LANDOVER, Md. (AP)—All it took was some red socks and a load of work to get Clinton Portis and the Washington Redskins past the 20-point barrier, an accomplishment celebrated by the return of the flamboyant running back’s championship belt.
Marginalized during the team’s three-game losing streak, Portis got the ball early and often Sunday. He gained 148 yards on 31 carries, running for one touchdown and scoring another on a shovel pass in the Redskins’ 31-7 victory over the New York Giants.
“I knew the team was going to be depending on me, and we finally went out and gave the defense what they wanted—that was 21 points,” Portis said. “At halftime, we told them they’d better not blow the game for us.”
The Redskins (4-8) led 21-0 at halftime and scored 20 in a game for the first time since Joe Gibbs returned as coach, ending their longest such drought since the 1930s. They scored more points than in their last three games combined, and they hit 30 for the first time since Week 2 of last season.
Portis had only six carries in last week’s loss at Pittsburgh, but Gibbs gave him the ball on the first five plays and seven times in the opening drive. Portis has 1,093 yards on the season, giving him 1,000-plus in each of his first three years.
And, yes, the unpredictable fashion connoisseur did it all wearing red socks.
“I’ll probably get fined, but white socks have been killing us, man,” Portis said. “I had to go out and change my outfit. If you’re not looking sweet, you really can’t play too sweet.”
As he walked off the field, Portis wore a fighter’s championship belt, just as he did after rushing for five TDs for Denver last year against Kansas City and proclaimed himself rushing champion above Priest Holmes.
“This week, they’ve been talking about Tiki Barber being the best back in the NFL,” Portis said. “I think I’m the best back in the NFL. I haven’t had the opportunity—we haven’t really got rolling. But when we get going, I’m going to prove to be worth everything.”
Patrick Ramsey, making his third start since Mark Brunell was benched, completed 19 of 22 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns. The first two scoring drives went 93 and 91 yards against a Giants defensive line missing three-quarters of its opening day starters. The Redskins are 4-0 when Portis runs for 100 yards, 0-8 when he doesn’t.
“He really wanted the ball, he always does,” Gibbs said. “I think after a couple of weeks of us not doing very well with the running game, I think he was really fired up. A lot of things that haven’t been going well for us during the year went well for us tonight.”
Derrick Ward’s 92-yard kickoff return in the third quarter was the only score for the Giants (5-7), who have lost five straight and are fading fast from the playoff race. No. 1 overall draft pick Eli Manning fell to 0-3 as a starter, completing 12 of 25 passes for just 113 yards, including a 48-yard pass to Amani Toomer in garbage time. Manning has led just one touchdown drive in three games.
The Giants were as hopeless as the Redskins were efficient. New York had just seven first downs and 145 total yards. Barber rushed for 38 yards on 15 carries. Jeff Feagles had a punt blocked by Walt Harris, setting up Washington’s third touchdown.
“We knew exactly what the Redskins would do, and we still didn’t stop them,” said coach Tom Coughlin, adding that he will stick with Manning. “We physically got whipped up front on both sides of the ball. … I don’t see anybody who’s not trying at all. I see frustration out there. I don’t think anybody’s more frustrated than I am.”
The defensive line, already missing Michael Strahan and Keith Washington for the season, played without tackle Norman Hand because of a groin injury. Regan Upshaw, signed a few days ago, played with “cheat sheets” taped to his wrist so that he would know the plays. The Giants had a 2-to-1 deficit in time of possession.
“They’d get seven yards on first down running the ball right down our throat,” defensive end Osi Umenyiora said. “It was just awful. I don’t think it was a breakdown in our scheme. It was just a breakdown in the way we were
Washington DE Phillip Daniels could be lost for the season after dislocating a bone in his left wrist. Sunday was his first game after missing four with a strained hamstring. … Randy Thomas, expected to out two to four weeks with a strained hamstring, returned to start at right guard after missing just one game. … Giants C Shaun O’Hara returned after missing two games with an ankle injury. LB Barrett Green sprained an ankle.