During a team meeting late this week, Gibbs told his team, and Portis in particular, that its identity was to run the ball. "He said he was going to put it on my shoulders," said Portis, who donned a faux heavyweight championship belt in the locker room to indicate he is the NFL's best runner. "Any time you have that challenge . . . you have to find a way to step forward."
The Redskins began the opening drive on their 7-yard line after a holding penalty. But on five consecutive rushes, Portis used slithering moves and powerful runs to move Washington to its 42-yard line. Betts replaced Portis on first and 10 a play later and gained 12 yards on consecutive runs. But there was no doubt about Washington's feature tailback. Portis was re-inserted one play later on second and three from the New York 26-yard line. Portis bounced off a hard tackle to break free for a 13-yard gain.
New York quarterback Eli Manning is sacked by Phillip Daniels in the first quarter Sunday. Daniels had to leave the game later in the first half.
(Joe Giza - Reuters)
On first and goal from the New York 1-yard line, the Redskins inserted a coterie of big blockers, not hiding their intention to run. Portis plowed left before wriggling free amid a pile of bodies and into the end zone. Portis held the ball momentarily, facing the adoring crowd.
The Redskins led 14-0 after their two longest drives of the season: 13 plays, 93 yards over 7:15 in the first quarter, then 10 plays, 91 yards over 6:08 in the second quarter. The Redskins capped the second drive on second and goal from the New York 4 when Ramsey rolled left and shoveled a pass toward Portis, who was uncovered and ran the ball into the end zone.
The Redskins didn't have to go far on their next possession after defensive back Walt Harris blocked Jeff Feagles' punt. They took over the New York 31-yard line with about three minutes left in the second quarter. Washington needed four plays to drive to the New York 9-yard line for a second and five. Ramsey rolled right and zipped a touchdown pass to tight end Robert Royal just before getting pounded by a pass rusher. Royal, a third-year veteran, felt compelled to do an elaborate dance not only because of his first career touchdown but the Redskins had scored more than 18 points for the first time this season.
Royal placed the ball a yard in front of him as several teammates watched him gyrate.
"We've been talking about that dance since the season started," Royal said. "It's called the old-school tootsie roll. It's a little inside thing between the fellows on the team. We said we were going to get the goal [21 points] and when we achieved it we weren't going to slack off."
The Redskins didn't score another touchdown until 11:42 remained in the game, when Ramsey threw a six-yard pass to H-back Chris Cooley. But the rookie was too fatigued to celebrate much after having a 38-yard touchdown earlier in the drive nullified because of a penalty.
"I never really recovered just to see that penalty and then get back into the huddle," Cooley said. "I was breathing so hard. It was a mixture of tired and excited. I'm tired when I have two catches on a drive so I can only imagine when that guy [Portis] has nine carries. He had to be spent."