LANDOVER, Md. – Clinton Portis did cartwheels to celebrate his long overdue touchdowns. LaVar Arrington actually got on the field and led the team in tackles. The defense finally forced a turnover. The offense had its best scoring day in 14 years.

In retrospect, it all seemed kind of silly that Joe Gibbs was worried about anyone motivating the San Francisco 49ers. The Washington Redskins feasted on the worst team in the NFC, rolling to a 52-17 victory Sunday in what looked like a mismatch scrimmage between a top university and the junior college down the street.

The Redskins (4-2) led 35-7 at halftime, piled up 448 yards and scored on seven of their first nine possessions to snap a two-game losing streak. Mark Brunell completed 13 of 20 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns. Mike Sellers caught scoring passes of 2 and 19 yards. Santana Moss had a 32-yard TD reception and maintained his torrid start with five passes for 112 yards, his fourth 100-yard game in five weeks.

Portis ran 19 times for 101 yards and three touchdowns, a huge relief to a player who put some self-effacing humor into his scoreless season at practice last week by donning a wig and glasses that made him resemble Doc Brown from “Back to the Future.” Portis did little jigs after his first and third TDs and performed two cartwheels after his 1-yard score that made it 21-7 late in the second quarter.

There were equal – if not greater – cheers for Arrington, the benched three-time Pro Bowl linebacker who didn’t play a down on defense the last two weeks. Assistant coach Gregg Williams said Arrington was improving in practice, and he rewarded the popular player by using him mostly in long-yardage situations. Arrington had nine tackles, including a 7-yard loss when he stopped receiver Rasheed Marshall on a reverse.

The 52 points were the most for the Redskins since a 56-17 win over Atlanta on Nov. 10, 1991. They forced two turnovers, their first since the opening game of the season. They had five sacks – doubling their number for the entire season.

All of this was possible because of the 49ers (1-5), who have lost five straight and didn’t put up much of a challenge. Multiple injuries to linebackers and defensive backs have taken their toll, and the Redskins took advantage of missed tackles and blown coverages all game. Cornerback Shawntae Spencer got burned several times and looked especially bad when he stopped giving chase on Moss’ touchdown catch.

No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith, making his second start, was 8-for-16 for 92 yards and committed both turnovers – a fumble and an interception. The rout made for a tough return to Washington for 49ers head coach Mike Nolan, the Redskins’ defensive coordinator from 1997-99. At least San Francisco scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, after getting shut out 62-0 in that period in its first five games.

Gibbs this week criticized anyone who suggested his team would have an easy time with the 49ers. Well, the Redskins did, and Gibbs as a bonus became the third active coach to win 150 games, behind Marty Schottenheimer (185) and Bill Parcells (167).

AP-ES-10-23-05 1604EDT


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