|10-08-2005, 10:12 AM||#2|
Draft Defense Early&Often
Join Date: Oct 2004
Denver vs. Washington
SoCals link: http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/gamece...051009_WAS@DEN
GAME: Washington Redskins (3-0) at Denver Broncos (3-1).
TIME: Sunday, 4:15 p.m. EDT.
Clinton Portis helped Denver get off to good starts in his two seasons with the Broncos. This year, he's playing a role in the Washington Redskins' best start in 14 years.
Portis returns to Denver for the first time since the Broncos traded him to the Redskins when these teams meet at Invesco Field.
The fourth-year running back spent his first two seasons with the Broncos and rushed for more than 1,500 yards in each. With Portis carrying the ball, Denver opened 2002 with a 3-0 mark and started 4-0 in 2003.
But his unhappiness with the team's failure to give him a long-term deal led to a trade that brought Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey to the Broncos.
As part of the deal, Portis agreed to an eight-year, $50.5 million contract with the Redskins while Bailey inked a seven-year, $63 million deal with the Broncos.
Portis' numbers dropped slightly in his first season in Washington - he still amassed 1,315 rushing yards to go with five touchdowns - and he has 263 rushing yards in three games this year. However, he's still looking to score his first touchdown of the season.
In Bailey's first year with the Broncos, he finished with 68 tackles - his highest total since 1999 - and three interceptions.
The two may not get a chance to meet on the field with Bailey's status uncertain after his streak of consecutive games played ended at 99 when he sat out Denver's 20-7 win over Jacksonville last Sunday with a strained hamstring.
However, Portis will be much more concerned with a Broncos run defense that limited Jacksonville to a franchise-low 12 yards on the ground and is fourth-best in the NFL with 79 rushing yards allowed per game.
"Going into Denver, its going to be a tough place to play," said Portis, who rushed for 90 yards in Washington's 20-17 overtime win over Seattle last Sunday. "But we've got to go out there and play our hardest. This is a roadblock, a speed bump in our road. We've got to overcome it and find a way to win."
Washington's 3-0 start, the team's first since it opened 11-0 en route to a Super Bowl win in 1991, hasn't come easy with victories by two, one and three points.
The Redskins needed a 14-point, fourth-quarter comeback to beat Dallas on Sept. 19 and nearly lost this past weekend, but Seattle kicker Josh Brown missed a 47-yard field goal at the end of regulation. They won when Nick Novak, who had never attempted an NFL field goal, hit a 39-yarder in overtime.
"The emotions are just going crazy around here," linebacker Marcus Washington said. "We get into those ugly, Rocky Balboa-type fights. We just keep banging, scratching and find a way to just pull this thing out. It's not always pretty, but a win is a win."
Mark Brunell, another of the Redskins' additions prior to 2004, finished 20-of-36 with 226 yards and two touchdowns. Santana Moss caught six passes for 87 yards.
The Broncos haven't missed Portis too badly since his departure. Last season, Reuben Droughns - now with Cleveland - rushed for 1,240 yards. Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell have formed a strong tandem this year to help Denver gain an early lead in the AFC West.
While Anderson and Bell combined for 175 yards rushing against the Jags, Jake Plummer was 19-for-26 for 136 yards and threw two short touchdown passes to reserve offensive tackle Dwayne Carswell.
Anderson and Bell also come up against a formidable run defense that is fifth-best in the league with 83.3 yards allowed per game. Washington hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in eight straight contests, the longest current streak in the NFL.
STANDINGS: Redskins - 1st place, NFC East. Broncos - 1st place, AFC West.
REDSKINS LEADERS: Offense - Brunell, 587 passing yards and 4 passing TDs; Portis, 263 rushing yards; Moss, 15 receptions, 342 receiving yards and 2 receiving TDs. Defense - Demetric Evans, Cornelius Griffin and Lemar Marshall, 1 sack; Marshall, 1 INT.
BRONCOS LEADERS: Offense - Plummer, 787 passing yards and 4 passing TDs; Anderson, 267 rushing yards; Anderson, Kyle Johnson and Plummer, 1 rushing TD; Rod Smith, 26 receptions and 286 receiving yards; Carswell, 2 receiving TDs. Defense - Gerard Warren, 2 sacks; Bailey, 2 INTs.
REDSKINS TEAM RANK: Rushing Offense - 136.3 yards per game (6th in NFL); Passing Offense - 204 ypg (T-20th); Total Offense - 340.3 ypg (14th). Rushing Defense - 83.3 ypg (5th); Passing Defense - 207.0 ypg (16th); Total Defense - 290.3 ypg (5th).
BRONCOS TEAM RANK: Rushing Offense - 144.3 yards per game (3rd); Passing Offense - 182.5 ypg (25th); Total Offense - 326.8 ypg (19th). Rushing Defense - 79.0 ypg (4th); Passing Defense - 212.3 ypg (18th); Total Defense - 291.3 ypg (6th).
LAST MEETING: Nov. 18, 2001; Redskins, 17-10. At Denver, backup quarterback Kent Graham threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to help Washington erase a 10-point deficit.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Redskins - RB Portis earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors with Denver in 2002. ... Washington's defense has allowed an NFC-low 37 points despite forcing just two turnovers this season. ... Fourteen of WR Moss' 15 receptions have resulted in first downs. He's tied for first in the NFL with 10 catches on third down. Broncos - CB Bailey was named to the Pro Bowl in four of his five seasons with the Redskins. ... Denver has recorded 15 sacks in four games against Brunell ... The Broncos are 16-4 at home against NFC opponents under coach Mike Shanahan.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Redskins - 1-0 on the road; Broncos - 2-0 at home.
INJURIES: Redskins - DOUBTFUL: K John Hall (right quadricep); CB Walt Harris (calf). PROBABLE: RB Ladell Betts (groin); LB Chris Clemons (knee); T Jon Jansen (thumb); S Pierson Prioleau (hamstring); CB Shawn Springs (shin); S Sean Taylor (shoulder). Broncos - QUESTIONABLE: CB Roc Alexander (hamstring); CB Bailey (hamstring); LB Patrick Chukwurah (thigh); LB Louis Green (hamstring). PROBABLE: WR Charlie Adams (knee); TE Stephen Alexander (thigh); RB Bell (flu); S Nick Ferguson (knee); TE Nate Jackson (hamstring); CB Darrent Williams (ankle).
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