By Leonard Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 17, 2005
KANSAS CITY, Mo., Oct. 16 -- As Washington running back Clinton Portis limped out of the training room at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, wincing from the pain of a bruised shin and various other bumps and bruises, team owner Daniel Snyder stopped him for a moment and told him: "I appreciate your effort. Everyone sees it."
Portis began his day by ripping off a 13-yard run up the middle, looking very much like the back who once gained 218 yards and scored five touchdowns against the Chiefs the last time he played against them as a Denver Bronco in 2003. But on Sunday, he finished with 77 yards on 21 carries, adding 51 more yards with four receptions.
For the fifth straight game, he was not able to get into the end zone, and as he sat at his locker, the toll on his battered body was obvious. Portis, who missed two days of practice last week with a sore calf, on Sunday, had, in addition to a banged-up shin, a cut on his lip, and blood oozing from a cut on the back of his neck.
"I've got all week to think about the pain in my leg," Portis said. "As long as I can stand and as long as I can go, I'll go."
Portis had just five carries in the second half, a result, he said, of having to play catch-up football once the Chiefs took a 14-7 lead early in the third quarter.
"You can't take anything away from that defense," he said. "The second half we played catch up. We really didn't run the ball too much in the second half. You should take your hat off to that defense. They did a good job."
Yet, for a second straight week and a second straight loss on the road, the Redskins dominated the statistics, out-gaining the Chiefs in total yardage (398-274), first downs (26-18) and passing yards (297-178). But that was little consolation to any of the Redskins, and particularly wide receiver Santana Moss, who had a career day in receiving yards (173) and matched his professional best of 10 receptions.
"This doesn't taste good or feel good," Moss said on a day when one of those receptions became a 78-yard catch and run with a screen pass for a third-quarter touchdown. "In the end, you know we shoulda had it, but shoulda, coulda, woulda don't mean anything. You turn over the ball once and sometimes you don't have a chance. We did it three times."
Portis was particularly impressed with Moss's performance Sunday.
"That's why he came here, to make plays" he said. "He wanted this opportunity and he's been carrying us. Every time we need a big play, he's making it happen."
Moss very nearly made it happen on the Redskins' final desperation offensive play. With 14 seconds left and his team trailing by seven, Moss appeared to have a step on Sammy Knight and flashed open in the end zone for a potential 33-yard game-tying touchdown. But, at the last instant, Knight leaped high and managed to tip the pass incomplete as time expired.
Knight made "a terrific play," Moss said. "They had a cover-2 [defense]. I was hoping [Knight] bit on it. I had my hands up and I thought I was going to catch it, but he just tipped it. I just know we've got to keep pushing. One thing I see [on this team] is a lot of guys who don't give up. We just have to keep our heads up and we'll be all right."
Quarterback Mark Brunell never saw the final outcome of his 41st and final pass, intended for Moss in the end zone. Just after releasing the ball, he was banged hard to the ground by second-year defensive end Jared Allen. At a different point of the game, Allen might have been called for roughing the passer. Brunell said simply, "I don't know if it was."
Brunell had his second straight 300-yard passing game, the first time he has done that since the 2000 season when he started for Jacksonville, but that feat meant little to him, especially after fumbling the ball twice.
The first came when Brunell dropped back to pass with the Redskins facing third and goal at the Chiefs 7 on their first possession of the day. Brunell said that Allen "got a hand on it when I was throwing. If I had to do it again, I'd have liked to step up [in the pocket]. He made a great play. I think we would have walked away with a touchdown. I should have walked up more in the pocket and gotten it away. I was looking at [tight end] Chris [Cooley]. He was running a good route. It was there."
The second fumble came as Brunell was trying to run for a first down on third and nine from the Washington 39. Allen hit him from his blind side and the ball came out, with Allen also recovering it at the Washington 40.
"You guys were telling me all week what a great runner I was," Brunell said, "but you've got to tuck the ball away. If you don't, it will come out."
The ball came out one more time, on second and three from the Kansas City 25. This time, reserve running back Rock Cartwright was hit by Allen as he fought for first-down yardage. Instead, Knight picked up the ball and ran 80 yards for a touchdown and no one felt worse for Cartwright than Brunell.
"Rock is just a great guy," Brunell said. "Nobody works harder, nobody has a better attitude. These things just happen. I'm not going to be the only one to say these things happen. It's unfortunate. We'll bounce back and we'll rally around each other. It's very frustrating. We're doing some good things. If we do our own part and we're smarter with the ball, we'll be okay."