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BY RICH CAMPBELL
ASHBURN--Jim Zorn didn't do anything special to celebrate on Sunday night. The Washington Redskins' head coach knows that Sunday's 27-17 win over the Denver Broncos won't magically solve the predicament he and his team got themselves into during the first half of the season.
He slept a bit better two nights ago, but that's about it. Otherwise, he remained immersed in his work.
He analyzed the game film from Sunday's win and by yesterday afternoon still had not seen video of the play that has the football world buzzing: New England coach Bill Belichick's ill-fated decision to try to convert a fourth-and-2 deep in his own territory while protecting a late six-point lead against rival Indianapolis.
Zorn has more pressing issues to confront, such as ensuring that the Redskins carry their best performance of the season over to consecutive divisional road games, beginning on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
"The idea that we know we can win--we beat a team that [was] 6-2; we beat a good defensive team, statistically--it gives us confidence," Zorn said.
Confidence and momentum were prevalent topics of conversation after the Redskins (3-6) halted their grueling four-game losing streak. Washington hasn't had either for an extended period because both of its previous two wins were not satisfying.
Narrow victories over woeful St. Louis and Tampa Bay in the season's first month were pocked by as many negatives as positives, and the Redskins lost the ensuing game after both. Sunday's win over Denver, however, was different.
The Redskins bullied the Broncos in the running game and shut them out in the second half. It was a performance worth savoring, and it earned players the day off yesterday.
"You just feel so much better," linebacker/defensive end Brian Orakpo said. "Everybody is just so upbeat. Everybody is real excited. We can use this as momentum until the next game because it feels so good when you win.
"At the same time, you don't want to feel that's it, we're done and then go back and lose four more. We've got to keep progressing as a team, take this game as motivation and keep moving forward."
The Redskins will proceed this week without running back Clinton Portis, who still is experiencing symptoms of the concussion he suffered 10 days ago against Atlanta.
He is no longer suffering from headaches or ringing in his head, but he is not ready to return to practice because he is experiencing some blurriness when he moves his head quickly, Zorn said.
"If he doesn't practice all week long--it will be because of his concussion--I will not play him in the game," Zorn said.
Ladell Betts ran for 114 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries in Portis' absence. He was more explosive and elusive that Portis generally has been this season. Portis has battled numerous right-leg injuries, and the blocking in front of him has not been as good as it was for Betts on Sunday.
Zorn admitted that Betts provided some "explosiveness and suddenness," but as fan support builds for Betts to replace Portis as the starting running back, Zorn remains committed to Portis, if and when he returns to action.
"The issue is his health. That's the main thing, that's the only thing," Zorn said. "I don't want a guy to have to lose his job because he got a concussion. He's our running back, and who knows what kind of game he might have had?"
Zorn, however, will stick with the latest version of Washington's makeshift offensive line.
The three changes entering Sunday's win--Levi Jones made his first start of the season at left tackle, Chad Rinehart returned to the starting lineup at right guard and Stephon Heyer switched to right tackle--preceded the unit's best performance of the season.
"Our offensive line really did a good job of creating lanes," Zorn said. "That's something that we haven't had. I think we're all excited about that."
The same applies to the victory, as a whole.
"It gives us a little momentum going down to Dallas next week," linebacker London Fletcher said. "It gives us a winning feeling from a confidence standpoint. You would just be surprised how much a win does for you just from a confidence standpoint."
Rich Campbell: 540/735-1974
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