With Portis in high gear, Redskins stop skid, 13-10

Back's 171 yards help beat Chicago, end four-game slide

October 18, 2004|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO - Running back Clinton Portis was talking again. Head coach Joe Gibbs was smiling again. And the pain in both of cornerback Fred Smoot's shoulders could not dampen his joy and relief.

Who cared how ugly the proceedings were at Soldier Field yesterday?

The Washington Redskins found their missing ground game, as Portis led the way with a season-high 171 rushing yards on 36 carries. They got two field goals from Ola Kimrin, a Swede who had never kicked one in a regular-season game. And they rode another muscular effort from their defense to a 13-10 victory over the struggling Chicago Bears before 61,945.

The victory ended a four-game losing streak, and it sent the Redskins (2-4) into a bye week with a boost of self-esteem and their playoff hopes still flickering.

"I feel terrible, but I feel so good," said Smoot, who finished the game with six solo tackles despite suffering a stinger in his left shoulder early and a mild separation of his right shoulder in the second half. He left the field several times in agony.

"We needed this. It's a big lift off of our shoulders," Smoot added. "I'm glad the bye week is coming now."

Washington got much of its game working for a change, although the Redskins did not finally put down Chicago until rookie safety Sean Taylor picked off a pass from Bears quarterback Jonathan Quinn with 13 seconds left.

The defense, stout all season, yielded 126 rushing yards, including 97 to running back Thomas Jones, but did not surrender a touchdown for the second straight week. It abused Quinn, sacking him four times and limiting him to 65 yards passing. The Bears (1-4) managed nine first downs and came up empty on 12 of 13 third-down chances.

On a day that featured 19 punts before a mostly snoozing crowd, neither offense sparkled, although the Redskins had a wrecking ball in Portis and a passing game that did just enough to win.

Washington quarterback Mark Brunell completed eight of 22 pass attempts for 95 yards. Four of those completions went to Laveranues Coles (52 yards), each for a first down. Brunell's biggest completion, an 18-yarder to a wide-open Rod Gardner in the left corner of the end zone, gave Washington a 10-0 lead on the opening play of the second quarter.

But Brunell, who had four passes tipped at the line of scrimmage, helped Chicago get back into the game with slightly less than six minutes left in the first half. His tipped pass was picked off by cornerback Jerry Azumah, who returned it 70 yards for a touchdown, cutting the Redskins' lead to 10-7.

"I felt like we were playing hard and doing some good things. Then, all of sudden, same deal," said Gibbs, alluding to other costly turnovers that have harmed Washington this season. "We've been through a lot in six weeks. We've got to find a way offensively. The defense just played great. That's been the story of the first six weeks. At the end, I was bound and determined to put it in their hands."

The rest of the lifting belonged to Portis, who took his recent frustration out on the Bears and ended his two-week silence with the media after pounding Chicago with his most punishing effort as a Redskin.

"I've been telling the [offensive] line all week, `Just give me that crack, give me that crease.' I'm a big-play guy," Portis said. "I told Coach [Gibbs] after we went three-and-out one time, `Do you see my tongue hanging out? Run me until my tongue is hanging out.' "

Washington's much-needed victory also yielded an unlikely hero in Kimrin, 32. He was on the team's preseason roster before being released and had recently been working construction before returning to his residence in Malmo, Sweden, last week. The Redskins called him Thursday after John Hall suffered a groin injury in practice, and soon Kimrin was on a plane again.

Yesterday, he got Washington on the board with a 41-yard field goal in the first quarter, then kicked a 26-yarder with 11:13 left in the game to make it 13-7.

Keys to the game

Clinton Portis returned to form: The Redskins spread the field with multiple-receiver sets that gave him room at times, and the offensive line was inspired. Portis, with impressive power and cutback ability, did the rest.

Bears quarterback Jonathan Quinn played to form: He's been a backup most of his career, and he showed why. He held the ball too long in the pocket and took sacks as a result, got confused by the Redskins' man-to-man and zone coverages and failed miserably on third down.

Redskins' smothering defense: The Washington defense was again as good as advertised. The Redskins allowed 54 plays from scrimmage and permitted an average of 3 yards per play. Chicago had 34 yards net passing.

- Gary Lambrecht

Next for Redskins

Matchup: Green Bay Packers (2-4) vs. Redskins (2-4)

Site: FedEx Field, Landover

When: Oct. 31, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 45/WNAV (1430 AM), WJFK (1300 AM), WJFK (106.7 FM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

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