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Portis Leads Physical Rushing Attack vs. Jets


The Redskins' ground game finally got back on track in Sunday's 23-20 overtime win over the New York Jets.

Clinton Portis backed up his statement last week that he wanted to "put the team on his shoulders."

He rushed for 196 yards on 36 carries, the fifth-best rushing performance in franchise history.

"I'm ready to carry this team," he said after Sunday's overtime game. "I've been telling coach to put it on me and if I can't do it, then I understand. Just give me the opportunity and If I can go do it, I'll do it.

"It's hard to carry a team when you don't feel like you've had the opportunity, or feel like you're in a groove."

Portis had entered the Jets game with 433 rushing yards on 115 carries, a 3.8 yards-per-carry average.

He got off to a strong start against the Jets, rushing for 15 yards on his first two carries.

Later in the first half, Portis had runs of 15 and 18 yards to help set up field goals. He went over the 100-yard mark early in the second half.

Portis logged his best run of the game on the Redskins' touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. He broke loose for a 32-yard gain to the Jets' 23-yard line.

Then Portis finished off the drive with a 1-yard dive into the end zone. He followed a block by Mike Sellers for the score.

The score gave the Redskins their first lead of the game.

In overtime, the Redskins turned to Portis again. He responded.

On the game-winning drive, Portis had runs of 10 and 17 yards, bursting through blocks and chugging through the Jets defense to set up Suisham's 46-yard field goal.

Said head coach Joe Gibbs: "I can tell you this, during the week, he kind of 'set his jaw' and kind of said, 'Give it to me.' We certainly did [Sunday]."

In all, the Redskins pounded out 296 rushing yards in the game, with a lofty 6.2 yards-per-carry average.

It was Portis's first 100-yard effort in 13 games. His last 100-yard game was Oct. 1 2006, when the Redskins defeated Jacksonville 36-30 at FedExField.

Entering Sunday, the Jets had the NFL's 27th-ranked run defense, yielding an average of 134.2 rushing yards per game. The group was without linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who is sidelined for the season with a knee injury.

So it figured that the game plan called for an emphasis on the run.

"We want to get the running game going and we know it is going to play a vital role in our season down the stretch," Portis said. "There's nothing you can really point to. You have to contribute. For us, it's an attitude, a mentality."

The Redskins opened the 2007 season with 191 rushing yards against Miami and 130 rushing yards at Philadelphia. Since then, the ground game has been inconsistent. Part of the problem: injuries along the offensive line.

Last week Portis said the offense had re-committed itself to a more physical approach.

He maintained confidence that a 100-yard rushing game was on the horizon.

And he expects to surpass the 1,000-yard mark this season. He has 629 rushing yards through eight games.

"I know I'm not going to stay down," he said. "It doesn't matter if our other three linemen get hurt. For myself personally, I will find a way to get 1,000 yards. I'll find a way to do whatever it is going to take to help this team."

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