- The Washington Times - Monday, October 10, 2005

DENVER — Clinton Portis ran for 103 yards in his first game in Denver in an opposing jersey, but it wasn’t a happy return for the Washington Redskins running back.

Portis, who was booed by the rain-soaked crowd every time he touched the ball, teamed with quarterback Mark Brunell to lose an early fumble, briefly left the game with a stinger after blocking burly ex-teammate Al Wilson and was upstaged by Tatum Bell, the second-year running back who wears his old No. 26 for the Broncos.

“It was ruined by the rain,” Portis said when his homecoming ended with a 21-19 loss when Mark Brunell’s 2-point conversion pass was tipped away by Denver linebacker Ian Gold with 1:15 left. “I would like to think that every time I go over 100 yards, we win. Unfortunately in reality, it doesn’t happen that way. I had a good personal performance, but the bottom line is that I didn’t reach my main goal of winning the game.”

Portis wasn’t too ruffled watching Bell — drafted with a selection the Broncos obtained from the Redskins along with Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey in the 2004 trade that sent him to Washington — run for 34- and 55-yard touchdowns. Bell finished with 127 yards on 12 carries compared to Portis’ 103 on 20 carries.

“The Broncos knew Bell was a good player or they wouldn’t have drafted him in the second round,” Portis said. “Those touchdowns were the difference in the game. You have to take your hat off to him.”

Portis was equally unperturbed about the fans’ reaction.

“I think it would be hard to cheer for the opposing team no matter what,” Portis said, apparently not aware of numerous former players being cheered in their old stadiums. “The fact that the fans booed me is just part of football.”

Wacky day for Novak

A week after kicking a field goal twice — the second being a game-winner — because of a late timeout call, Redskins rookie Nick Novak nailed a 54-yarder only to have it negated by a false-start penalty on Mike Sellers.

Novak, filling in for the injured John Hall (quadriceps) for the third straight game, also made field goals of 34 and 36 yards and had a 38-yarder blocked by Trevor Pryce, the second block the former Maryland standout has suffered in two weeks.

“I wanted to re-kick,” said Novak, whose longest field goal in college was 54 yards. “I wanted to show I could [kick a 59-yarder].”

Blocked

Redskins linebacker Chris Clemons blocked the first punt of his life with 8:34 left when he came in from the right side untouched and got his hands in front of veteran Broncos punter Todd Sauerbrun.

Novak drew Washington within 21-13 with a 36-yard field goal four plays later.

“It was something we practice every day, having your hands slide off the table,” Clemons said. “It was a great feeling, but I wished I had been able to scoop up the ball and run it in for a touchdown.”

Arrington zeroes out

After playing just five downs in Week2 at Dallas and two more last week against Seattle, three-time Pro Bowl linebacker LaVar Arrington didn’t play when healthy for the first time in his six-year career.

“What I can say?” Arrington said as he left the locker room. “You saw it. I didn’t play. Maybe next, I’ll be inactive.”

Two former Redskins who made a Pro Bowl were inactive for Denver. Bailey, a Pro Bowl pick for the Redskins from 2000 to 2003, was sidelined for a second straight week with a bad left hamstring. Marco Coleman, a Pro Bowl defensive end in 1999, also was in street clothes.

“After testing [his hamstring] out, we saw that Champ couldn’t go full-speed,” Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. “If it would have been perfect out[side], you still don’t know. It was a little tougher in these conditions.”

Helping the hosts

Denver’s victory was a win-win situation for the Broncos, who own the Redskins’ first-round choice in the 2006 draft as part of the April trade allowing Washington to draft quarterback Jason Campbell. Every Redskins loss makes the pick more valuable.

Atwater inducted

For the second consecutive road game, the Redskins were on hand for a home team’s Hall of Fame induction. On Sept.19, the Dallas Cowboys inducted quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and receiver Michael Irvin into their Ring of Honor. The Broncos inducted seven-time Pro Bowl safety Steve Atwater, who played for Denver from 1989 to 1998, into their Ring of Fame at halftime.

Short-handed secondary

Already playing without injured cornerback Walt Harris (calf) for the second straight week, the Redskins’ secondary became even more depleted when Shawn Springs aggravated a shin injury early in the game. Originally injured in practice last week, Springs did not return.

Springs’ injury left the Redskins with two healthy corners — Carlos Rogers and Ade Jimoh. In passing situations, four safeties — Sean Taylor, Ryan Clark, Matt Bowen and Pierson Prioleau — were on the field.

“We got pretty low [on numbers], but the rest of us knew we had to step up to give our team a chance to win,” said Jimoh, who was beaten for a 5-yard touchdown by Ashley Lelie in the second quarter.

The secondary performed admirably, though — Denver quarterback Jake Plummer threw for only 92 yards (10 of 25 passing).

Clark led the Redskins with six tackles and Rogers had four.

Passing fancy

Mark Brunell attempted a career-high 53 passes against the Broncos and assistant head coach-offense Joe Bugel said the Redskins’ game plan changed early, eliminating several run plays because of what Denver was doing defensively.

“Denver’s a blitzkrieg so you have to try and make them pay when they pressure and blitz,” Bugel said. “We threw the ball downfield — we weren’t going to be stupid about that because it’s tough running into a brick wall. We came in with the thought of throwing the ball.”

The Redskins rushed 26 times for 125 yards — 103 by Clinton Portis.

Salave’a, Portis nicked

Although Springs was the only player on the Redskins’ official injury report, several players were nicked. Defensive tackle Joe Salave’a said he injured his thigh in the first half but returned and Portis sustained a stinger in the fourth quarter. He also returned.

Additionally, umpire Garth DeFelice was knocked to the ground by a group of blockers in the second half and hit his head on the turf. He returned to the game moments later.

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