By Stephen A. Norris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Thanks to Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis, the team's best-kept secret is a secret no longer.
The quarterback in waiting has flashed his powerful arm and bull's-eye accuracy, meaning future Redskins opponents better beware. That is, of course, if you ask Portis about himself.
Portis lobbed a 17-yard touchdown pass on an option to H-back Chris Cooley with 3 minutes 15 seconds remaining in the first half, giving the Redskins a 21-10 lead over the New York Giants.
"Man, you know every time I go to these quarterback camps I beat Joe Montana for accuracy. I beat Steve Young. I beat Dan Marino. I beat all the quarterbacks, but they just don't give me an opportunity," Portis joked after the Redskins' 35-20 defeat of the Giants at FedEx Field.
The play call was a step out of sync with Coach Joe Gibbs's conservative style, which is one of the reasons the Giants were caught off guard. On second and seven from the 17-yard line, the Giants blitzed a safety, which signaled green light for Portis to throw the ball. He then completed the play he and Cooley had been practicing all week.
"I've been telling [Cooley] I was going to put this ball on the money," Portis said. "He said, 'Just put it up there, and I'll go get it.' "
It's the second time Portis has completed a pass with the Redskins -- both for touchdowns -- making him 2 for 4 passing in his career. As for Cooley, he just wanted to get in on the fun.
"I think he threw it to Laveranues [Coles] last year [in Detroit], and I was like, 'Ahh, I wish that was mine,' " Cooley said. "We had it called a couple weeks but never saw it in a game until today."
Though it seemed like a risky play with a four-point lead at the time, it was well calculated because of how successful Portis has been running the last several weeks.
"That kind of sweep outside play has been really successful for us lately," Cooley said. "We knew they would have to bring all their guys up just to stop it and so, why not slip one by them while we can?"
The play swung the momentum in favor of the Redskins and served as more evidence Washington can do little wrong as of late.
"We felt we had tossed the ball quite a bit, and it just fit in," Gibbs said. "He's very accurate."
Portis said earlier in the season Gibbs would not have allowed the team to run that play, and allowing them to do so in a crucial situation yesterday showed how much the team has matured and how much Gibbs's trust in his players has grown.
"Ever since we had a team meeting he told us we are going to put the game on you guys, win or lose," Portis said.
Portis recorded his eighth 100-yard rushing game this season, setting a franchise record, by running for 108 yards on 27 carries. It was the fourth consecutive week he has run for more than 100 yards.
Just don't tell Portis that.
"I can probably throw about 150" yards, Portis said, "up there around Mars or so."