Uncorked running game gets Redskins to hard-to-figure 5-3 Print
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Monday, 05 November 2007 13:47
NFL Headline News

 ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -Joe Gibbs wanted physical, run-first football, and he got it.
The Washington Redskins ran the ball 48 times and passed it only 23. Clinton Portis' 36 carries were an NFL single-game high this season. The team's 296 yards rushing were the most by the franchise in 20 years.
Yet the effort was barely enough to beat the New York Jets, who have a bad run defense and have lost six in a row.
The coach called Sunday's 23-20 overtime victory ``more the look of what I envision Redskins football being,'' but it's a blueprint that will be hard to successfully duplicate in the games to come.
``If they're back, you've got to be able to run. If they're up, you've got to be able to throw,'' Gibbs said. ``That's kind of where we are. That's why we talk about the balance we like to have. You've got to be able to run. You've got to be able to pass.''
The Redskins picked the perfect opponent to re-establish the ground game and reset team morale following a 52-7 loss at New England the week before.
Even when the Jets took a 17-3 first-half lead, the ball kept going to Portis and Ladell Betts because New York couldn't stop them. Portis, who had looked like a shadow of his old self in recent weeks, ended a career-high 12-game streak without a 100-yard performance by running for 196.
``I always believed I could do it,'' said Portis, who focused on keeping his balance and holding the ball in the correct hand after studying film of himself last week. ``It's the outside world who always doubted. I think the coaches here believe in me. I think my teammates believe in me. To go out and have the opportunity, and to have the success when I have the opportunity, it feels good. At the same time, we know we've got to keep it going.''
Keeping it going was the theme at Redskins Park on Monday. How that will be accomplished has yet to be determined.
At the midpoint of the season, the Redskins are a 5-3 team that's hard to figure out. Their losses are to teams whose combined record is 22-3, and they came close to beating two of those. They have a better record than two NFC division leaders (Tampa Bay and Seattle) and have already matched last year's win total.
On the other hand, the Redskins also needed overtime to beat the two worst teams in the AFC, the Jets and Miami (combined 1-16) and would have lost if a late field goal attempt by Arizona had not strayed wide left.
The offense still doesn't have a touchdown pass to a wide receiver, and the defense allowed a Jets quarterback making his second NFL start to execute four long drives, plus a late march that tied the game in the final seconds of regulation.
Furthermore, the Redskins remain in third place in their own division, trailing Dallas (7-1) and the New York Giants (6-2), and surely wouldn't be such a prominent player in the playoff mix if the NFC as a whole weren't so mediocre.
``I feel like we should be 7-1,'' receiver Antwaan Randle El said. ``That said, 5-3, we'll take it at this point. ... The NFC East is still wide open. Dallas is trying to run away with it, but we still play them twice, and they've got a couple of rough games coming up.''
For the Redskins to return to the playoffs, they'll need a develop a stronger passing game to complement the recommitment to the run. If Jason Campbell isn't hitting receivers downfield, defenses better than the Jets' will crowd the line of scrimmage and send Portis and Betts' rushing averages plummeting once again.
``We'd love to run the ball,'' said Betts, who had 64 yards against the Jets on only nine carries. ``But realistically that's not going to happen every game, where you can just turn around and hand it off every single play.
``Would we love to do it? Yes, but we're not going to be able to do that.''
Notes: Gibbs said he will have a sit-down with Brandon Lloyd, who did not make the trip to New York as punishment for missing a team meeting last week. The high-priced receiver, who lost his starting job last season after a helmet-throwing tantrum, has only two catches and is a prime candidate to be cut at season's end. ``Brandon and I will talk things over, and we'll go back to work on Wednesday,'' Gibbs said. ``Going forward, I'm hoping that'll never happen again and Brandon will become productive for us.'' ... CB Fred Smoot re-aggravated his hamstring injury in the fourth quarter but stayed in the game. ``It's one of those recurring things,'' Smoot said. ``It's very frustrating.'' ... WR Santana Moss could be limited in practice with a bruised heel. DT Cornelius Griffin, who played sparingly after having back spasms during warmup, is expected to recover in time for next week's game. ... S LaRon Landry was fined one game check - $16,764 - for a helmet-to-helmet rushing-the-passer hit on Jets quarterback Kellen Clemens. Landry was fined $7,500 earlier this season for two unnecessary roughness fouls in the Oct. 21 game against Arizona.
 

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