The Redskins' passing offense had struggled in the first half, with Mark Brunell throwing three untimely interceptions in Sunday's game versus the Arizona Cardinals. Clinton Portis wanted to put the offensive on his shoulders and Joe Gibbs obliged, feeding Portis the ball seven times on the Redskins' first offensive drive of the second half.
Portis capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown drive and helped spark the Redskins to a 17-13 win over the Cardinals at Sun Devil Stadium. He finished the game with 105 yards on 26 carries and also caught three passes for 16 yards.
On Portis's 15-yard touchdown run, Portis took a handoff and veered right, following blocks by Mike Sellers. At one point, Portis actually grabbed onto the back of Sellers' shirt as he approached the end zone.
Portis would tiptoe along the sideline, barely staying in bounds, and then shoved the ball across the goal line for the score. The 13-play, 80-yard drive took off 7:40 off the game clock.
It was Portis's eighth touchdown sixth 100-yard rushing game of the season. He now has rushed for 1,184 on 275 carries this season.
Portis said he was ready for the heavy workload in the game.
"From the beginning of the season, I've been [preparing] for this stretch," Portis said. "Whatever is asked of me, I'm ready for it. That's the good thing about being healthy at the end of the season. Last year, I couldn't have taken this challenge. This year, my carries have been up in the last few weeks. If they continue to go up or stay wherever they are at, I'm prepared for that."
Portis was asked to help run out the clock late in the game, with the Redskins holding on to a precarious 17-13 lead.On a 3rd-and-6 play, Portis took the handoff and followed blocks by center Casey Rabach and right guard Randy Thomas. The entire offensive line helped push Portis a few extra yards for the first down.
That push in effect sealed the win. With the Cardinals out of time outs, Brunell kneeled twice to run out the clock.
Right tackle Jon Jansen led an offensive line that was faced with eight men in the box often in the game, especially late in the game. He said that Portis appears to be as comfortable in the offensive system as he's ever been.
"It has to go back to being comfortable in the offense, knowing what we can do up front, and the coaches being comfortable with and knowing what Clinton can do and excel at," Jansen said. "[They've] dialed up those plays. For Clinton, it was hard to come in during the first year of a coaching staff, whether it's a new player or a player who has been in the organization for a while, and have a breakout year. It's a matter of being comfortable in the offense and being fluid in what we do. He's been the benefit of that."
The Redskins know that to win late in the season, they have to be able to run the ball effectively.
Said Thomas: "This stretch, [including] this next game, we have to run the ball. In third-and-six or third-and-seven situations, we might have to pass, but our mindset is running the ball."