1:00 PM ET, November 25, 2007
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Four fumbles in 16 plays and two interceptions with the game on the line.Tampa Bay's defense ensured the NFC South-leading Buccaneers would enhance their chances of returning to the playoffs, while the mistake-prone Washington Redskins took another step in the other direction."This is our time of the year," Bucs cornerback Brian Kelly said Sunday after his first interception of the season sealed a 19-13 victory. "This is what we do. We come up big this time of the year."Ronde Barber became Tampa Bay's all-time interceptions leader with 3:40 remaining. Kelly picked off Jason Campbell's throw in the end zone with 17 seconds left to guarantee the Redskins (5-6) their third straight loss.The Bucs (7-4) also recovered four fumbles in a span of 16 Redskins' offensive plays to set up a touchdown and three field goals in the first half. They held on for their third straight victory despite being outgained 316 yards to 15 and not making a first down after halftime."To start the game off like that, it's hard to explain," said Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, who watched Santana Moss and Clinton Portis lose fumbles on two of Washington's first three plays."You're not going to beat a real good football team when you turn the ball over like that. We put ourselves in such a mess. ... I'm proud of our guys the way they came fighting back in the second half."Tampa Bay played most of the day without quarterback Jeff Garcia, who hurt his back on the first play and remained on the sideline until Washington pulled within a touchdown in the fourth quarter.Garcia's injury was described as a lower back bruise that the Bucs didn't feel would worsen if he went back into the game. His return didn't spark the offense, however that wasn't a problem with the defense delivering big play after big play."If you look at the stats, you'll see that they had something ridiculous like 300 yards in the second half," Barber said."That's something we'll look back on and not be too happy about. But we'll also look at the way we finished, and we always talk about finishing football games, and to have two turnovers to stall the [potential winning] drives, we'll be happy about that."Campbell led the Redskins' comeback from a 19-3 halftime deficit. A week after setting career highs for attempts (54), completions (33) and yards (346) in a close loss to Dallas, the second-year pro was 30-of-49 for 301 yards.Barber's 32nd career interception stopped one Washington threat at the Tampa 31. The Redskins had marched from their 7 to the Bucs 16 before Kelly broke in front of Moss in the closing seconds."It's tough to swallow, three losses in a row. We've got to put them behind us as soon as possible," said Campbell, who marched the Redskins to the Dallas 19 before throwing an interception in the closing minutes of a 28-23 loss the previous week."It's frustrating. Both games we came from behind and put ourselves in position to make some plays," added Campbell, who rallied the Redskins with a 39-yard TD pass to Chris Cooley and Shaun Suisham's 38-yard field goal. "You want to finish off the game."The Bucs built their halftime lead on Earnest Graham's 1-yard touchdown run and four field goals by Matt Bryant.Garcia was injured after scrambling for a 1-yard gain and being tackled by Cornelius Griffin. He left two plays later and didn't return until just over 11 minutes remained in the fourth quarter."I thought the offense needed a spark," said Garcia, whose earlier attempts to return were rejected by Gruden, who is optimistic the 37-year-old quarterback will be able to play next week at New Orleans.In addition to six takeaways, Tampa Bay's defense stopped Portis on fourth-and-inches from the Bucs 5 late in the third quarter and Washington trailing 19-10.If Gibbs had gone for a field goal at that point, Campbell may not have needed to get his team into the end zone at the finish.Garcia was replaced by second-year pro Bruce Gradkowski, who started 11 games as a rookie after Chris Simms suffered a season-ending spleen injury.His inexperience was one of the reasons the Bucs finished 4-12 for their worst record since 1991, and his inability to take full advantage of Washington's miscues kept the Redskins in the game Sunday.Tampa Bay settled for field goals after two fumbles by Portis and a third by Campbell, who was stripped on a sack by Greg White early in the second quarter. Bryant's 48-yard field goal on the last play of the half made it 19-3."I don't think it's on Jason. It's on us. We've got to make plays," Moss said of the interceptions at the end."It's hard to be a quarterback in this league. It's hard to be a quarterback on a team like we have when you have so much potential ... and you keep coming up short."
Gradkowski was 9-of-19 for 106 yards and no interceptions. Garcia was 2-of-4 for 9 yards. ... The Bucs had 177 yards total offense to Washington's 96 in the first two quarters, but wound up being outgained 412-192. ... With Antwaan Randle El slowed by a hamstring injury, Keenan McCardell returned punts for the Redskins.
The Redskins may have shut out the Buccaneers in the second half, but turnovers kept them from winning. The hard-hitting, veteran Tampa Bay defense used its base 4-3 scheme to cause four fumbles and two interceptions, both of which came in the fourth quarter when the Redskins were driving. Despite Washington more than doubling the Bucs in total yards, the bend-but-don't-break Tampa 2 zone scheme enabled the Bucs to play poorly on offense and still win.
-- Ken Moll, Scouts Inc.
Team Stat Comparison
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||5.0||3.8|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|TD||10:00||Earnest Graham 1 Yd Run (Matt Bryant Kick)||0||7|
|FG||06:27||Matt Bryant 35 Yd||0||10|
|FG||12:28||Matt Bryant 27 Yd||0||13|
|FG||10:13||Matt Bryant 48 Yd||0||16|
|FG||06:11||Shaun Suisham 43 Yd||3||16|
|FG||00:00||Matt Bryant 39 Yd||3||19|
|TD||10:38||Chris Cooley 39 Yd Pass From Jason Campbell (Shaun Suisham Kick)||10||19|
|FG||11:19||Shaun Suisham 38 Yd||13||19|