- The Washington Times - Monday, October 18, 2004

CHICAGO — Clinton Portis had nowhere to run, so he decided to hide. From the local media, that is.

Portis rushed for at least 1,500 yards in back-to-back seasons for the Denver Broncos, but five games into his first season with the Redskins he looked like nothing special.

And that was embarrassing.

So before yesterday’s game against the Bears in Chicago, Portis told linemen Chris Samuels and Randy Thomas that it was about time to go out and have fun.

Portis did just that. Portis rushed for 171 yards on 36 carries, leading the Redskins to a 13-10 victory that snapped a four-game losing streak.

“Against Baltimore and Cleveland, our running game wasn’t effective. … We took it personally,” said Portis, who averaged 2.5 yards a carry in those losses. “I’ve been telling the O-line all week, ‘Just give me that crease, give me that crack … and I promise I’m going to follow you.’ They went out and played great.”

So did Portis, who ran for more yards (62) by the end of the first quarter than he produced in either of the past two games. By halftime, Portis had 103 yards on 21 carries, with four of those runs going for at least 12 yards. He added runs of 17 and 22 yards in the second half.

By game’s end, Portis had the third-highest yardage total and the second-highest number of carries of his career.

“Clinton was fired up today because he knew he was going to have a great game,” Samuels said.

Portis was more impressive yesterday than he was in the Redskins’ season-opening victory over Tampa Bay in which scored a 64-yard touchdown on his first carry for the club.

Yesterday, Portis carried the ball and the entire offense.

“Clinton pretty much looks you in the face and says put it on my shoulders,” Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. “Today, we certainly did that. He made some real big plays.”

Portis did so running behind a Pro Bowl left tackle, Samuels, who had missed two days of practice because of a sprained right ankle, and a 41-year-old right tackle, Ray Brown, who has a tender hamstring.

The line blocked well and got an assist from a reworked game plan that spread the field with three-receiver sets, leaving one less defender in the box to take on Portis.

Still, 36 carries is a huge workload.

“It was easier today because I only had to make one man miss instead of two and three,” Portis said. “One time I told [Gibbs], ‘Do you see my tongue hanging out?’ He said, ‘No.’ I told him, ‘Run me until my tongue hangs out.’”

Blocking tight end Walter Rasby said the Redskins’ strategy didn’t vary much from the previous two games, it just was executed better. Samuels said it was only a matter of time before Portis got it going. And Portis perhaps answered questions about whether a quick, cutback runner can fit into Gibbs’ power-based scheme.

“Nobody was in the system last year so you’re going to go through your growing pains,” Portis said. “Hopefully we’re done with them. Any time you get the system like we got it going today, who can’t fit it?”

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