Portis lifts Redskins, Gibbs to 16-10 win
NFL.com wire reports

LANDOVER, Md. (Sept. 12, 2004) -- The emotions were churning on the eve of Joe Gibbs' first opener in 12 years, for both the coach and his family.

"Good gosh! I don't know when I've ever wanted one like this," Gibbs recalled his wife as saying.

Pat Gibbs must have been a nervous wreck in the fourth quarter, when the score was still tied. An interception by Antonio Pierce turned the momentum, however, and the Washington Redskins beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-10 Sunday to welcome the Hall of Fame coach back to the NFL.

"It was huge for me, I can tell you that," said Gibbs, who got his 125th regular season victory and 141st overall. "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."

Gibbs pointed to the crowd and gave a thumbs-up sign before heading into the tunnel after the final whistle in game in which his offense reached the end zone just once: on a 64-yard run by Clinton Portis on his first carry with the Redskins. Otherwise, the game was decided by an aggressive game plan from assistant coach Gregg Williams, to whom Gibbs has given complete control of the defense.

The Redskins 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.

"I can't take any credit for that," Gibbs said. "All I do is walk down there and scream, 'Stop 'em.' "

Tampa Bay finished with 169 total yards, including just 30 rushing. "They did a great job with their coverages and different blitz schemes," said Tampa Bay quarterback Brad Johnson, who was sacked four times. "We've got a lot of work in front of us."

The Bucs also lost Joey Galloway to a groin strain in the second quarter. Coach Jon Gruden would only that Galloway is out "indefinitely."

Gibbs led the Redskins to three Super Bowl titles in his first stint with the team from 1981-92, and it appeared the old magic was still there when his team dominated the first half. But Washington's offense began to sputter, and it took John Hall's 30-yard field goal with 8:55 to break a 10-10 tie. Hall added a 34-yard field goal with 16 seconds to play.

Portis finished with 148 yards, and his touchdown was a thing of beauty from Gibbs' 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.

The defense did the rest, motivated by the desire to outperform Tampa Bay's strong defense. Blitzing safety Matt Bowen stripped Johnson of the ball to set up a field goal in the second quarter, and Pierce's interception led to the go-ahead field goal. Tampa Bay's last realistic chance to win was thwarted by back-to-back sacks, the first one by Renaldo Wynn and Ron Warner, and the second one by Bowen.

"When you play against a good defense, you want to be that good defense," said Bowen, who got his first two career sacks. "It makes you play hard, it makes you want to make the plays. You want to be the defense everyone's talking about."

Tampa Bay's first score came without a first down, a 47-yard field goal by Martin Gramatica in the second quarter set up by Frank Murphy's 54-yard kickoff return. The Bucs tied the game at 10 on Ronde Barber's 9-yard fumble return in the third quarter, the result of a botched handoff by Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell.

In all, the Bucs found that another good performance by their defense wasn't matched by their offense.

"That's Buc ball," Barber said. "We won a Super Bowl that way. We've been to the playoffs a lot that way. We can't get frustrated with ourselves. It's easy to, and it's easy to have doubts, and start pointing fingers, but it's the first game of the year."

NOTES: The victory was the 500th in the 73-year history of the Redskins franchise. Only Chicago (641), Green Bay (602) and the New York Giants (571) have more. ... Brunell became the 16th quarterback to start for Washington in the last 12 seasons. ... Attendance was 90,098 in the newly expanded stadium, but it didn't match the 91,665 at the USC-Virginia Tech game on Aug. 28. ... Pierce started because Mike Barrow was inactive with a knee injury. ... Barber has seven career TDs, including six on defense.



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