Sunday, December 12, 2010

Buccaneers vs. Redskins: Washington Blows Tying Extra Point in Final Seconds

LANDOVER, Md. -- Washington scored on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb to Santana Moss with nine seconds left, but Hunter Smith couldn't handle Nick Sundberg's high snap on the subsequent extra point try and Graham Gano never got the chance to force overtime.

The Bucs were overrun by Washington's Ryan Torain during the first half. They didn't lead until the final four minutes, but the young playoff contenders hung in there and pulled out a 17-16 victory over the Redskins at cold and wet FedEx Field to keep their playoff hopes alive.            

Tampa Bay improved to 8-5 and ended a two-game losing streak, thanks to Josh Freeman's 41-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kellen Winslow, who beat linebacker Rocky McIntosh with just 3:37 remaining. Freeman ran in the two-point conversion.

The Redskins fell to 5-8 with their third straight loss and wasted a terrific first half by Torain, who didn't waste any time showing that his long-ailing hamstring was finally healed on Sunday. Torain, sidelined since halftime of Week 8, raced 54 yards down the sideline in front of the Washington bench en route to the most prolific first half by an NFL running back in more than five years -- when Tiki Barber tore the Redskins apart.

Torain, whose 121 yards in the first quarter hadn't been topped in more than nine years, finished with 173 yards on 24 carries.

However, the Redskins (6-7) made the game closer than it should have been with three red-zone miscues in the first half. Gano hit the left upright on a 34-yard field goal attempt and then was wide left with 24 yards.

Then in the final minute of the half, the Redskins were called for delay of game after a timeout, forcing them back five yards and switching a likely running play at the 2 into a pass from the 7 that fell incomplete. Gano pushed a 25-yarder through on the next play to make it 10-3 Redskins at halftime.

The Redskins had run for just 103 yards during their losses to Minnesota and the New York Giants the past two weeks.

Some thoughts on the game:

• Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who came into the game tied for second in the league with six interceptions, dropped a potential pick in the first half and was beaten for a 64-yard catch by Bucs rookie Arrelious Benn (a Washington native). However, Hall rebounded to prevent Freeman's third-down throw into the end zone three plays later, forcing Tampa Bay to settle for a field goal. Hall had also raced to knock the ball out of LeGarrette Blount's hands from behind and also recovered the fumble at the Washington 46.

• Benn made another huge play, a 43-yard catch to the Washington 1 early in the fourth quarter, but Freeman bobbled the snap on the next play and Washington's London Fletcher recovered the ball in the end zone.

• Bucs rookie defensive tackle Gerald McCoy injured a biceps in the first quarter. It was quickly announced that the third pick in April's draft wouldn't return, leading to suspicion that he's done for the year after notching 27 tackles and three sacks in 13 starts.

• Washington's Chris Wilson fumbled Connor Barth's short second-half kickoff and Tampa Bay's Adam Hayward recovered at the Washington 34. The Bucs closed within 10-6 on Barth's 44-yard field goal four plays later.

• Gano's 24-yard miss came at the same end of the field as the 23-yard shank against the Saints last December that cost more proven predecessor Shaun Suisham his job.

Will Montgomery, who has supplanted veteran Artis Hicks at right guard for Washington, was flagged for a false start on the first snap, but then Torain made up for that mistake with the 54-yard run, Washington's longest of the season.

• Bucs linebacker Barrett Ruud stuffed Torain for a 4-yard loss at the Tampa Bay 4 early in the second quarter, three plays before Gano's 24-yard gaffe.

• Redskins rookie Logan Paulsen who made his first NFL catch last week, scored his first touchdown on Sunday, a 1-yard toss from McNabb on fourth-and-goal in the second quarter. The throw made McNabb the first Washington quarterback with a touchdown pass in 12 straight games since Joe Theismann in 1984.

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