John Smallwood | 16-13 feels good in Washington

Posted: September 10, 2007

LANDOVER, Md. - This was the exact opposite of what happened to the Eagles in Green Bay.

Obviously, one game, especially the first one, doesn't make a season, but there's no doubt the Redskins are feeling a lot better today than the Eagles. Shaun

Suisham's 39-yard field goal 5:36 into overtime yesterday at FedEx Field lifted the

Redskins over Miami, 16-13. The Eagles, who host Washington next Monday night, were beaten by the same score in Lambeau Field on a last-second field goal.

"Obviously, a big win at home is a huge deal," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "I was really proud of everybody. On the

sideline you could feel everyone fighting his guts out.

"That game was seesaw, back and forth, making plays, not making plays. That was a huge emotional swing out there a number of times, and what came out of that, to me, was a team that is not going to get down, and [will] keep swinging.

"When I think back over it, the biggest thing I'm proud of is the attitude. It was hard-fought and I think that shows the heart of your team. If there is one thing I'd like to have, it's that."

The Redskins overcame an

interception on their first pass of the season. They survived allowing the Dolphins to score a touchdown as time expired in the first half. They didn't get down after Jason Campbell's Hail Mary pass at the end of regulation came up 3 yards short of a winning touchdown.

It all had to make the Redskins feel like the snake that had sunk its fangs deep into their backsides finally has decided to release its venomous grip.

Last season's disappointing, 5-11 campaign began with a tough, late-game loss to Minnesota. Overall, the Redskins lost six games by six points or fewer.

Late in the fourth quarter, Gibbs had to have a sick feeling of deja vu. The Dolphins tied the score on a field goal with just less than 2 minutes left. Then, the Redskins' Antwaan Randle El caught Campbell's deflected prayer at the 6 then fumbled it out of bounds at the 3 after a 54-yard gain, diving for the end zone as time expired.

But Washington won the overtime toss, took the kickoff and marched 58 yards to the 22, setting up Suisham's game-winning kick.

"Winning this one as opposed to losing , that was an awful feeling," Gibbs said. "Everybody wanted this, and this is extremely gratifying to get a win like that.

"If we can keep that attitude and then make some of these plays, hopefully there will be good things in store for us."

Gibbs said past heartache is why he decided to send Suisham out on first down rather than risk running another play.

"I've lost two games here in the last 3 years by having a [close] field goal and trying to get more," Gibbs said. "I made up my mind I'm not passing up a sure chance to win a football game.

"I'm on the 20, what are you

going to do? Get to the 10 or get a holding or a pass-interference penalty against you?"

Playing in his first game in 10 months, Clinton Portis, who did not play during the preseason at his request, carried 17 times for 98 yards. He had a 19-yard touchdown run and had 34 rushing yards on the game-winning drive.

"One of the things you appreciate about Clinton is how tough he is," Gibbs said. "He gives no quarter and will fire up and go

after anybody. For me, you can look in a guy's eyes and see, this guy really knows how this is supposed to be played."

Campbell, the 2004 first-round pick who spent most of his first two seasons watching, had a nightmarish start when his first pass was intercepted by safety Renaldo Hill.

Campbell wasn't spectacular, completing 12 of 21 passes for 222 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions, but he made just enough plays to help accomplish the most important thing: winning the game.

On third-and-7 from the Washington 43, Campbell connected with tight end Chris Cooley for a 10-yard gain that kept the game-winning drive moving.

"Obviously, the way things started is not what you want for your quarterback," Gibbs said. "The good thing about Jason is you have a plain discussion about it. He talks things over. He does not get ruffled or flustered.

"Young quarterbacks will make mistakes, but they've got to find a way to make plays and win games. The team looks at that and says, 'Young guy missed some things, but his heart and the way he fights, he makes plays for us.'

"Players respond to that. The players told me they came by here in the offseason and saw [Campbell] here every single day, studying and watching film. He's paid the price, and hopefully we've got somebody who can be a leader here for a long time." *

Send e-mail to smallwj@phillynews.com

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