Gibbs defends, explains final sequence of loss to Giants

ASHBURN, Va. -- Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts are "interchangeable."

It wasn't Betts' fault, anyway. The left side of the offensive line failed to execute.

Jason Campbell could have taken more time on fourth down instead of rushing the snap.

The plays Al Saunders called during the goal-line stand were "the best plays" for the situation, given both teams' tendencies and the matchups on the field.

Coach Joe Gibbs, whose comments are often vague when it comes to players and strategy, went into unusually meticulous detail Monday when discussing how his Washington Redskins failed to score from first-and-goal at the 1-yard line in the final minute of Sunday's 24-17 loss to the New York Giants.

Maybe it was because he knew every move in that final minute was being second-guessed.

"When it's all said and done, any time you run, you could pass," Gibbs said. "Any time you give it to one back, you could give it to another back. Any choice you make up here, it's fair game. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of talk about that one.

"The bottom line is the only way you can answer that is to win. If you win the game, you get into the end zone, you've got no problems."

He's right, of course. The queries about clock management, play-calling, halftime adjustments and use of personnel would be muted if Betts had scored on third-and-1 or fourth-and-1. Instead, the Redskins (2-1) began their bye week vacations in a sour mood.

"I'm sure we'll always look back at this one, no matter how we wind up, and probably kick ourselves for it," left guard Pete Kendall said.

The final minute was a blur. After completing a pass to the 1 with no timeouts remaining, the Redskins instructed quarterback Jason Campbell to spike the ball so that the goal line offense could get on the field. Gibbs said Campbell could have run a play -- such as a quarterback sneak -- in the three-receiver set that was already out there, but the quarterback would have had to spike on second down if he didn't score.

A second-down pass to fullback Mike Sellers was dropped. Then came two runs by Betts behind the left side of the line. Betts (9 career TDs) had not carried the ball the entire half, but he was in the game while marquee back Portis (55 TDs) watched from the sideline.

"We think they're interchangeable," Gibbs said.

Betts was stopped for no gain on third-and-goal and lost 2 yards on fourth-and-goal, although it was doubtful that Portis or anyone else could have found a way through the crowd of blue jerseys that overwhelmed the offensive line. Afterward, the Giants said they knew which play was coming.

"It definitely wasn't the runner," Gibbs said.

Portis, playing the part of good teammate, agreed.

"Who's to say I would have scored?" he said.

Gibbs said the left side of the offensive line was slow to react to the snap, particularly on one play.

"I could have been better down there on the goal line," Kendall said. "There are a lot of things I could have done better, and the unfortunate part of this right now is that you've got to sit on it for a couple of weeks."

When the Redskins ran the same play from 1-yard line in the first half, Portis scored easily. On that play, however, there was no mad rush to snap the ball.

"The hurry-up part of it kind of got our bodies out of sync a little bit," right tackle Todd Wade said.

And yet Campbell didn't have to rush. There were 25 seconds left when the ball was snapped on fourth-and-1. Had he taken his time and settled his teammates down, the outcome might have been different. That's something the young quarterback should master with experience.

While 2-1 isn't a bad start, the Redskins needed every win they could get in September. The opponents they played this month have a combined record of 2-7; their October slate is currently a combined 10-2.

That led Gibbs to defend himself again. He is giving the team the week off, with no practice until next Monday. He said he wants the players to rest and heal for the 13 straight weeks of games that follow, starting Oct. 7 vs. Detroit.

"Can that be second guessed? Absolutely," Gibbs said. "And I'm sure there ain't going to be anybody who reminds me of it if we play well against Detroit."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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