The Fifth Quarter: Redskins vs. 49ers
By: Mark Solway 
Posted: 2005-10-23
Category: Washington Redskins News
Washington Redskin fans were treated to something rare this week, a 'comfortable' win. Mark Brunell threw three touchdown passes, and Clinton Portis ran for three more to pace the Redskins to a 52-17 drubbing of the San Francisco 49ers. The offense was firing on all cylinders as they pounded out over 450 all-purpose yards, including over 200 on the ground.

Here are the fifth quarter rankings:

Passing:

Mark Brunell continued his progress in making Joe Gibbs' offense work for him. He continues to work well within the system and put on his most impressive display in a Redskin uniform on Sunday. Brunell threw three touchdown passes and looked sharp putting up 252 yards and putting the San Francisco 49ers away early.

Mike Sellers caught two passes on Sunday, both for touchdowns. He now has 4 touchdowns on just five receptions for the season. Sellers also blocked well for the running backs in perhaps what was also his best performance in the burgundy and gold.

Santana Moss continued his great season with another 100-plus yard performance. Thanks to a 43-yard reception, and a 32-yard touchdown reception, it only took Moss five catches to post 112 yards (22.4 YPC). The ability of Moss and Brunell to connect on the long ball is stretching the defense for Clinton Portis as well, which is exactly what Santana was brought in to do.

4 quarters

Rushing

There was a huge cathartic sigh throughout Fed Ex as Clinton Portis ran in for a 5-yard touchdown in the first quarter for his first rushing touchdown of 2005. It was a sign of things to come as Portis would add two more 1-yard touchdown runs. The strong performance came against a ripe, banged up San Francisco defense, but Portis ran hard in his third 100-yard game of the season (19 carries, 101 yards) and the confidence gained from finally reaching the end zone is invaluable.

Ladell Betts returned from injury with a very strong performance. The Redskins continued to spell Portis with Betts as soon as he's winded, and Betts got some extra carries later in the game with the results a foregone conclusion. Betts posted an impressive 92 yards on just 12 carries for a stunning 7.7-yard average.

Rock Cartwright also got some carries late and he also managed to register his first touchdown of the season on a 5-yard run. It was the Redskins seventh touchdown of the day, their fourth on the ground.

The Redskins were able to run with any back because the offensive line dominated the 49ers front four. The fact that it was the 49ers requires that it is looked on with tempered enthusiasm, but it was a dominant performance nevertheless. Their dominance was in fact the driving force in the offense's success as they also gave Brunell a solid pocket to throw from.

5 quarters

Defense

A 72-yard run by the 49ers' Frank Gore late in the game masked another workman-like performance by the Redskins' defense. Perhaps the biggest difference in the performance on Sunday was that Lavar Arrington played an active role in it. With seven tackles, Arrington led the defense and was fired up all day long. He made some big plays and staked a claim that he belongs more time in the line-up. Hopefully the entire Arrington fiasco will benefit both parties as it is clear that while the defense can be better with Lavar in it, Gregg Williams will not compromise his system to suit any one individual.

Williams gave rookie quarterback Alex Smith a performance to lament over with constant pressure and aggressive blitzing. The Redskins' defense sacked Smith five times with Cornelius Griffin registering his third sack of the season, Lemar Marshall his second, and Marcus Washington his first. Washington also jarred the ball loose from Smith on his sack and Philip Daniels recovered the ball at San Francisco's 19-yard line. Brunell immediately hit Sellers with a 19-yard touchdown pass and punished San Francisco for the turnover. Marcus Washington continues to lead this dominant Redskin defense.

The lack of offensive competition and late 72-yard TD run affect their fifth quarter ranking.

3 quarters

Special Teams

How do you rank a unit that had so little to do with a result, despite a decent performance? James Thrash had a good day returning punts posting 50-yards on four attempts. Rock Cartwright got some playing time at kick returner and was solid as well. Both runners were the recipients of good blocking from the special teams unit as a whole.

Nick Novak kicked seven PAT's and a 27-yard field goal but was very average on his kickoffs. Derrick Frost was equally unremarkable on his four punts, but also had an errorless performance.

3 quarters

The win moves the Redskins to 4-2 on the season and gave them an important conference win. The Redskins won't get long to bask in the glory of the victory though as they face a huge division battle next week against the New York Giants.
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