LANDOVER -- For once, the Washington Redskins could enjoy themselves.
After seeing its past seven games decided by seven points or fewer, Washington earned sizable contributions from its offense and defense as the Redskins overwhelmed the San Francisco 49ers, 52-17, at FedEx Field yesterday.
In ending a two-game skid by beating a 49ers team that fell to 1-5 with its fifth straight loss, Washington (4-2) gave the 90,224 fans plenty to cheer about.
The team's 52-point output was the franchise's highest since a 56-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 10, 1991. The Redskins scored touchdowns on five of their six first-half possessions against San Francisco's 32nd-ranked defense, taking a 35-7 advantage into halftime. And for the first time this season, Washington finished on the positive side of the take-away/giveaway ratio (plus-2).
"I think we've played seven or eight straight where it's come down to the last play of the game," said a visibly relieved Joe Gibbs, who became just the 14th coach in NFL history to reach the 150-victory plateau. "I think it was good to kind of get one where we could get some guys out of the game and get them fresher and kind of relax a little."
With a 45-7 lead after the third quarter, Gibbs rested many of his starters, including quarterback Mark Brunell, running back Clinton Portis and wide receiver Santana Moss.
Brunell completed 13 of 20 passes for 252 yards and tossed three touchdown passes, two to Mike Sellers and one to Moss. Brunell didn't throw an interception, was sacked just once and finished with a passer rating of 147.9.
Portis rushed for 101 yards on 19 carries and scored three rushing touchdowns, ending his seven-game scoreless streak. It was his first three-touchdown game since Dec. 7, 2003, when Portis scored five times on the ground against the Kansas City Chiefs as a Denver Bronco.
Moss caught five passes for 112 yards -- his fourth 100-yard effort this season -- and made a 32-yard touchdown catch when he exploited the 49ers' cover-2 defense late in the second quarter.
The Redskins' offense compiled a season-best 457 yards and 24 first downs, did not commit a turnover and went 6-for-7 inside San Francisco's 20-yard line.
"We're not holding anything back," said Moss, who leads the team in touchdowns with five. "Coach is calling nice plays, and we're executing. It feels good to be on this side with a `W' and knowing that you won the game outright and that you didn't have to fight too much because you went out and put the points up early."
As good as the offense was, the defense was equally solid. San Francisco totaled just 194 yards of offense, crossed midfield just three times and went three-and-out on seven of 13 possessions.
Rookie quarterback Alex Smith, the top overall pick in this year's draft, finished 8-for-16 for 92 passing yards, was sacked five times, fumbled three times and lost one, and was intercepted once.
The fumble caused by linebacker Marcus Washington and recovered by end Phillip Daniels and the interception snatched by safety Sean Taylor were Washington's first take-aways since the season opener against the Chicago Bears.
"We've been working on that since training camp, but we've been putting more emphasis because we haven't been getting any," said middle linebacker Lemar Marshall, who had four tackles and one sack. "It just makes you enjoy what you're doing."
Notes -- In a surprise development, linebacker LaVar Arrington played extensively and finished with a game-high nine tackles, two for a loss. Arrington, who participated in just two defensive snaps and two punt coverage plays in the past three games, said he was happy to be playing. "It's like I was dreaming today," he said. "I couldn't have dreamed it any better. Of course, I could've knocked the ball out and got a touchdown, but I don't want to be greedy." ... Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (strained groin) was the only notable injury for Washington. The team deactivated rookie cornerback Carlos Rogers (ankle), even though he was listed by the Redskins as probable for the game. Joining Rogers were kicker John Hall (quadriceps), defensive linemen Cedric Killings (ankle) and Aki Jones (hamstring), cornerback Dimitri Patterson, running back Nehemiah Broughton and offensive lineman Jim Molinaro. ... The 49ers, who had already listed starting cornerback Ahmed Plummer (ankle) and starting linebacker Saleem Rasheed (knee) as out, also deactivated three more starters in wide receiver Arnaz Battle (knee) and offensive tackles Jonas Jennings (shoulder) and Patrick Estes (hamstring).
Keys to the game
Offense in gear
From Mark Brunell's three touchdown passes to Clinton Portis' three rushing touchdowns to Santana Moss' fourth 100-yard receiving effort in six games, Washington executed early and put the game out of reach quickly. That kind of production will be needed when the Redskins face the Giants, Eagles and Bucs in their next three games.
Hounded by questions about his unit's inability to collect sacks and turnovers, Gregg Williams, the assistant head coach in charge of defense, pressured 49ers rookie quarterback Alex Smith relentlessly. A Smith fumble and interception led to Redskins touchdowns.
Red zone success
Washington, which had been average (6-for-14 for 42.8 percent) inside opponents' 20-yard line, was a robust 5-for-6 (83.3 percent) in the red zone yesterday.
Redskins@Giants Sunday, 1 p.m., Ch. 5, 1430 AM, 106.7 FM