- The Washington Times - Monday, October 10, 2005

DENVER — This had to seem like a nightmare for Clinton Portis.

Or at least an out-of-body experience.

Looking across the field yesterday in Denver, the Redskins running back could see a Broncos playmaker wearing No.26 breaking free for long touchdowns. It seemed so familiar.

Except it wasn’t Portis making the plays for Denver. It was Tatum Bell, a running back acquired by the Broncos with a second-round draft pick the Redskins traded along with cornerback Champ Bailey before last season to get Portis.

Bell busted free for two long touchdown runs as the Broncos sloshed their way to a 21-19 victory. He has become the home run hitter the Broncos used to have with Portis, who piled up more than 1,500 yards in each of his two seasons in Denver.

Denver’s second-year player from Oklahoma State twice established career-long runs during the game. His first carry went for a 34-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He eclipsed that with a 55-yard jaunt in the third quarter. The first touchdown came on a fourth-and-inches play and was set up by a Portis fumble in the rainy, cold conditions.

“We got off to a good start running the ball,” Bell said. “As a running back, you want the ball in conditions like that.”

Bell finished with 127 yards on just 12 carries, a 10.6 average. He plays second fiddle to starter Mike Anderson but Broncos coach Mike Shanahan always promises to keep feeding the ball to the hot hand. Yesterday, it was Bell.

“I just have to be patient and wait my turn,” Bell said. “My coaches have been on me a lot about … not taking it the distance.”

There were no such worries against the Redskins.

“It’s nice, he really stepped up,” Shanahan said. “We knew he had that type of ability, but he’s been kind of hampered by injuries, and he hasn’t been able to … play in a full-time role.”

Bell has been slowed by leg and wrist injuries in the past — as well as having fumbling problems — but amid all the pomp concerning Portis’ return to Denver a Broncos backup emerged as the star of the day.

“The coaches know what I can do,” Bell said. “I just have to keep pushing Mike [Anderson] and wait on my chance. I just have to keep working. I don’t want to be a one-game wonder.”

Not outfoxed — Broncos rookie cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who got the start in place of an injured Bailey, recorded a splendid pass breakup on a deep post route to Santana Moss in the third quarter that seemed destined to give the Redskins the lead. The Broncos led 14-10 at the time when Mark Brunell fired a pass from the 28-yard line in Moss’ direction. Foxworth, a third-round pick out of Maryland and former high school star in Catonsville, Md., reached across with perfect timing to bat the pass way.

“They told me today I was going to be starting,” said Foxworth, who started opposite another rookie cornerback, Darrent Williams. “We’re by no means Champ Baileys. I think we do well considering that we’re rookies.”

Foxworth also stripped a pass out of the hands of H-back Chris Cooley and had seven tackles.

“It was another great game by Foxworth. I’m really pleased with the level at which he’s playing,” Shanahan said.

Tuck it away — Shanahan challenged a fumble by quarterback Jake Plummer that was recovered by Plummer, who then was sacked in the end zone for an apparent safety to bring the Redskins to within 14-12. After reviewing the play, the officials it was in fact an incomplete pass. The ruling changed the momentum of the game

“That’s the old tuck rule,” said Shanahan, referring to the now famous Tom Brady “fumble” against the Oakland Raiders from the playoffs at the end of the 2001 season. “I don’t think the official had a very good angle on it, but you could see it on the replay right away.”

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