Sept. 7, 2003
By Andrew Mason
CINCINNATI -- One could hear the collective gasp of the representatives of Bronco Nation at Paul Brown Stadium when Clinton Portis fell to the bluegrass of Paul Brown Stadium late in the third quarter of Sunday's 30-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Writhing in pain, Portis was unable to rise after his 19th carry of the day, one that put him over the 100-yard mark for the fifth time in his last six regular-season games. A Bengals defender had stepped on his foot, and for a moment, Denver's bellwether back could barely move.
"I was trying to plant, and they stepped on my foot from the side. So it kind of went numb," Portis said.
But Head Coach Mike Shanahan wasn't concerned. After watching Portis up close for 17 regular-season games, he knows it would take more than a misplaced foot to fell the running back.
"I just know how tough he is," Shanahan said. "I thought there might be a little setback, but I'd be surprised if anything could keep this guy down. Whatever his weight is, he plays about 40 pounds heavier. It would surprise me if he was knocked out of a game or even practice with the way he's prepared and the way he's hung in there."
That was the sole hiccup on a day that saw him start a year better than any Broncos running back ever has. His 120 yards were a Broncos opening-day record, besting the 116 yards posted by Gaston Green against Cincinnati in 1991. Further, Portis' performance was the franchise's first season-opening 100-yard rushing performance away from Denver.
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