- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2008

Clinton Portis wasn’t happy with how he got started Sunday at steamy FedEx Field. The Washington Redskins running back picked up just 5 yards on his four carries on the first series.

But Portis figured out what was going wrong.

The veteran back adjusted where he was lining up, and it started clicking. He finished with 96 yards and two touchdowns to help rally the Redskins to their 29-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

“Early on, I was too far into the line,” Portis said. “I wasn’t confident. I was missing reads, and I came right to the sideline and told Coach [Jim Zorn] that it was on me. Once I got back to the depth that I was supposed to be, things started to open up, and I was able to see. The lanes started to open up.”

The Redskins trailed 17-9 late in the third quarter and faced second-and-goal at the 9 when Portis ran left and followed massive fullback Mike Sellers into the end zone.

“It was on [to the left side] today,” Portis said. “It was just backside, and [offensive tackle] Chris [Samuels] and [guard] Pete [Kendall] was coming up to the backers, and Mike Sellers, you can tell when he’s really into the game. I was like, ‘I might as well hold on to him because they got to run through him to get to me.’”

Then, early in the fourth quarter, Kendall and center Casey Rabach opened a big hole on second-and-6 at the New Orleans 8, and Portis ran through it to pull the Redskins within 24-22.

Tough day on teams

Special teams coach Danny Smith couldn’t really enjoy Washington’s victory because two prominent members of his units had game-changing miscues.

Antwaan Randle El fumbled a punt return to set up New Orleans’ first touchdown. Later, rookie punter Durant Brooks bobbled a snap as holder, causing Shaun Suisham to miss a chip-shot field goal. Brooks topped that with a line-drive punt to Reggie Bush, who returned it 55 yards for the touchdown that gave the Saints a nine-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“Reggie made a great play, but he’s a great player,” Smith said. “Everything else was on us. Durant said the snap caught him by surprise, but he’s the one calling for the ball. That was terrible.

“We didn’t punt the ball worth a damn. I’m not worried about [Brooks’] spirits. I’m worried about my spirits right now. We’ve got a lot of work to do. He’s got to prove that he can punt in this league. … Antwaan has to put the ball away. We have to hold ourselves accountable. We made mistakes.”

Smith wouldn’t rule out making a change on punt returns, a role in which Randle El has struggled throughout his three years in Washington. Fellow receiver Santana Moss starred as a punt returner for the New York Jets.

Doughty sits with illness

Zorn got word when he got to the stadium Sunday morning that starting safety Reed Doughty had contracted stomach flu and wouldn’t play.

Story Continues →