It took Clinton Portis one touch of the ball to show Redskin fans what he could bring to the team, and it took Gregg Williams just one game to show what an impact that he is going to have on the quality of the Redskins' defense. All en route to a hard-fought 16-10 victory over a tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers team.
What can you say about a game that saw Portis run for 149 yards on 29 carries, including the first 50+ yard run by a Redskin in 60 games? Awesome. Portis' first run from scrimmage was a 64-yard scamper in which he cut back against the flow of the play, and broke away for a touchdown. Not even the DBs could catch him. Yards were a little tougher to come by after that, as the Bucs defense clamped down. But when the offense needed the yards most, to close out the fourth quarter, they were there yet again.
Ladell Betts also had a few nice runs spelling for Portis and posted 17 good yards on 5 attempts.
Sunday saw the regular season debut of Mark Brunell in a Redskins' uniform. While the lefty wasn't spectacular, he was effective, going 13 of 24 for 125 yards. He under-threw his receiver a couple of times, but for the most part he was sharp. Perhaps most importantly, he didn't make many mistakes. Rod Gardner looked like his regular 50/50 self when he dropped the first pass thrown to him, but went on to have one of his better receiving days in Washington, collecting 4 passes for 61 yards. Laveranues Coles was quiet grabbing just 3 passes for 27 yards, but would have had more had Brunell not under-thrown him twice. The passing game was not as effective as the running game... but Redskin fans better get used to that... it's the 'Gibbs way'.
What do you say about a unit that has improved so much in so little time? This game was won by the defense. Aggressive, intense, and game-planned... the defensive unit of the Redskins even outplayed the mighty Bucs defense on Sunday. Williams was marvelous in his debut and showed why he is so well respected around the league. Matt Bowen looked like an all pro in his first start at his natural free safety position. Hopefully now fans will stop talking about the stupid incident at Training Camp in 2003 between Bowo and now departed Trung Canidate. Bowen registered 8 tackles, and also had two sacks on corner blitzes. One of the sacks popped the ball out of Brad Johnson's hands and put points on the board for Washington, as they were able to turn it into a field goal. Lavar Arrington also had an excellent game with 6 tackles and a sack. Other honorable mentions go to Renaldo Wynn who pressured more from the LDE spot than he ever has, and to Cornelius Griffin who was solid in the middle. This defense was 'questionable' going into the season due to the 'lack of' defensive line, but they answered the call Sunday, and they answered it well.
The special teams unit was the only unit that seemed to struggle Sunday, as kickoffs from John Hall were poor and the coverage on those kickoffs was also suspect. In fact, the only reason Tampa Bay was even allowed to stay in the game was because of a long kick return in the 2nd quarter by J. Murphy. Murphy's return put the Bucs on the Redskin 34-yard line and set up a field goal that allowed Tampa to narrow the gap to 10-3 and get back in the game.
Tom Tupa was not a problem on special teams. Tupa had a great day punting, with 7 punts for 347 yards and a stunning 49.6-yard average. He also pinned Tampa Bay inside the 20-yard line twice. Special Teams coach Danny Smith will undoubtedly be happy with punt coverage, but it's likely that there will be a lot of kick return drills this week at practice.