big kiss on the cheek and said, `I really love you.'"

Portis scored Washington's only touchdown on the Redskins' third play from scrimmage. Washington coaches said they avoided handing off to Portis on the first two plays so the defense wouldn't key on him so much.

On the third play, Portis found a hole on a draw play and raced 64 yards for the score. "It really wasn't where the run was intended to go, but he made a cut and the defense blitzed from that side, so Clinton cut back underneath," quarterback Mark Brunell said.

Portis and the Redskins nearly finished the game without a turnover. Gibbs has always been maniacal about hanging onto the ball, even asking his players to practice snaps with wet footballs. The one turnover committed by the Redskins yesterday nearly cost them the game.

With the Redskins ahead 10-3, Brunell fell handing off to Portis, and Ronde Barber took advantage of the botched exchange by scooping up the ball and carrying it into the end zone from 9 yards out with 4:44 left in the third quarter.

"I tripped up with the offensive line," Brunell said. "I thought I could get it to Clinton. Very foolish."

But Tampa Bay was never in position to score again.

"We had trouble getting much going offensively," said Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden. "The myriad of blitzes we got today makes it very difficult at times to run a football. You've got to hit a big play somewhere in the passing game."

It didn't help that the Buccaneers lost wide receiver Joey Galloway to a groin injury in the first quarter.

The aggressive Washington defense held the Buccaneers without a first down on Tampa Bay's first five possessions. By the time the Buccaneers finally got one, it was midway through the second quarter.

The Redskins used defense to take the lead for good in the fourth quarter. With the score 10-10, harried Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson was intercepted by linebacker Antonio Pierce, who returned it 16 yards to the Tampa Bay 39. Washington then took the lead on a 30-yard field goal by John Hall.

"I think they [the Buccaneers] expected pressure, but I don't think they expected as much pressure as we gave," said Washington safety Matt Bowen, who had two sacks and a forced fumble.

Despite losing, the Tampa Bay defense held Brunell to 125 passing yards and limited Washington to one touchdown. "That's Bucs' ball," Barber said. "We won a Super Bowl that way."

But Tampa Bay couldn't stop the Redskins late in the game when it needed to the most.

Washington played ball control late in the fourth quarter with a 13-10 lead, keeping possession for nearly five minutes, leading to a 34-field goal by Hall with 16 seconds left. It was a drive the old Redskins' offensive line from the '80s - "The Hogs" - could have appreciated.

By the time the Buccaneers got the ball back, they had time for only one play - a sack of Johnson by LaVar Arrington.

"I think the best part of that ballgame besides the first quarter was that five-minute drive where we just hogged the football," Bugel said.

TAMPA BAY 0 3 7 0-10

WASHINGTON 7 3 0 6-16

First quarter WAS: Portis 64 run (Hall kick), 11:29.

Second quarter WAS: FG Hall 20, 14:32. TB: FG Gramatica 47, 12:57.

Third quarter TB: Barber 9 fumble return (Gramatica kick), 4:44.

Fourth quarter WAS: FG Hall 30, 8:55. WAS: FG Hall 34, :16. A: 90,098.

TB WAS

First downs 10 15

Total Net Yards 169 291

Rushes-yards 15-30 39-166

Passing 139 125

Punt Returns 5-21 3-18

Kickoff Returns 5-138 3-63

Interceptions Ret. 0-0 1-16

Comp-Att-Int 24-37-1 13-24-0

Sacked-Yards lost 4-30 0-0

Punts 9-40.1 7-49.6

Fumbles-Lost 3-1 3-1

Penalties-Yards 6-44 3-23

Time of Possession 27:13 32:47

Rushing: Tampa Bay, Garner 11-25, Alstott 4-5. Washington, Portis 29-148, Betts 5-17, Brunell 5-1.

Passing: Tampa Bay, Johnson 24-37-1-169. Washington, Brunell 13-24-0-125.

Receiving: Tampa Bay, Clayton 7-53, Brown 4-23, Alstott 3-17, Dilger 3-12, Dudley 2-31, Schroeder 2-26, Garner 1-4, White 1-3, Galloway 1-0. Washington, Gardner 4-61, Portis 4-15, Coles 3-27, Cooley 1-16, Betts 1-6.

Missed field goals: Washington, Hall 50 (WR).

Keys to game

Defensive pressure: The Redskins used all sorts of blitzes against Buccaneers QB Brad Johnson, sacking him four times. They also held Tampa Bay to 30 yards rushing.

Ball-hogging: The Redskins held the ball twice as long as the Buccaneers in the first and fourth quarters. Washington had it for all but 16 seconds of the game's final five minutes.

Raising the roof: The record FedEx Field crowd of 90,098 was more boisterous than usual. "It was loud out there, and we had a lack of communication different times," Johnson said.

Next for Redskins

Matchup: Redskins (1-0) vs. New York Giants (0-1)

Site: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 5/WNAV (1430 AM), WJFK (106.7 FM)

Line: Redskins by 3

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