Last offseason, the Redskins revamped their passing attack. Their old standby--the ground game--stayed intact.
On Saturday night at FedExField, the Redskins' familiar rushing offense was dominant in a 17-14 preseason win over the Buffalo Bills.
Redskins running backs collected 155 yards on 31 carries, for a 5.0-yard rushing average, in the victory.
Clinton Portis scored on a 1-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter and Ladell Betts pulled in a screen pass and raced 12 yards for another first-half score.
Shaun Suisham's 46-yard field goal in the third quarter proved to be the margin of difference as Washington improved its preseason record to 2-0.
The Redskins' starters played most of the first quarter and then gave way to backups and young players.
For the second week in a row, Jason Campbell turned in a solid performance. He completed 7-of-10 passes for 71 yards and left the game with the Redskins leading 7-3.
In his first action of preseason, Portis rushed for 18 yards, including his touchdown, on seven carries.
Betts came in for Portis in the second quarter and was impressive, rushing for 41 yards on five carries and grabbing three passes for 41 yards, including his touchdown.
Randy Thomas had the key block on Portis's touchdown run, while Jason Fabini took out two Bills tacklers on Betts' touchdown.
"Clinton and Ladell were both very tough out there," Zorn said. "They got some real good work in. I'm real happy with how they ran the ball. They were very physical and they made some big plays for us."
On the game's opening kickoff, Marcus Mason was crunched by two Bills tacklers and the ball popped loose from his grasp. Kicker Rian Lindell was there to recover the fumble at the Redskins' 30-yard line.
The Redskins' defense stepped up in the red zone, though, as Shawn Springs broke up a third-down pass in the end zone. Lindell came on to convert a 26-yard field goal to give the Bills an early lead.
Midway through the first quarter, the Redskins took possession at their 47-yard line.
Campbell converted two third down passes, one to Antwaan Randle El for 19 yards and another to James Thrash for 10 yards, to move the offense into scoring range.
At Buffalo's 4-yard line, Campbell handed off to Clinton Portis three times, all to the left side of the line. He was stopped each time at the 1-yard line.
The Redskins called time out, and after discussion, decided to go for the score on fourth down.
The result: Portis followed a block by Thomas and dove into the end zone for the touchdown.
"That was big because it was something that we really wanted to do," Campbell said. "It was great for Coach [Jim] Zorn to go for that. It shows how much he trusts us to be able to get that [touchdown]."
The Redskins' offense stayed aggressive in the second quarter, with Todd Collins taking over at quarterback.
On a key 3rd-and-7 play, Collins completed a 13-yard pass to Billy McMullen to Buffalo's 49-yard line. Then Collins tossed a 10-yard pass to Todd Yoder to move the offense further into Bills territory.
Betts charged into Buffalo's defense and picked up 20 yards on two carries to get the ball to the Bills' 12-yard line.
On the next play, Collins dropped back and threw a screen pass to Betts, who had Casey Rabach and Jason Fabini out in front of him as blockers.
Fabini took out two tacklers, enabling Betts to break free down the right sideline for the touchdown.
"We did a good job [on the drive]," Collins said. "Billy McMullen made a good catch, which got us in a good rhythm. The running game worked well and we did a good job by finishing the drive."
After Lindell kicked a 25-yard field goal, the Bills got the ball back late in the first half when cornerback Ashton Youbouty intercepted a Collins pass and returned it to the Redskins' 20-yard line.
One play later, quarterback J.P. Losman threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver James Hardy. Leigh Torrence had solid coverage, but Losman's pass was out in front of Hardy where Torrence could not bat it away.
On a 2-point conversion attempt, Losman connected with wide receiver Justin Jenkins in the right corner of the end zone.
At halftime, the game was tied at 14-14.
Collins was done for the game at that point. He posted 8-of-11 completions for 77 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
Just as the Redskins began the game with a turnover on the opening kickoff, Buffalo began the second half with a turnover as well.
Justin Hamilton poked the ball loose from the grasp of running back Dwayne Wright, and Alfred Fincher was there to pounce on the fumble at the Bills' 37-yard line.
Colt Brennan came in to lead the offense starting at the Bills' 37-yard line.
On 3rd-and-7, he tossed a short pass to McMullen who was stopped a yard short of the first down.
Suisham's 46-yard field goal sailed through the uprights to give the Redskins a 17-14 lead.
Early in the fourth quarter, Buffalo had a chance to tie the game, but Lindell's 47-yard attempt was wide left.
The Redskins were able to blitz into the backfield and it appeared a defender may have distracted Lindell on his attempt.
Later in the fourth quarter, the Bills lost another scoring opportunity when running back Xavier Omon fumbled at the Redskins' 11-yard line.
Ryan Boschetti forced the fumble that was recovered by Rian Wallace.
The Redskins responded with a long, time-consuming drive highlighted by strong running by Mason.
Mason picked up 49 rushing yards on five carries to move the ball to the Bills' 26-yard line. Then Nehemiah Broughton gave Mason a breather and gained eight more yards.
The Redskins had a 1st-and-goal at the Bills' 4-yard line, but three runs by Mason could not get the offense into the end zone.
On fourth down, with just 27 seconds left in the game, Devine passed to Broughton in the end zone, but his throw was off target and incomplete.
The Redskins could not convert the scoring opportunity, but they had chewed up nearly 10 minutes of game clock.
Buffalo had 25 seconds left. Too little time for the Bills' backups to mount a comeback.
The Redskins continue their preseason schedule on Saturday, Aug. 9 when they host the Buffalo Bills at FedExField. Kickoff is 7 p.m. ET.
It is the Redskins' first home preseason game of the 2008 season.
FedExField is a natural grass surface. The stadium seats 91,704.
The game will be televised locally on Comcast SportsNet and WUSA-TV Channel 9. Mike Patrick will call the play-by-play, with color commentary by Joe Theismann. Kelli Johnson serves as sideline reporter.
On radio, the game will be broadcast on ESPN 980. Larry Michael handles the play-by-play with color commentary by Hall of Famers Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff. Rick "Doc" Walker will serve as sideline reporter.
Washington is coming off a 30-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 3.
The Redskins benefited from near-flawless quarterback play, with Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, Colt Brennan and Derek Devine combining for 19-of-22 passing for 216 yards and three touchdowns.
The win put an exclamation point on a weekend highlighted by the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinements of Darrell Green and Art Monk.
The Bills are playing their first preseason game of 2008.
REDSKINS-BILLS SERIES HISTORY
Washington and Buffalo have met 11 times in preseason play, with the Redskins holding a 6-5 edge. The last time the Redskins and Bills met in preseason was in 1999 at FedExField. (The Redskins won 20-19.)
In the regular season and postseason, the Redskins and Bills have met 11 times, with Buffalo holding the overall advantage 7-4.
The Bills have won the last five meetings since falling to Washington 37-24 in Super Bowl XXVI.
In that game, Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien threw touchdown passes to Earnest Byner and Gary Clark and Gerald Riggs rushed for two touchdowns. The Redskins' defense dominated, limiting Thurman Thomas to just 13 yards on 10 carries and sacking Jim Kelly five times.
The last time the two teams played was at FedExField on Dec. 2, 2007.
The Bills won 17-16 in an emotional game that occurred five days after the death of safety Sean Taylor. Rian Lindell connected on a last-second 36-yard field goal to give the Bills the win.
NEWS & NOTES: REDSKINS-BILLS
-- Jason Taylor With the Redskins
Defensive end Jason Taylor will make his FedExField debut against a familiar foe. Taylor, who did not play in last Sunday's preseason game against Indianapolis, competed against the Bills twice a year with the Miami Dolphins in the AFC East.
Taylor has 17 career sacks against Buffalo. He has sacked current Bills quarterback J.P. Losman twice.
The Redskins traded with the Dolphins to acquire the six-time Pro Bowler on July 20.
Taylor and Andre Carter are one of three sets of current NFL teammates who both registered double-digit sack totals in 2007. Coincidentally, all three duos reside in the NFC East in Dallas's DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis and the New York Giants' Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck.
Taylor had 11 sacks last season while Carter had 10.5.
Taylor's 117 sacks are the most among all NFL active players and rank 14th all-time in NFL history.
(The NFL sack leader is former Bills and Redskins defensive end Bruce Smith, who leads with an even 200 sacks. Smith played in Buffalo from 1985-99 and Washington from 2000-03.)
Additionally, Taylor's 100.5 sacks this decade are a league-high, 11.5 more than Michael Strahan's 85 and 26 more than any other active player (Leonard Little, 74.5).
Taylor has also demonstrated a propensity for getting his hands on the football as his 41 forced fumbles are 10 more than any other current NFL player (Dwight Freeney and Little, 31).
-- London Calling
Middle linebacker London Fletcher played for the Bills from 2002-06 and led the team in tackles every season.
He had his best season with the Bills in 2006, recording 157 tackles, two sacks and four interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Fletcher has been one of the NFL's most consistent and productive defensive players throughout his 10-year career.
That continued last season, his first in the nation's capital, as the 5-foot-10, 245-pound Fletcher was named a first-alternate to the Pro Bowl after starting all 17 of the team's games and leading the Redskins with 164 tackles.
Fletcher has now opened 119 straight league contests, a figure which ranks eighth among active players.
Last year also marked the ninth straight in which he recorded at least 100 tackles, dating back to 1999 when he was in his second season with the St. Louis Rams.
That streak is topped only by Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks and Kansas City's Donnie Edwards, who have reached the plateau in 12 consecutive campaigns.
-- Redskins' Coaching Connections to Buffalo
The Redskins have a host of coaches who have spent time with the Buffalo Bills.
Redskins' secondary coach Jerry Gray spent five seasons with the Bills, including a stint as defensive coordinator, from 2001-05.
Redskins' safeties Steve Jackson coached in Buffalo from 2001-03.
And Redskins' special teams coordinator Danny Smith held the same position with the Bills from 2001-03.
-- Collins And the Bills
Quarterback Todd Collins played for the Bills from 1995-97. He started 13-of-14 games for the Bills in 1997 and 17-of-28 games during his three-year stint.
Collins was selected in the second round (45th overall) of the 1995 NFL Draft by the Bills.
Bills backup quarterback Gibran Hamdan was a seventh-round draft pick by the Redskins in 2003.
He threw his only NFL regular season pass in the Redskins' 2003 season finale.
Hamdan, who was called "Gibby" by then-Redskins head coach Steve Spurrier in 2003, previously had a two-year stint with the Seattle Seahawks, where his position coach was Jim Zorn.
-- Jauron and Blache
Bills head coach Dick Jauron and Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache have spent a lot of time on the same sidelines through their NFL coaching careers.
Jauron and Blache were on the Chicago Bears coaching staff from 1999-2003.
Their careers also overlapped in Green Bay, where Jauron was an assistant from 1986-94 and Blache was an assistant from 1988-93.
-- Book of Moorman
Bills punter Brian Moorman is one of the NFL's best. He has a career punting average of 43.07, best in Bills franchise history.
Moorman is familiar to Redskins fans in another way.
During the 2007 Pro Bowl (following the 2006 season), Moorman tried a fake punt. He rolled left and at the line of scrimmage he was leveled by the late Sean Taylor for no gain.
-- FedExField Attendance
FedExField is the largest stadium in the NFL with 91,704 seats. It is more than 11,000 seats ahead of the second biggest stadium, Giants Stadium.
The Redskins set a single-game attendance record--90,910--in the Dec. 30, 2007 game against the Dallas Cowboys.
-- Bills Special Teams
Buffalo has played 92 consecutive games without having a kick blocked. The last time the Bills had a kick blocked was in 2002.
The Bills are the only NFL team to play the last five years without a blocked kick. They have had 798 punts and field goals in that span.
-- Preseason Record
The Redskins are 106-125-2 all-time in preseason play, including the Aug. 3 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the Hall of Fame game.
Last year, Washington was 2-2 in the preseason.
-- What's Next?
After the Bills preseason game, the Redskins travel to the Meadowlands on Saturday, Aug. 16 to play the New York Jets. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.
The game will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet and WUSA-TV Channel 9.
FAMILIAR FACES ON THE BILLS
Bills assistant offensive line coach Ray Brown played for the Redskins from 1989-95 and 2004-05. He also served as a special assistant coach with the Redskins in 2006.
Defensive backs coach George Catavolos held the same position with the Redskins from 2002-03.
Left guard Derrick Dockery played for the Redskins from 2003-06. Dockery was a third-round draft choice (81st overall) by the Redskins in 2003.
Tight end Robert Royal played for the Redskins from 2002-05. Royal was a fifth-round draft choice (160th overall) by the Redskins in 2002.
Quarterback Gibran Hamdan played for the Redskins in 2003. He also spent the 2004 offseason with the club. He was the Redskins' seventh-round draft pick in 2003.