View Full Version : Head to Head: Redskins RB Clinton Portis vs. Steelers run D

11-03-2008, 02:13 AM
Head to Head: Redskins RB Clinton Portis vs. Steelers run defense
A closer look at the game within the game

Monday, November 03, 2008
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
There is only one team in the NFL that hasn't allowed a run of 20 yards or longer. It's the same one that will try to stop Clinton Portis, who leads the league in runs of 20 yards or longer.

The Steelers are the orange cones of the NFL, restricting traffic flow better than any other team in the league. They lead the league in total defense and pass defense, and the longest run against their third-ranked run defense is 15 yards by Cincinnati's Cedric Benson.

By comparison, all but four teams have allowed at least three runs of 20 yards or more this season; 16 teams have allowed at least five.

"We have a good defense here and we're trying to be a great defense," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "In order to do that, you have to shut down running backs and force teams into passing situations."

Shutting down Portis, the NFL's leading rusher, will be the primary objective when the Steelers (5-2) play the Washington Redskins (6-2) tonight at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

Porter, who has 944 yards on 187 carries, has rushed for more than 120 yards in each of his past five games, a performance that earned him the NFC's offensive player of the month. Only two players in NFL history -- Earl Campbell (1980) and Eric Dickerson (1984) -- have rushed for 120 or more yards in six consecutive games.

What's more, Portis has nine runs of 20 yards or longer this season, three more than the next-closest player. Five other players -- Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore, Brandon Jacobs, Michael Turner and Steve Slaton -- have six.

"Last week, Jacobs, if you could stop him before he got started, he pretty much was done," nose tackle Casey Hampton said. "Portis, he hits the hole so fast and so quick, and if his linemen tie you up, it's a different challenge. He can take it to the house at any time."

The Steelers held the Giants, the league's top rushing team, to 83 yards on 35 carries last week -- more than half their per-game average of 169.7 yards. The Giants' per-carry average of 2.4 yards against the Steelers was more than 3 yards below their per-carry average of 5.6 yards for the season.

Portis, though, presents a different challenge. The Redskins like to stretch a defense horizontally and have Portis cut back through one of the gaps. Historically, that play has always been an Achilles' heel for the Steelers because of the aggressive manner with which they flow to the football.

Why are the Steelers so good at preventing long runs?

"We have a lot of people run to the ball," inside linebacker Larry Foote said. "That's the difference between a lot of teams -- our defensive backs want to tackle, both our corners want to tackle. We hold them up to that. In this league, a lot of teams, a lot of secondaries, don't tackle. It's a mentality."

Said Keisel: "Anytime we're practicing, we can always hear coach [Dick] LeBeau in the back of ours ears yelling, 'Finish.' That's how we prepare; everyone runs to the ball. We know if we're swarming, even if he breaks one tackle, its going to be hard to break 10 more."

First published on November 3, 2008 at 12:00 am

11-03-2008, 11:39 AM


11-03-2008, 02:22 PM
Is Portis even playing tonight?

stlrz d
11-03-2008, 03:23 PM
Is Portis even playing tonight?


11-03-2008, 04:12 PM
I don't get the idea that Clinton Portis is going to be the difference tonight, but Jason Campbell is. If he can stand in there and make his throws, and Let people likeARE and Santana Moss make their plays, then it could be a long night. Fact is, after losing to the Giants last week, the Steelers really need this game. It's not necessarily a must-win, but it is as close as one could be this early in the season.