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Homecoming, Tough Going

Redskins Gut Out Victory in Zorn's Return to Seattle

Running back Clinton Portis carries 29 times for 143 yards and the defense finishes strong to preserve a 20-17 victory over the Seahawks at Qwest Field.
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 24, 2008; Page E01

SEATTLE, Nov. 23 -- Curious about the mood of the Washington Redskins as they faced another tense situation, Coach Jim Zorn surveyed the sideline late Sunday afternoon at Qwest Field. Consecutive losses had made things more difficult for them to earn an NFC playoff berth, and the players' demeanor late in their game against the Seattle Seahawks, Zorn thought to himself, would indicate a lot about what they could still accomplish.

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He liked what he saw and apparently knows the group well, as the Redskins ended their losing streak with a 20-17 victory in a homecoming game for Zorn. Place kicker Shaun Suisham made a 22-yard field goal to break a fourth-quarter tie, and the defense made a strong push at the end against the injury-weakened Seahawks in front of 67,771.

"It was the last two losses coming into this that motivated us," said Zorn, who served as Seattle's quarterbacks coach for seven seasons and was the first quarterback of the expansion Seahawks in 1976. "It was also the commitment that our team has to continue to go. We were not in a crisis situation where we had to change a lot.

"Our players played hard in the last two weeks, and they played hard again today. There really has been no letdown of effort."

After the Seahawks recovered Ladell Betts's fumble deep in their end of the field with the Redskins trying to run out the clock in the final two minutes, cornerback Shawn Springs, who sat out the last four games because of a calf injury, intercepted quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's pass on Seattle's first play from scrimmage.

"Just a very, very costly mistake," Hasselbeck said. "Huge mistake. I made a poor decision. It ended the game, really."

Quarterback Jason Campbell kneeled twice to run out the clock and help Washington (7-4) get back on track. "When they put me in, they expect me to make plays," Springs said. "That's my role. I was just trying to shake off a little rust and I was happy to help the team win."

Said Betts: "That was huge. It saved me from having an even longer flight back home."

The Redskins gave Zorn a victory in his first game back in these parts since he joined Washington in January. The emotion of his return to Seattle, however, was not what Zorn focused on afterward.

Washington is in a crowded pack to attain its goal of a playoff berth, and the players showed him something important down the stretch Sunday. "Today felt like one of those early games, one of those first six games of the year," said Campbell, who completed 20 of 33 passes for 206 yards and one touchdown.

"I can't say enough about this effort. All the guys in there today really competed and gave it their all."

Washington needed everything it could summon to hold off the Seahawks (2-9), who have struggled, in large part, because of major injuries to key players. The Redskins had 386 total net yards to 228 for Seattle, a 24-13 edge in first downs and almost a 17-minute advantage in time of possession.

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