SEATTLE (AP)—Clinton Portis is turning into the NFL’s version of Allen Iverson. He doesn’t need practice. Just bring on the real games.
“I’ve been playing in the league for seven years. My reads don’t change. Obviously, I’ve got an understanding of the game,” Washington’s star running back said on Sunday.
Portis gained 143 yards on 29 carries, including key runs late that helped preserve the Redskins’ first victory in almost a month, 20-17 over the Seattle Seahawks.
“He went to heroics,” coach Jim Zorn said after his own triumphant return following two decades as a star quarterback and then an assistant for the Seahawks, who had ended Washington’s seasons here in the playoffs in the past two postseasons.
Portis was questionable to play after missing most of practice last week because of his sprained knee. Then, the NFL’s leader in yards from scrimmage pulled a muscle near his hip late in the first half.
Zorn said he prepared former NFL MVP Shaun Alexander to run for Portis in the second half, in what would have been Alexander’s first game against his former Seahawks. But Alexander remained on the sideline.
Portis would not come out.
“He was a warrior,” Zorn said, proudly.
Portis said an early blow from an elbow almost knocked him out. Then came a hit to his ribs, the new muscle pull and a hard plant that he thought almost blew out the sprained knee.
“You sure I don’t have a black eye?” Portis said, smiling over first 100-yard day since the Redskins’ last win, on Oct. 26 at Detroit.
It ended a two-game losing streak for Washington (7-4), which hosts the division-leading New York Giants (10-1) on Sunday.
“That was a rough game for me,” he said. “(But) my track is to try and just carry this team.”
That’s what Zorn demanded of Portis when the Redskins were pinned by a downed punt at their 4 with seven minutes left while leading 20-17.
Portis then ripped off runs of 9, 11 and 20 yards, leading Washington into Seahawks territory. But then Ladell Betts, who earlier ran for a touchdown, fumbled.
The Redskins didn’t stay tied with Dallas for second place in the NFC East until Seattle’s Matt Hasselbeck had an underthrown pass on the next play intended for Koren Robinson. Former Seahawk Shawn Springs intercepted it near midfield with 1:20 left.
Springs, coming back from a strained calf, said he was familiar with the play because Zorn prepped the defense for it all week.
From 2001-07, Zorn prepped Hasselbeck to become a Super Bowl and three-time Pro Bowl passer. Yet all the quarterback could do was pound his thigh pads in frustration as Seattle sunk to 2-9, its worst start since 1992.
It was the second consecutive week he had underthrown his receiver for an interception with the game at stake.
“I am trusted with the ball, and I am trusted in those situations,” Hasselbeck said. “I am definitely kicking myself right now.”
The decisive score came after Jason Campbell, who was 20-of-33 for 206 yards and a touchdown, found Santana Moss alone in the flat on third-and-5 from the Redskins 49 early in the fourth quarter and Moss ran through Lofa Tatupu’s tackle attempt for a 24-yard gain to the Seahawks 27.
That set up the second field goal of the game by Shaun Suisham, from 22 yards, and Washington led 20-17 with 9:19 left.
The game was tied at 10 in the third quarter when Hasselbeck threw far, wide and high of John Carlson on third down. LaRon Landry made a diving interception and returned it to the Seahawks 35. Campbell converted that into a 17-10 lead with an 8-yard touchdown pass while backpedalling to Antwaan Randle El, who beat Deon Grant across the middle and then across the goal line. It was Randle El’s second score of the season and first in seven games.
Seattle tied it again on Hasselbeck’s second touchdown pass, 10 yards to Carlson. The tight end, who has dropped passes in an uneven rookie season, spiked the ball into the fourth row of end zone seats to punctuate his score with 13:24 left.
Hasselbeck, playing for the second consecutive week after missing five games with back and nerve problems, still looked off. He was 12 of 24 for just 103 yards.
He has nine interceptions and just five touchdowns in six games this season.
“I’m not playing up to the level that I am capable of,” Hasselbeck said. “I’ve got to fix it quick.”
Hasselbeck did get his first two-TD passing day since last Dec. 23 against Baltimore. … Seattle lost for the fourth straight time at home. That last happened to the 2-14 team of 1992. The Seahawks had been an NFC-best 42-14 at home since 2001 before this season.