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AP: Giants defense on spot after dreadful opener


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Giants defense on spot after dreadful opener


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - After watching videotapes of former teammate Clinton Portis in his first game with the Washington Redskins, it was hard to tell if Keith Washington grinned or grimaced.

What struck the New York Giants defensive end repeatedly was that Portis was playing at a different speed than the Tampa Bay Buccaneer defense last weekend.

"Guys were in front of him and he just ran through them before they could close on him," Washington said of his former Denver Broncos teammate. "It's amazing how much faster he is."

Coming off a dreadful performance in a 31-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Giants defense will have to play a lot better to slow Portis and avoid an 0-2 start under Tom Coughlin.

"This whole team needs to play a lot better, offense, defense, special teams," Washington said Thursday. "We need a win. We didn't get the job done (last week), and as far as this team is concerned we have to do something about it."

The Giants' offense showed potential last weekend, gaining 413 yards against the Eagles.

The defense showed little, allowing 454 yards. Philadelphia halfback Brian Westbrook gained 119 yards, including a 50-yard run that got his team back in the game after New York took a 7-0 lead.

Portis had an even bigger game in getting Joe Gibbs a win in his coaching return with Washington. He finished with 148 yards on 29 carries, including a 64-yard touchdown run on his first carry.

Washington said there is no doubt the Redskins' offense starts with the run. It's an area the Giants think they can control.

They didn't last week because they were caught out of position on Westbrook's long run and they missed a couple tackles that allowed the Eagles to pick up some yards.

"The defensive line, we're the first point of attack," Washington said. "If we don't hold up, we're in a for a long day. We definitely have to be strong at the point of attack and hold this running game to a minimum."

Defensive tackle Norman Hand, who was brought in this season along with Fred Robbins to clog up the middle, said the line needs to get penetration. Only Michael Strahan did that consistently last weekend.

"If you run east to west, it's going to be a long day," Hand said. "You have to run north and south against them. That's how you limit his cutback lanes."

Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell said that Portis is hard to stop.

"He has the ability to turn just a three- or four-yard gain into a big touchdown run," said Brunell, who also threw four passes to his halfback for 15 yards. "He's got great vision, great instincts, he can cut, he can run, he's quick, very smart and very physical. There's not a lot that he can't do."

Washington laughed when asked if he would say hello to Portis on Sunday.

"On the first play I would like to," he said.

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