Apparently, Joe Gibbs didn’t lose his winning touch in 12 years away from the NFL.
Clinton Portis rushed for 148 yards in his Redskins debut, including a 64-yard touchdown run on his first carry, as the Redskins gave Gibbs a 16-10 win over Tampa Bay in front of the home fans at FedEx Field last week.
“It was huge for me, I can tell you that,” said Gibbs, a three-time Super Bowl winner with the Redskins. “And I think it was for our players, too. … As a family and everything else, for us it’s a big deal. I told my players that I hope now the attention can go on them.”
Yet Gibbs deserves some of the credit for Portis’ touchdown, as it came from the coach’s usual bag of tricks: a counter play that suckered the Buccaneers defense the wrong way. Portis took one step to the left, then headed for daylight to the right and was never touched.
Also evident in the Redskins last week was Gibbs’ commitment to defense. They held the Bucs without an offensive touchdown for the game and without a first down until midway through the second quarter. Two of Washington’s three field goals were set up by turnovers, and Tampa Bay managed just 169 yards, including 30 rushing. The Redskins sacked Brad Johnson four times.
“I can’t take any credit for that,” said Gibbs, who was lured back to coach this season after retiring in 1992. “All I do is walk down there and scream, ‘Stop ‘em.’ ”
While Gibbs may deflect attention away from himself, his detailed preparation should be even more evident this week against a team the Redskins regularly battled for NFC East supremacy during Gibbs’ first Washington tenure. The current Giants club, however, played nothing like the team Gibbs is used to facing last week, struggling in all facets of the game in a 31-17 loss to Philadelphia.
In contrast to Washington, New York seemed completely unprepared in its opener against Eagles stars Terrell Owens, Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. Owens had three touchdown catches, McNabb threw for 330 yards and a career-high four TDs, and Westbrook ran for 119 yards against a badly overmatched Giants defense.
“We obviously had a lot of trouble stopping them on defense,” coach Tom Coughlin said after his first game as Giants coach. “We have our work cut out for us, but I’m not discouraged.”
There’s also plenty to be done for New York on the other side of the ball. Two-time NFL MVP Kurt Warner had a lackluster debut for the Giants, going 16-of-28 for 203 yards and getting sacked four times. The former St. Louis quarterback has lost his last nine starts.
“I thought we made progress,” Warner said. “But it’s never good enough if you don’t win.”
Even though they had some differences through the years, neither would say anything bad about the other Wednesday.
“Unless Tom lines up on the other side of the ball, this isn’t Mark vs. Tom,” Brunell said. “The extent of this thing is I’m going to shake his hand before the game, and I’m going to shake his hand afterward. Other than that, it’s two football teams going at it. I’m looking forward to seeing him. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.”
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