LaVar Arrington got to play, Clinton Portis got to dance, and the Washington Redskins got to relax in the closing seconds — finally.
Thanks to five first-half touchdowns by the offense and a five-sack, two-takeaway tour de force by the defense, the Redskins experienced their first stress-free game of the season, a 52-17 victory yesterday over the lowly San Francisco 49ers that was so decisive Portis was cooling down before the third quarter ended and was soon joined by Mark Brunell and Santana Moss.
Installed as 13-point favorites, the Redskins did what good teams are supposed to do against absolutely bad teams: took control early and didn’t let off the throttle until garbage time.
“They were on edge all week,” assistant head coach-offense Joe Bugel said. “You can’t take anybody lightly in this league. Our players bought into that and responded by playing with a real chip on their shoulders.”
The Redskins, Giants and Philadelphia — all 4-2 — are tied for the NFC East lead, a half-game ahead of 4-3 Dallas. The Redskins and Giants meet Sunday in the Meadowlands.
The 52 points were the most for the Redskins since a 56-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons in 1991 and the most by a team in FedEx Field history. The 35-point margin of victory was the largest since a 41-3 win over the Cardinals in 1992.
The win was especially critical because the Redskins’ next three games are against the Giants, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay (5-1).
“This is one of those games where you enjoy going in and watching the film,” right tackle Jon Jansen said. “You sit there and tell your buddies, ‘Watch this coming, look what I did on this one.’”
There were plenty of those moments for the Redskins as they battered a San Francisco (1-5) defense that entered last against the pass and an offense that had a rookie quarterback in Alex Smith.
The offense scored touchdowns five of their six first-half drives, traveling 61, 60, 74, 67 and 19 yards.
The defense was led in tackles by Arrington’s nine stops. Arrington played more than 20 snaps, following two games where he was limited to two special teams snaps.
“It was an overwhelming experience,” he said. “I was just happy to be out there, more than anything else. To be a part of it was a beautiful thing.”
The Redskins overwhelmed San Francisco by using all of their weapons: Portis rushed for 101 yards, Moss had 112 yards receiving and Brunell compiled a 147.9 passer rating (13-for-20 for 252 yards and three touchdowns).
“Everything was clicking today and we got a big win and a win we needed,” Brunell said.
Brunell started things by throwing a 2-yard touchdown pass to Mike Sellers on the opening drive and Portis — on his 110th carry of the season and the offense’s 164th attempt — followed with a 5-yard touchdown.