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WT: Portis happily ends drought


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Portis happily ends drought

By David Elfin and Ryan O'Halloran



Clinton Portis waited eight games, 161 carries and 295 days for a touchdown.

So yesterday, he decided to triple his pleasure. The Washington running back rushed for three touchdowns to lead the Redskins to a 52-17 rout of the San Francisco 49ers yesterday at FedEx Field.

"Man, that was the best feeling," said Portis, who performed dance moves after his first score, cartwheels after his second and after his third a jig he said derived from the film "Napoleon Dynamite."

Coach Joe Gibbs, who prided himself on his rushing offense during his first tenure with the Redskins, was as relieved as Portis to see him finally reach the end zone.

"There's no reason we shouldn't be a good rush football team," Gibbs said. "It was frustrating for us and certainly for Clinton, so it was good to get a couple down in there. Maybe that was a good omen for us."

Portis carried 19 times for 101 yards before being pulled from the game midway through the third quarter with Washington up 42-7. Backup Ladell Betts added 92 yards on 12 carries, and third-stringer Rock Cartwright scored a touchdown late in the game.

"I know Clinton was definitely excited to get in the end zone," right tackle Jon Jansen said. "I'm happy for him and that we got some rushing touchdowns, but no matter who scored 'em, we're happy we had 52 points."

Turnovers ... finally

The Redskins' second and third takeaways of the season came 271 minutes, 30 seconds apart.

Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin recovered a fumble in the season opener against the Bears, and end Phillip Daniels recovered another yesterday -- five games later -- against the 49ers.

The Redskins failed to force a turnover in consecutive games against Dallas, Seattle, Denver and Kansas City. Washington won the turnover battle for the first time this season: The Redskins remain minus-6 for the season.

"Today was a breakthrough from that standpoint," coach Joe Gibbs said.

Daniels' recovery of the fumble by 49ers quarterback Alex Smith -- linebacker Marcus Washington forced the turnover -- set up a 32-yard touchdown reception by Santana Moss that gave the Redskins a 28-7 lead.

In the third quarter, safety Sean Taylor returned an interception 32 yards to the 49ers' 3-yard line. He hoped, however, to score his first NFL touchdown.

"I was pretty close," said Taylor, who added with a laugh, "I don't have any running skills."

Mr. Touchdown

Mike Sellers, who caught just 26 passes and scored only six touchdowns in his first five NFL seasons, scored on each of his two receptions yesterday, giving the H-back four touchdowns on five catches this season.

"I was shocked. That play was designed for me. I'm not going to try to figure that out or why it's happening," Sellers said. "I'm just taking it as it comes."

Joked Said: "I'm going to have to do something to Mike because he's taking away from my touchdowns."

Sellers opened the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown reception that was typical of his short catches. The 19-yard grab he made just before halftime to give the Redskins a 35-7 lead was a different story.

"I was shocked," Sellers said of being so wide-open on the designed pass down the middle from Mark Brunell.

"Mike is getting open because nobody wants to tackle him," Brunell said of the 260-pound former fullback's sudden scoring prowess. "He was the go-to guy on that play. We looked at the film and saw an opportunity depending on the coverage. We got the right coverage, and he ran a great route."

Griffin injures groin

An already depleted group of defensive tackles sustained another setback when Cornelius Griffin departed the game with a groin injury.

Cedric Killings (ankle) and Aki Jones (hamstring) missed the game, and Joe Salave'a (foot) was slowed by an injury that didn't allow him to practice last week.

Griffin was injured in the first half, returned to the game later and departed for good in the third quarter.

"I felt a little pop in the hip flexor area, but I'll be OK," said Griffin, who had one sack.

Salave'a, who made two tackles, spent most of the team's practice time doing exercise work in the weight room.

"I tried to get as much treatment as possible and it worked out well," he said. "I was able to do some things, but I wasn't 100 percent. But I was able to maintain some kind of normalcy with our personnel."

Killings, cornerback Carlos Rogers (ankle) and kicker John Hall (quadriceps) also missed the game because of injuries. Rogers was a surprising entry on the inactive list since he practiced Friday.

The team reported no injuries other than Griffin's from the game.

Defense shows 3-4 look

The Redskins used a 3-4 defensive alignment extensively against the 49ers.

"That's what we had planned on because we practiced that a whole lot during the week," defensive end Phillip Daniels said. "It's always been one of our packages, but we just used it a little more."

Assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said the 3-4 was used to put pressure on rookie quarterback Alex Smith.

"We thought we had lulled some people to sleep [by not using it], but we were able to bring it up today," Williams said. "When we saw some of their protection schemes were having trouble handling it, we just poured it on."

The Redskins' five sacks were a season high. They entered the game with only five sacks for the season.

"What that three-man front does is it gets faster guys on the field and LaVar [Arrington] and other guys capitalized on that," Salave'a said.

Said Smith, who was 8-for-16 for 92 yards: "They're very unique, and it's something very different from what I played against two weeks ago [against Indianapolis]. We went from a defense that didn't throw a lot at us to a defense this week that had a lot of movement, a lot of disguise and brought a lot of different pressures."

Rock rebounds

Running back Rock Cartwright blamed himself for last week's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Cartwright fumbled at the Kansas City 25-yard line with the score tied 14-14, and Chiefs safety Sammy Knight scooped the ball up and raced 80 yard for the go-ahead touchdown.

So Cartwright was happy to provide some points himself yesterday. Cartwright scored on a 4-yard run, carrying five times for 14 yards. He also returned all four 49ers kickoffs for a total of 82 yards.

"It still doesn't make up for what happened last week, but I appreciate getting the opportunity to get to carry the ball," said Cartwright, who last scored in the 2003 finale against Philadelphia. "The offensive line did a great job blocking. All I had to do was make a move and run to the end zone."

Portis said Cartwright has been too hard on himself.

"Rock shouldn't feel bad," Portis said. "Everybody in the world fumbles, Bo Jackson, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders. If you [let it] linger, that's when it becomes a problem. He got another opportunity, and he redeemed himself."

Ramsey shakes off rust

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey got back on the field with 13:02 left, the first appearance by the erstwhile starter since he was briefly hurt in the season opener. Brunell came on in relief in that game, and his strong play since has kept Ramsey on the bench.

"It felt good to get back in there and get a little work in," said Ramsey, who handed off eight times and threw an 8-yard pass to backup tight end Brian Kozlowski. "I love to get in there in whatever capacity. I knew at halftime there was a good chance I would get in, but I didn't know exactly when it was going to be. But I knew when we scored early [in the third quarter], I would probably get a chance to play."


The Redskins will head into November unbeaten at home (3-0) for the first time since 1992, the last season of Gibbs' first tenure.

They next play again in Landover on Nov. 6 against the Eagles. They face the Giants on Sunday at the Meadowlands. The Redskins have won four consecutive home games for the first time since 1999, their last playoff season.

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