Redskins Win Opener

They came to see Joe Gibbs, who energized the crowd just by walking onto the field with a steeled look. And they were pleased: Gibbs has installed a toughness in his players, one that helped them ignore a rough stretch.

They came to see Clinton Portis. And they were pleased with him, too. On his first carry as a Redskin, Portis showed his great vision and quickness, cutting back into a huge opening and running 64 yards for a touchdown.

They also came to see an aggressive defense. Once again, they were pleased. Washington's new tactics resulted in only 169 total yards for Tampa Bay, four sacks and two turnovers.

Mostly, they came to see a win. And the Redskins got that for their fans as well, beating Tampa Bay, 16-10, in the season opener. It also happened to be the Redskins' 500th regular-season win as a franchise, 125 of which were led by Gibbs.

But this was his first game back since the 1992 season, leading to some tangled nerves. His wife sensed something was different for him Saturday, telling him, ''I don't know when you've ever wanted one like this.''

''I had all the emotions going before the game,'' Gibbs said. ''For me it was a big deal. I told the players that hopefully now all the attention will be on them. They made all the great plays today and they deserve the credit.''

Portis rushed 29 times for 148 yards, grinding out yards after his opening run, which gave Washington a 7-0 lead. The play was designed to go left, but Portis spotted a hole on the right and used a block by receiver James Thrash on safety Dwight Smith.

''There was only a safety there and it was off to the races,'' Portis said.

The Redskins made it 10-0 on a 20-yard John Hall field goal, set up when safety Matt Bowen sacked and stripped Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson of the ball. Tackle Cornelius Griffin recovered. Bowen had never had a sack before Sunday; now he has two. And he did exactly as he should when stripping the ball, remembering that his coaches had told him how Johnson likes to hold the ball away from his body.

Gibbs showed his conservative side when he opted for the field goal rather than going for it on fourth and about an inch.

But Tampa Bay came back, getting a 47-yard field goal by Martin Gramatica in the second quarter. Then, in the third quarter, corner Ronde Barber recovered a Mark Brunell fumble at the Washington 9-yard line and returned it for a touchdown.

''Last year's team would have collapsed,'' one veteran player said of this turning point.

This year's team didn't. Instead, with the score tied at 10, linebacker Antonio Pierce intercepted a pass at his own 45 and returned it 16 yards to the Bucs' 39. A 16-yard Portis run was the big play on the drive as Washington reached the 12. Hall capped the drive with a 30-yard field goal.

Then, with 5:03 remaining, the Redskins embarked on a classic drive, grinding out yards and the clock. Portis rushed seven times for 22 yards and the Redskins got a 34-yard Hall field goal with 21 seconds left to end the scoring.

''If I need to be a grind-it-out back, I'll be a grind-it-out back,'' Portis said.

And, because of it, the Redskins walked away with a win.

''There was a lot more electricity in the air,'' Redskins tackle Chris Samuels said.

It was easy to understand why.


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