The Fifth Quarter – Tampa Bay
By: Scott Hurrey
Category: Washington Redskins News
The passing game got off to a rough start, with Mark Brunell throwing two fluky interceptions in the first 11 pass attempts, both of which resulted in Mike Alstott Touchdowns runs. Without the two interceptions, Brunell’s passing stats were actually pretty good. Brunell completed 66% of his passes, including a 42-yard strike to Santana Moss.
Besides Moss, Brunell also connected with 8 other receivers, including Chris Cooley who paced the team with 6 receptions. Patten and Betts both finished the game with 3 catches each. Mike Sellers also checked in with yet another touchdown reception.
This grade would have been much better, if not for the two interceptions and what has become Mark Brunell’s only major flaw: his propensity to put the ball on the carpet.
The Redskins offensive line seemed to open up large holes all day for both Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts. The ability to run on the number one defense in the NFL was surprising, yet it kept the Redskins in the game by grabbing huge chunks of yardage and eating up clock to keep the Bucs offense on the sidelines.
Portis demolished the Bucs defense for 144 yards on 23 carries for a 6.3 yard average per carry. He also torched Tampa Bay for the longest run they have allowed all season, when he scampered 31 yards early in the first quarter. Betts also picked up 26 yards in relief, showing again his value as Portis’ back-up.
The big story for the Washington defense was the big play. Coming into the game, the ‘Skins had given up a number of big plays on rushes to the weak side of the defense. Today it was the big pass play. Joey Galloway had his way with the Redskins secondary, seemingly open on every play. Whether it was the absence of Sean Taylor or just bad coverage is unclear, but what is obvious is that the Redskins were off their game today.
On the other hand, the Redskins run defense held the Buccaneers to just 61 yards rushing, and looked as good as ever. Big Joe Salave’a had a huge hit on “Cadillac” Williams in the second half, which resulted in a rare turnover for Washington. Unfortunately, the run defense could not stop Mike Alstott on the goal line, which allowed Tampa Bay to score a controversial 2-point conversion with 58 seconds left to take the lead for good.
Ladell Betts proved a lot of detractors wrong today. Many people around Washington have been saying that Betts was the wrong choice for kickoff return duty, but his 94 yard return of the opening kickoff in the third quarter proved to some that he has the ability.
John Hall had a decent day, with 2 field goals and all 3 extra points. Derrick Frost, who only had 2 punts the whole game, averaged 41.5 yards per punt. All in all, this was one of the best special teams’ performances in recent memory for the Burgundy and Gold.
The Redskins missed out on a huge opportunity, with the Giants loss opening up room at the top in the NFC – Beast. This was a tough loss, but an exciting game that came down to the wire.
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