The Fifth Quarter: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
By: Daniel Coleman
Category: Washington Redskins News
On to the Fifth Quarter rankings, which are based on a scale of 1 to 5 Quarters:
The passing offense was ultimately responsible for four of Washington's six turnovers, as Santana Moss fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and Jason Campbell also fumbled once in addition to his two interceptions.
Washington also had moments of brilliance, however, especially as the Redskins battled from behind in the second half. Chris Cooley led the team in receptions, catching six balls for 96 yards and a 39-yard touchdown. Keenan McCardell had another solid week with six receptions for 60 yards. Five of Washington’s receivers grabbed at least five receptions.
Despite 300 yards and 16 first downs, however, the passing offense failed when it mattered the most. In three trips to the red zone, Washington managed a goose egg in scoring. Campbell also faced his third opportunity in as many weeks to lead the Redskins to a last minute, come from behind victory. Unfortunately, he made a couple of bad decisions that resulted in interceptions, leaving the Redskins without a win.
Clinton Portis had the most noticeable gaffs early in the game when he turned the ball over twice on fumbles. Although he recovered to have a decent performance, especially in the second half, his early mistakes put the Redskins behind and forced the Redskins to switch to a pass-heavy offense.
Betts came on strong in the second half, carrying the ball only eight times but netting 47 yards, including one rush for sixteen. The run blocking certainly suffered in this game against a good — and fast — Tampa defense, but then again Washington is missing three offensive linemen and had a rookie third-string tackle start the game.
One high point was that the rushing offense helped keep the clock moving during the second half, keeping the offense on the field and the defense off of it. Despite losing the time-of-possession battle by a 2:1 ratio in the first half, the Redskins finished the game winning that stat by a 10-minute margin.
The defense, missing its best player in Sean Taylor, gave an enthused performance on Sunday — quite possibly the best of this season. In the second half, Tampa Bay managed 15 yards of offense and zero first downs. They were forced to punt seven times. Despite being handed the ball inside of the Redskins 30-yard line on four occasions, Tampa managed only sixteen points from the turnovers and nineteen points total. Washington was so dominant on defense that the Buccaneers were only able to run 13 plays in the second half. LaRon Landry led the team with six tackles.
The only element that would have made the Redskins' performance more complete would have been a turnover, perhaps, but let's face it: this was a near-perfect game for the defense. It is a shame that the offense could not capitalize and steal this one from the Buccaneers.
Washington's special teams performance was innocuous, but it didn't hurt the team and even set up the offense with a chance to win late in the game. Shaun Suisham was perfect on field goals, hitting kicks from 43 and 38 yards, ensuring that a late Washington touchdown would have won the game.
Credit goes to Tampa Bay's punter, Josh Bidwell, who boomed seven kicks for a 42-yard average, including three inside of the 20-yard line, and made Washington's second-half drives much longer than they probably should have been. Repeatedly, Tampa Bay had to punt from deep in their own territory, and Bidwell responded with such long kicks that the Redskins saw little benefit in the field position battle.
Bidwell's contribution was as significant as Tampa's interceptions. Unfortunately, with Antwaan Randle El out of the game, the Redskins' punt return unit could do little to retaliate. The punt coverage team also failed to cover up a Tampa Bay fumble that would have put Washington's offense in scoring range.
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