Redskins vs. Bucs: Ryan Torain's 'hard work pays off'

Two missed field goals and a botched snap on an extra point in the final seconds ruin the Redskins on a cold, wet day at FedEx Field.
By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 12, 2010; 9:46 PM

The most predictable thing Ryan Torain did on Sunday certainly wasn't his 54-yard jaunt when he touched a football in a game for the first time in six weeks. It definitely wasn't the fact that he finished with 24 carries and 172 yards, both highs for the Washington Redskins this year. It was, rather, the way he handled such a performance.

"Hard work pays off," Torain said, standing behind a podium, staring at a bank of television cameras. "Just got to stay focused, keep working, stay with the coaches, stay with the teammates, and be positive."

It was, with some minor tweaks, roughly the answer Torain gives to just about any question on any issue, be it after a disheartening 17-16 loss to Tampa Bay - Sunday's circumstances - or following a mid-week practice. Where Torain is concerned, it is best to let others explain.

"We finally got the ATV out of the garage," said wide receiver Anthony Armstrong. "We got him some new shocks and tires."

"He was awesome," center Casey Rabach said.

"Definitely, he was frustrated and ready to get out there," said fellow running back Keiland Williams. "You saw the results of that."

Torain enjoyed the clear highlight of his on-again, off-again professional career Sunday. Originally selected by Denver in the fifth round of the 2008 draft - when current Redskins coach Mike Shanahan still ran the Broncos - Torain played in two games as a rookie before suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Denver cut him in August of 2009, and he spent that season recovering.

Signed by the Redskins in April, Torain failed to make the team out of training camp, was signed to the practice squad and then then filled in for starter Clinton Portis when Portis suffered a groin injury Oct. 3 in Philadelphia. He had a 100-yard game in Week 6 against Indianapolis, a 125-yard game in Week 7 against Chicago. But the next week in Detroit, on the last play of the first half, he strained his hamstring. He was supposed to play Nov. 15 against Philadelphia, but he aggravated the injury in pregame warm-ups.

So he sat, and he stewed.

"You're sitting out week-in, week-out," Williams said. "You want to be out there helping your team."

But until Sunday, he sat. When he returned, the Redskins rode him. His first carry, the 54-yarder off left tackle, came on Washington's first play from scrimmage, and with one run, Torain surpassed the Redskins' complete-game rushing totals against Green Bay, Minnesota and Houston. By the end of the first quarter, he had 10 carries for 121 yards, a total the Redskins had exceeded in only two games all year. He opened the Redskins' second possession by ripping off runs of 12, 23 and 10 yards.

"That definitely strokes your ego a little bit, no doubt," Rabach said.

By halftime, Torain had 18 carries for 158 yards - an 8.8-yard average. After that? Six carries. The Redskins' first two plays out of halftime were runs to Torain that went for 1 and no yards. Quarterback Donovan McNabb took over from there.

"Unfortunately, with a couple of three-and-outs at the start of the second half," Shanahan said, "all of a sudden, before you know it, it's in the fourth quarter and we're just kind of looking for a first down to get some momentum going."

Torain now hopes to have it in what remains of his season and his career.

"You know as an offensive line that if you get him to a situation where there may be an arm tackle, he's going to run through that," Rabach said. "He's not going to try to run around a DB. He's going to run through the DB."

And how, pray tell, will he handle that?

"Just got to stay positive," Torain said, "and keep working."

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