With Bucs' injuries, curse of the Redskins opponents lives on

Updated: October 8, 2003, 8:11 PM ET

ASHBURN, Va. -- When the Washington Redskins play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, it's the Buffalo Bills who should beware.

That's because the Bills play the Redskins next week and Washington's opponents this season almost always turn up beset by key injuries.

So the Bills might consider petitioning the NFL to wear full body armor for their game against the New York Jets. Quarterback Drew Bledsoe should hide a rabbit's foot in his uniform for luck. Owner Ralph Wilson should make sure his players' insurance is paid up.

It's known as the curse of the Redskins.

"I don't know what it is," linebacker LaVar Arrington said, "but we have been running into a lot of teams that have been injury-ridden."

No kidding. Arrington used to complain that the Redskins never get any breaks, but that's hard to swallow these days. Just the ask the Jets, Falcons, Giants, Patriots, Eagles -- and now the Buccaneers.

"Hello. How's it going? Real quick, I'll update our injury status," were the first words out of Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden's mouth during his conference call Wednesday with Washington reporters.

Gruden then ran down a list of nine names, the aftermath of the Bucs' Monday night loss to Indianapolis. Fullback Mike Alstott is out for the season. Joe Jurevicius is out this week, and fellow receiver Keyshawn Johnson is "very questionable." Cornerback Brian Kelly probably won't play, while linebacker Shelton Quarles is a 50-50 call. Charles Lee had to be re-signed just to give the team a full complement of receivers.

"Quite honestly, it's hard to produce a game plan not knowing the status of so many players who have played key roles," Gruden said. "It'll be a great challenge to see if we can overcome that."

That's the story the Redskins have heard since opening day.

"Everybody's got injuries," safety Matt Bowen said. "We've just been on the lucky side."

Consider:

-- Week 1: The Jets came to town without quarterback Chad Pennington, who broke his wrist in preseason. New York got just 158 total yards in the Redskins' 16-13 victory.

-- Week 2: Atlanta didn't have Michael Vick, out with a broken leg. The Falcons led 17-0 before the Redskins rallied for a 33-31 win.

-- Week 3: The Giants were the healthiest team the Redskins have played yet; their chief deficiency was merely that they had to start two rookies on the offensive line. Like Tampa Bay, New York was coming off a tough Monday loss, but they beat Washington 24-21 in overtime.

-- Week 4: The Patriots were missing nine opening-day starters, including three linebackers. Two offensive linemen made their first NFL starts, and quarterback Tom Brady had a sore elbow. Somehow New England lost by only three, 20-17.

-- Week 5: The Eagles didn't have the three Pro Bowl players in their secondary, yet coach Steve Spurrier's offense managed only 171 yards passing until the final two drives of the game. Philadelphia held on, 27-25.

Conversely, while other teams have been taking roll call in the trainer's room, the Redskins have been relatively unscathed. Guard Dave Fiore's two-game rest for his sore knee is the closest thing to a serious injury so far this season.

"We've had pretty healthy teams," Spurrier said. "We've been very fortunate."

That about sums up why the Redskins are the most frustrated 3-2 team around. The stars have been aligned in their favor, yet they haven't taken full advantage.

"Obviously, we're not undefeated, so it's not making that much of a difference," Arrington said. "If you're in the NFL, you can play. Who cares if somebody's out? Somebody's there to step in."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index