By David Ramsey
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, October 10, 2005
DENVER, Oct. 9 -- Tatum Bell was an afterthought in the 2004 Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey trade, a nameless future second-round pick that went to Denver along with Portis in an exchange that radically changed the faces of the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos.
Sunday, the afterthought -- drafted out of Oklahoma State by the Broncos with that pick in 2004 -- trampled the Redskins, scoring two touchdowns and carrying the otherwise sluggish Denver Broncos to a 21-19 victory on a miserable, wet Sunday at Invesco Field at Mile High.
The Redskins held the Broncos to 11 first downs and 257 total yards. They shut down quarterback Jake Plummer and starting running back Mike Anderson.
But they couldn't handle Bell, who rushed for 127 yards on only 12 carries.
Even Portis was impressed.
Bell is "a guy they brought in to make big plays and he did . . . so just tip your hat off to him," Portis said.
Bell wears the No. 26 that once belonged to Portis. He knows Portis wore the number as he roared to 3,099 yards in only two seasons with the Broncos. He also knows he outgained Portis, who gained 103 yards in 20 carries.
"I felt good going out and playing good against the old 26," Bell said.
Anderson once served as Portis's backup. He laughed as he considered his current understudy's dominating performance.
"He was the difference," Anderson said of Bell. "But you know what? We all knew he had that kind of potential. It was just a matter of when he was going to show up. He showed up today."
Bell announced himself almost immediately. The Broncos drove quickly to the Redskins 34, where they faced a fourth and one with 11 minutes 49 seconds left in the first quarter.
Denver decided to go for the first down. In the Broncos' game earlier this season against the San Diego Chargers, Denver gambled on fourth and one and called an outside pitch.
The Redskins knew what was coming. In a virtual repeat of the play against the Chargers, Plummer pitched to Bell, who was instantly confronted by defensive end Phillip Daniels.
"The guy played it almost too well," Anderson said of Daniels.
It looked as if the run would lose at least three yards, but Bell faked Daniels outside and then whizzed right past him.
"Tatum made a great move to the inside and the rest is history," Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan said.
Bell moved outside and sprinted down the sideline for a 34-yard touchdown. His third-quarter touchdown wasn't as dramatic. He swept right, looked up and saw "open field in front of me." He ripped 55 yards to give the Broncos a 21-10 lead they were barely able to keep.
Bell collected nearly half of Denver's offense on his 12 carries, but he declined to campaign for the starting job.
On Sunday, he carried his team to victory. On Monday, he returns to his second-string status behind Anderson. "He's doing something that I'm not doing because he's still the starter," Bell said.