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DEFENSIVE LINE Tampa Bay's defense set the tone for Sunday's game vs. Washington early. This unit was led by defensive lineman Greg White, who made several splash plays throughout the contest. On the second offensive series of the game, White tackled running back Clinton Portis on a second-and-15 play and forced him to fumble. That allowed Bucs safety Tanard Jackson to recover the loose ball at the Redskins' 19-yard line. That led to kicker Matt Bryant's 35-yard field goal. On the second play of the second quarter White pressured quarterback Jason Campbell and forced him to fumble by hitting his throwing arm. That play allowed defensive lineman Kevin Carter to recover the ball at the Redskins' 18-yard line. The turnover led to Bryant's 27-yard field goal, which put the Bucs up 13-0 in the second quarter.
White wasn't perfect, though, as he had a costly missed tackle on tight end Chris Cooley's 20-yard reception that put the Redskins on the Bucs' 25-yard line. That play eventually led to a 43-yard field goal for the ‘Skins in the second quarter. White was also called for being offsides on a third-and-9 play in the third quarter. The penalty was declined since wide receiver Keenan McCardell hauled in a pass for the first down anyway on the play.
White finished Sunday's game with four tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. His fumble recovery came on the second series of the second quarter when Bucs safety Jermaine Phillips hit Portis and forced him to fumble. White jumped on the loose ball and recovered it at the Redskins' 32-yard line. That led to Bryant's 48-yard field goal, which put the Bucs up 16-0.
Washington rushed 31 times for 120 yards (3.9 avg.). Portis rushed 20 times for 68 yards (3.4 avg.) and had two costly fumbles. Backup RB Ladell Betts' 16-yard run in the fourth quarter was Washington's longest run play of the game.
With White receiving a ton of reps at right end, Bucs rookie Gaines Adams' reps came mostly at left end. He notched three tackles and nearly had a sack on Campbell on a third-and-10 play midway through the second quarter. However, Campbell eluded Adams, who tripped himself up on the play, and managed to throw the ball out of bounds near the sideline before Adams could get to him.
Bucs defensive tackles Jovan Haye and Chris Hovan were active against the run. They recorded six and four tackles, respectively. Haye drilled Campbell on a second-and-9 pass play on the first series of the third quarter. The pass fell incomplete and Campbell fell to the turf in pain. The Redskins had to use a timeout after Haye's hit on Campbell.
In addition to his fumble recovery, Bucs LE Kevin Carter came up huge on a third-and-7 pass play from Tampa Bay's 13-yard line in the fourth quarter by sacking Campbell. That sack halted Washington's 12-play, 36-yard drive that was capped off by a Redskins field goal. Carter notched two tackles, four quarterback hurries and one sack, which put him over 100 career quarterback takedowns.
Washington's offense produced 412 yards and converted 9-of-17 (53 percent) of its third down attempts vs. Tampa Bay. The majority of that production came in the second half on third down plays when the Bucs defense got fatigued due to the fact that Tampa Bay's offense couldn't sustain drives and the defense, which had two sacks, seven quarterback hurries and four forced fumbles, had trouble getting itself off the field on third down.
LINEBACKERS The majority of Washington's running plays attacked the perimeter vs. Tampa Bay. The Bucs defense had great pursuit, especially in the first half, when the Redskins rushed 10 times for just 21 yards (2.1 avg.). The second half proved to be a different story as Washington rushed for 99 yards on 21 carries (4.7 avg.) due to the fact that Tampa Bay's defense could not get itself off the field on third downs and the offense failed to sustain drives.
Tampa Bay weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks led the team in tackles with 12. His pass coverage wasn't perfect through, evidenced by Campbell's 39-yard touchdown pass to Cooley on a third-and-9 play at the beginning of the third quarter. Campbell's pass sailed right over the heads of Brooks and Buchanon and into Cooley's arms for the score. That touchdown capped off a nine-play, 73-yard drive. However, Brooks rebounded big late in the third quarter when the Redskins decided to go for it on fourth-and-inches from the Bucs' 3-yard line. Brooks fought a block off on the play and stuffed Portis in the backfield for a 1-yard loss to give the Bucs offense the ball and preserve Tampa Bay's 19-10 lead.
Bucs middle linebacker Barrett Ruud recorded 10 tackles, which was second on the team in that category. On the third offensive series of the game in the first quarter, Ruud raced into the backfield and stuffed wide receiver Antwaan Randle El on an end around for just a 1-yard gain. On the same series, Ruud blitzed and drilled Campbell to force an incomplete pass and punt.
Tampa Bay strongside linebacker Cato June, who was arrested Monday and charged with driving under the influence, started Sunday's game. He was solid against the run and fairly reliable against the pass. June finished Sunday's game with five tackles.
Cooley finished Sunday's game with a team-high six receptions for 96 yards and one touchdown.
SECONDARY Tampa Bay's secondary came up with several key turnovers vs. Washington en route to the Bucs' 19-13 win.
The turnover frenzy began on the first play of Washington's first offensive series of the game. Campbell completed a short pass to wide receiver Santana Moss near the right sideline on that play, but cornerback Phillip Buchanon forced Moss to fumble, which allowed rookie safety Tanard Jackson to recover the loose ball on the Redskins' 19-yard line. That turnover led to a three-play, 19-yard drive that was capped off by running back Earnest Graham's 1-yard touchdown run, which put the Bucs up 7-0.
Jackson came up huge again on the next series when defensive end Greg White forced Portis to fumble the ball on a running play, allowing Jackson to dive on the ball and recover it at the 19-yard line. That turnover led to Matt Bryant's 35-yard field goal, which put the Bucs up 7-0. While he trailed Cooley on a 24-yard reception on the third series of the game, Jackson still had an outstanding game, notching six tackles, one pass defensed and two fumble recoveries.
Bucs strong safety Jermaine Phillips joined the turnover party in the second quarter when he forced Portis to fumble. That play allowed White to recover the ball at Washington's 32-yard line. That turnover led to Bryant's 48-yard field goal, which put the Bucs up 16-0.
Tampa Bay's defense had good coverage in the first half, where cornerback Ronde Barber had two passes defensed. Barber defended another pass, which was intended for Cooley, midway through the third quarter. However, the Redskins began to pick on Barber and pick apart Tampa Bay's secondary in the second half, though. Barber allowed WR Keenan McCardell to pick up a first down on a third-and-3 play midway through the third quarter with Barber in on coverage. On the same drive, Barber allowed WR Reche Caldwell to haul in a 13-yard pass from Campbell to the Bucs' 37-yard line. On the very next play Campbell attempted to throw a quick out toward the right sideline for Moss, but Barber jumped in front of the throw and picked it off at the 31-yard line. That interception was Barber's 32nd career pick, which put him in front of Donnie Abraham as the all-time leader in that category. Barber finished Sunday's game with four tackles, three passes defensed and one interception.
Barber's partner in crime, CB Brian Kelly, might have had the biggest turnover of the game. With Tampa Bay leading Washington 19-13 and the Redskins on the Bucs' 16-yard line with 25 seconds remaining in the contest, Campbell attempted to throw the game-winning touchdown pass to Moss, but the ball was underthrown, which allowed Kelly to pick it off in the end zone to preserve the win. Kelly notched one tackle, one pass defensed and one interception, which was Tampa Bay's sixth turnover of the game, on Sunday.
Bucs CB Phillip Buchanon and Brooks allowed Cooley to haul in a 39-yard touchdown pass from Campbell on a third-and-9 play at the beginning of the third quarter. That score capped off a nine-play, 73-yard drive. Buchanon had a mixed outing throughout Sunday's game. He nearly intercepted Campbell on a deep pass down the right sideline for Moss in the fourth quarter. In the same quarter, Buchanon was flagged for pass interference after Caldwell hauled in a pass for a first down anyway on the 16-yard line. The Redskins eventually settled for a 36-yard field goal on that drive. Buchanon finished Sunday's game with eight tackles and two passes defensed.
Campbell completed 30-of-49 passes for 301 yards and threw one touchdown and two interceptions. Caldwell and McCardell, who killed the Bucs on third downs today, combined for 11 receptions for 103 yards. Tampa Bay held Moss to five catches for 37 yards. The Redskins had 412 yards of offense and converted 9-of-17 (53 percent) of their third down attempts vs. the Buccaneers.
SPECIAL TEAMS Tampa Bay kicker Matt Bryant was the team's most effective weapon vs. Washington. He drilled all four of his field goal attempts vs. the Redskins. His field goals were from 35, 27, 48 and 39 yards out respectively. After Bryant's 48-yarder in the second quarter, his ensuing kickoff fell short, landing at the 25-yard line. That allowed the Redskins to return the ball to their own 40-yard line. However, that appeared to be the only mistake in Bryant's otherwise perfect performance.
Bucs punter Josh Bidwell had an outstanding game vs. the Redskins. He averaged 50.4 yards per punt on seven attempts. Bidwell pinned three of his punts inside Washington's 20-yard line. His longest punt of the game was a 61-yarder.
Wide receiver Maurice Stovall was impressive as a gunner. He notched two open field tackles on Bidwell punts. Fullback Byron Storer also recorded two special teams tackles.
Bucs guard Arron Sears was called for a false start penalty on Bryant's first field goal attempt in the first quarter. That forced Bryant to kick from 35 yards out, but he still made it.
Kick returner Michael Spurlock averaged 23.5 yards per return on two attempts. His longest was a 24-yarder.
Bucs punt returner Phillip Buchanon's 9-yard return with 1:33 remaining in the second quarter put the offense on the 50-yard line. Tampa Bay eventually ended that drive with a 48-yard field goal. Wide receiver Ike Hilliard muffed a punt late in the first quarter. Luckily for Hilliard and the Bucs, safety Will Allen recovered the loose ball at the team's own 15-yard line.
COACHING Bucs head coach Jon Gruden's playcalling went ultra-conservative when he lost starting quarterback Jeff Garcia to a lower back injury on the first offensive series of the game. Tampa Bay's offense proved to be ineffective with backup QB Bruce Gradkowski in the starting lineup. Washington's defense stacked the box and dared Gradkowski to beat them with his arm. Gruden called some good plays to make the Redskins pay for that gamble, but they didn't play off as Gradkowski displayed an inaccurate arm and suspect decision-making process. As a result, Tampa Bay's offense produced just 192 yards and converted just 1-of-12 (8 percent) of its third down attempts vs. Washington. Garcia re-entered the game in the fourth quarter, but he only saw two series due to the defense's inability to get itself off the field.
Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's unit struggled down the stretch as it appeared to be exhausted due to the fact that the offense couldn't sustain drives and the defense couldn't get itself off the field on third down, where the Bucs allowed the Redskins to convert 9-of-17 (53 percent) of their attempts. However, the defense also produced a whopping six turnovers, which led to 16 of Tampa Bay's 19 points on Sunday.
Tampa Bay special teams coach Richard Bisaccia's unit continues to play exceptionally well despite losing several key contributors to injuries throughout the 2007 season.
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