NFL: Redskins 14, Browns 11
LANDOVER, Md. ó It’s easy to focus on talkative rookie coach Jim Zorn, whose West Coast offense surprisingly comes with a heavy dose of smashmouth. Or on Clinton Portis, who had a 175-yard game and is running better than ever.
Or on Santana Moss, whose three spin moves essentially produced two touchdowns. Or on the fact that two straight games have hinged on long field-goal attempts in the final seconds.
But how about some props for the Washington Redskins’ defense? With several big plays, the Redskins shut down the Cleveland Browns 14-11 Sunday, throttling a team that looked unstoppable against the world champions only a week earlier.
“Somebody’s got to do the dirty work,” said defensive tackle Kedric Golston, who batted away one of five passes deflected at the line of scrimmage, “and we take just as much pride in doing the dirty work as we do making the play.”
Led by middle linebacker London Fletcher and missing injured cornerback Shawn Springs, the defense gave up only 236 yards and nearly didn’t allow a touchdown for the second straight week. Carlos Rogers, nursing a calf injury, held Braylon Edwards to four catches. Demetric Evans knocked away a fourth-down pass near the goal line. Andre Carter had a sack for the Redskins (5-2), who have won five of six.
“They’re the ones who kept us in the game,” center Casey Rabach said. “When the offense finally decided to get it right and start playing football, we had a chance still.”
The Browns (2-4), who had won two straight, had their point production drop from 35 against the Giants. Their yards total plummeted from 454. Derek Anderson went from 310 yards passing to 136 (14-for-37) and was hurt by several drops. Kellen Winslow, back after missing last week’s game with an unidentified illness, didn’t catch a pass until late.
“We might have underestimated the Redskins,” Edwards said. “The defense played tremendous, and we’ve got to give them help. I was a little frustrated early in the game, and it messed me up.”
Coach Romeo Crennel didn’t think his players “had quite the energy they had on Monday night” against the Giants. Among the culprits was Anderson, who was 5-for-22 before the late rally.
“This team reverted back to some of the things they did earlier in the year,” Crennel said. “It’s hard to blame one particular guy, but as the quarterback, he takes a lot of the blame because he is the guy with the ball in his hands.”
The game’s first 14 possessions ended in 13 punts and a missed field goal, but Portis kept churning away, breaking a scoreless tie with a 3-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter. Portis, who entered the weekend as the NFL’s leading rusher, had 27 carries despite a nagging hip flexor that limited him in practice most of last week.