Monday, October 18, 2004

Portis, 'D' Lead Redskins to 13-10 Win

By Gary Fitzgerald,

Led by a dominating defense and strong running by Clinton Portis, the Redskins defeated the Chicago Bears 13-10 at Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon. The win improved the Redskins' record to 2-4 on the season and ended a four-game losing skid that tested the team's mettle the last few weeks.

Portis was the offensive star, rushing for 171 yards on 36 carries. He found room running behind both sides of the offensive line. As a team, the Redskins rushed for 218 yards, with Ladell Betts adding 30 rushing yards on six carries.

Portis's yardage total was the most for the Redskins since Dec. 12, 1999, when Stephen Davis rushed for 189 yards.

Mark Brunell did not post impressive numbers, but he was efficient in leading the Redskins' offense on three scoring drives. For the game, Brunell was 8-of-22 for 95 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

The Redskins' defense shined from the get-go. Led by defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin (eight tackles, two sacks), Fred Smoot (six tackles) and Sean Taylor (four tackles, one sack, one interception), the defense limited the Bears to just 160 total yards of offense. Bears' quarterback Jonathan Quinn, making his second start for injured starter Rex Grossman, was 10-of-22 for 65 yards and one interception.

Even with the dominating performances by Portis and the defense, the game went down to the wire as the Redskins' offense was unable to run out the clock with a slim three-point lead.

But Quinn was pressured repeatedly on the Bears' last opportunity to drive downfield for a game-tying field goal. Quinn was sacked twice on the last drive, and on 4th-and-15 with 25 seconds left, he was intercepted by Taylor to seal the win for the Redskins. It was Taylor's first NFL interception.

In the first half, the Redskins built a 10-0 lead midway early in the second quarter.
Kicker Ola Kimrin-signed on Saturday to replace the injured John Hall-nailed a 41-yard field goal to open the scoring in the first quarter.

On their next possession, Brunell led the Redskins on an efficient 8-play, 79-yard drive that included passes of 21 yards to Laveranues Coles and 11 yards to Portis. On the first play of the second quarter, the Redskins got in the end zone on an 18-yard pass from Brunell to a wide-open Rod Gardner.

The Bears got on the scoreboard midway through the second quarter by capitalizing on a Redskins' turnover. It was a turnover that seemed reminiscent of several others that had occurred in Redskins' games this season.

Brunell's pass to Gardner was tipped by a defensive lineman at the line of scrimmage and drifted aimlessly into the secondary. The football was hauled in by cornerback Jerry Azumah at the Bears' 30-yard line. A Pro Bowl kick return specialist, Azumah quickly found open space and raced down the right sideline for a quick seven points.

For the Redskins, it was their fourth time this season that a turnover had been returned for a touchdown by an opposing team.

The game settled into a defensive battle from that point on, with neither team scoring in the third quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, Portis led the Redskins downfield with runs of 22 yards and 17 yards. The drive stalled on the Bears' 7-yard line and Kimrin came in to kick a 26-yard field goal, putting the Redskins ahead 13-7.

Chicago responded with their only offensive drive of the game. The Bears gave the defense a heavy dose of tailback Thomas Jones (who finished the game with 97 yards on 24 carries) and he helped lead the offense to the Redskins' 28-yard line. Kicker

Paul Edinger nailed a 46-yard field goal to pull Chicago closer.

But the Redskins' defense clamped down the rest of the way.