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Redskins Take Gold In San Francisco Win

The positive momentum continues.

The Redskins defeated the San Francisco 49ers 26-16 on Saturday at Monster Park, improving their record to 5-9 on the season.

"Our guys have continued to fight and it has been every single week," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "It was a short work week for us--we played late last Sunday night and we had to travel to the west coast. The thing I'm proudest of is just the way we fight."

Two former backups turned starters were among the key contributors for the Redskins.

Robert Royal logged his second career touchdown in the first quarter and Antonio Pierce returned an interception 78 yards for another touchdown in the second quarter.

Jeff Chandler, a former 49er who was signed by the Redskins last week when John Hall went on injured reserve, also nailed four field goals against his former team.

And then there was Clinton Portis.

When Portis rushes for 100-plus yards in a game, the Redskins are 4-0 this season. Portis continued the trend on Saturday, grinding out 110 yards on 35 carries.

He went across the 100-yard mark in the fourth quarter as the Redskins ran out the clock on the Niners.

It was another impressive performance by the Redskins' defense.

The run defense limited San Francisco to just 55 rushing yards, making the 49ers one dimensional on offense. It allowed the Redskins' secondary, minus injured starter Shawn Springs, to step to the forefront.

The defense pressured Dorsey all afternoon, pressuring him into four interceptions, with Walt Harris's fourth-quarter pick sealing the win.

By then, Ryan Clark and Sean Taylor celebrated the defense's effort by waving their arms toward the many Redskins fans in the crowd.

It was Pierce's 78-yard interception return that was easily the play of the game.

The interception came late in the first half after San Francisco had blocked a Tom Tupa punt, giving the Redskins a 14-point edge going into halftime.

Pierce stepped in front of a Dorsey pass across the middle to wide receiver Cedrick Wilson. He raced down the left sideline untouched and followed a Chris Clemons block on Dorsey, the only 49er in position to tackle Pierce, to race into the end zone.

It was the Redskins' first defensive touchdown of the season and Pierce's first career NFL touchdown.

In the first quarter, the Redskins and 49ers traded touchdowns on their game-opening drives.

Washington won the opening kickoff and quickly drove downfield. Patrick Ramsey connected with tight end Robert Royal on a 12-yard pass for the score.

Ramsey had rolled right and found Royal in the flat. The third-year player burst through two would-be tacklers and stretched into the end zone for the score.

The score capped an efficient 10-play, 72-yard drive. Ramsey was 4-of-4 for 51 yards on the game-opening drive.

The 49ers quickly responded with a touchdown drive of their own. Dorsey led the 49ers on a 9-play, 71-yard drive, capped by a 17-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon Lloyd.

The Redskins' defense committed several costly errors on the drive: cornerback Fred Smoot was called for illegal use of hands on a third-down play, giving San Francisco a first down.

Then, on the 49ers touchdown, Taylor was unable to get back in time to cover Lloyd in the back of the end zone.

In the second quarter, Chandler connected on 49-, 25- and 20-yard field goals to give the Redskins a 16-7 lead.

Still, the offense was left frustrated after twice moving inside the 49ers' 5-yard line and failing to come away with touchdowns.

"I think you have to give some credit to the 49ers," Gibbs said when asked about the inefficiency of the goal-line offense. "They gave us some different looks down there. We had some guys miss some assignments, mainly because they changed some fronts on us that we weren't expecting."

Two of Chandler's three field goals followed defensive interceptions.

On the first interception, Taylor played centerfield, leaping in front of Wilson for the pick and returning it 30 yards.

Taylor then appeared to lateral to Lemar Marshall, who ran the rest of the way for an apparent score. But the lateral was ruled illegal and while the interception stood, the ball was brought back.

The Redskins converted the turnover into a 49-yard field goal by Chandler.

On the Redskins' next possession, Ramsey led the offense to the 49ers' 2-yard line. The key play on the drive was a 39-yard completion to Rod Gardner.

But Portis was stuffed twice at the goal line and a third-down pass to Taylor Jacobs fell incomplete. Chandler followed with a 25-yard field goal.

On the 49ers' next possession, defensive end Ron Warner intercepted a Dorsey pass on and returned it 39 yards to San Francisco's 9-yard line.

Again the offense was stopped short again, as the Redskins had to settle for a 20-yard field goal.

Late in the first half, Tupa's punt was blocked deep in Redskins territory. Tupa could do nothing but kick the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety.

The 49ers seemed to feed off the special teams score, but Pierce's interception return seemed to take the air out of the 49ers' offense.

Not even a fourth-quarter touchdown by the 49ers offense could undo the momentum that the Redskins had been building the last few weeks.

"You would like to develop a formula over a period of time that your team buys into and has confidence in," Gibbs said. "That's what we're trying to do here. We're trying to build something that we can hang our hat on and this is what we believe is.

"What I'd like to see us do is finish the next two weeks strong and finish this the right way. I think it would mean a lot for us. The best way to help your team and build for the future is to win games."

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