Week 4: Redskins at Bucs

September 30, 2012

Welcome to Week 4 of the Redskins live blog, where we’ll continue to discuss the second half with Washington ahead, 21-6, lead on the strength of quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris. Griffin has 145 passing yards, 26 rushing and scored on a five-yard run, and Morris has 75 rushing yards with a 39-yard touchdown run. Boxscore

[liveblog]

Week 4 is a wrap … and goes down as a 24-22 Redskins win

The Redskins are 2-2 after a truly odd trip to Tampa that began with a pregame collision that knocked both Aldrick Robinson and Brandon Meriweather out of the game. Robinson most likely has a concussion, Meriweather will have an MRI on his knee, Coach Mike Shanahan said. The takeaway from the game? Unlike the previous two weeks, the Redskins left Tampa with a 24-22 win on a Robert Griffin III fourth-quarter drive complicated by a malfunctioning headset. And, when it mattered most, Billy Cundiff came through with a field goal. Shanahan professed to be happy with Cundiff, but we’ll see if any kickers come through Ashburn this week.

RGIII on what Rex Grossman told him, headset issues

Robert Griffin III stopped in the tunnel leading to the locker room and did a little Griffining with a fan before heading in to talk to reporters after the Redskins’ 24-22 win.

On what he was thinking before the final drive:

“We knew we had to get within field-goal range, we needed to just get to the 30-yard line. Before the play I was talking to Rex [Grossman] on the sideline [at this point, he smiles broadly]. It was before they kicked their field goal and he was saying, ‘You want him to make this so you can lead the team down the field and get us a win.’ I was looking at him like, ‘Yeah, but I also want him to miss this field goal.’ It was ironic that he said that and we went and did it. It was a lot of fun for us to go out there and win a game the way we did.”

Problems with the headset on the final drive gave him a boost of confidence:

“It felt great. The whole drive was a little complicated. In practice every week, we always practice me calling the plays in two-minute [drills], acting as if the headset has gone out. The funny thing is the headset did go out on that drive. That’s why I was having to run back and forth to the sideline. I had to call a couple of my own plays and we moved the chains and got in field-goal range so it was very neat how that practice situation, that practice scenario played out in the game. Hopefully, you don’t want that to happen, but it was pretty cool.” 

He estimated that he and Kyle Shanahan each called about half the plays on the drive. “Normally, I don’t call my own plays. I trust my offensive coordinator that he knows what he’s doing in those situations. But it both looked like what we were doing collectively.” 

On gaining confidence each week, even when the late drive doesn’t bring a win (like last week):

“You try to rise to the occasion. Thinking of a movie called ‘The Replacements,’ they said great players want the ball in their hands when it’s crunch time. It’s funny that I just quoted that movie [lots of laughter], but it’s also funny that’s that’s how it really is. It’s true. You want the ball in your hands. When something has to happen, you make it happen.”

On reducing his number of carries and, consequently, the amount of abuse he took (seven carries for 43 yards): 

“I didn’t get hit as much this game as I did the last game. That’s how it goes sometimes. I train with [safety] Mark {Barron] and he got me with a good hit there early in the game. It’s illegal — that’s not my fault — but it was a good hit. For the most part I didn’t get hit too hard or too often or just being on the ground for no reason. So it was a good job by the offensive line, good job by the plays that we ran, dessigning to get the ball out of my hand and when I did have the ball in my hand for those deeper drops, we did a good job hitting the checkdowns and going through all the reads.”

 

Shanahan on Cundiff, RGIII, the 4th quarter, the collision

Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan’s comments on the team’s 24-22 victory over the Buccaneers in Tampa…

On Billy Cundiff, who’d whiffed all day, getting to try a game-winner:

“I was just hoping he could keep focused. After he missed the last one, I told him not to worry about it, [that it] was going to come down to a game-winner and it did. He did a great job of concentrating and making the field goal.”

On Robert Griffin III:

“He did a great job, kept his poise in there [at the end. I thought he played a heck of a football game throughout. A lot of focus, a lot of concentration. That's what you've got to have in your quarterback, a lot of poise there in the fourth quarter. Especially on that last drive, [he] made some big-time plays.”

On the last two losses and the difference this time:

“Every game is big. You take a look at the last two games and we found a way to not win ‘em, the last two. This one, we found a way to win it. We had a chance to put it away early. In the second half offensively we stopped ourselves on every drive. … You can’t stop yourself and expect to win and that’s what we did. We stopped ourselves a number of times with those 15-yard penalties. We were moving the football, but we gave them a chance. Then we missed that one fourth-and-two and took away some points there. You’ve got to play better. It’s always nice to come back and do the things we did at the end of the game and fine a way to win.”

On the pregame collision that sidelined both Aldrick Robinson and Brandon Meriweather:

“Aldrick had a concussion; he was out for about a minute or so. And Brandon Meriweather … will have an MRI on his knee. He’s quite sore. Obviously, neither one could play. … Both were ready to go and were just warming up; they had no idea [they were going to collide]. I’ve never had that in my coaching career to have two guys go out in pregame. Luckily it was more than the hour and a half before you put in your 46 players.” 

Redemption for Billy Cundiff in 24-22 win

After missing three field goals, place kicker Billy Cundiff booted a 41-yard field goal with seven seconds to play, and the Redskins rallied for a 24-22 win after blowing a 21-3 lead. The Redskins moved to 2-2 thanks also Robert Griffin III’s poise on the final drive to set up the winning field goal try. Washington amassed 474 total yards, and Griffin threw for 323 yards and ran for 43 yards and a touchdown.

Bucs take 22-21 lead with with 1:42 to play

Bucs place kicker Connor Barth made his third field goal, this from 47 yards, and 25th in a row overall with 1:42 to play to give Tampa Bay a 22-21 lead. Barth also made kicks from 57 and 50 yards. Billy Cundiff, meantime, has missed three field goals for the Redskins.

Mike Shanahan challenges spot

Did Robert Griffin III get the first down on the third-and-10 run? Apparently Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan feels it’s close enough to challenge. It appeared Griffin stepped out with 3:50 to play and did not reach the first-down marker. Stay tuned.

Buccaneers pull to 21-19 in fourth quarter


Redskins place kicker Billy Cundiff has missed three field goals against Tampa Bay. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

 The Buccaneers apparently figured out throwing to Vincent Jackson with cornerback DeAngelo Hall in coverage is a good offensive strategy. Jackson twice beat Hall on deep passes, and the Bucs finished off the drive with LaGarrette Blount coming off the fantasy scrap heap for a two-yard scoring run. Tampa Bay missed the two-point conversion, but momentum clearly is in its corner.

Third quarter takeaway: Letdown on defense, penalties on offense

After holding the Bucs in check for the better part of three quarters, the Redskins’ secondary had one of their familiar lapses, allowing Tampa Bay to go 85 yards on five plays to cut the lead to 21-13.

 On the first play of a possession that began at the Tampa 15, Josh Freeman completed a 65-yard bomb to Mike Williams, who beat Josh Wilson up the sideline for the big gain. Four plays later Freeman’s pass to Vincent Jackson pulled his team within eight points.

 The offense went stagnant in the third quarter, however.

 Penalties on Will Montgomery (clipping) and Pierre Garcon (offensive pass interference and unnecessary roughness) hampered the Redskins’ efforts.

 Washington dominated the clock (10:57 to 4:03) but converted only one of three third-down attempts and didn’t score a point.

Billy Cundiff misses third field goal

Redskins place kicker Billy Cundiff isn’t having a good day at the office. He just missed his third field goal, this from 31 yards and his shortest attempt of the game, preventing the Redskins from extending the lead. Cundiff also missed from 57 and 41 yards.

Mike Pereira makes the call…

On the trickeration pass play, Mike Pereira, the former head of officiating for the NFL, tweets:

Legal play or not?

Officials are reviewing whether the Redskins had two forward passes on one play. The pass from Brandon Banks to Robert Griffin III was right on the cusp of being a pass instead of a lateral. What are your thoughts?

Bucs cut lead to 21-13 in third quarter

The Redskins’ leaky secondary got exposed when wide receiver Vincent Jackson found a seam and caught a seven-yard touchdown between cornerback DeAngelo Hall and safety Madieu Williams to draw the Bucs to 21-13 with 1:56 to play in the third quarter. The other big play during the drive was a 65-yard completion to wide receiver Mike Williams.

Pierre Garcon pulls Ronde Barber to ground


Ronde Barber (20) and Pierre Garcon get tangled on way to ground. (Associated Press)

Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon was running a sideline pattern and trying to gain separation from safety Ronde Barber, but the two got tangled, and Garcon began tugging at Barber’s right arm as they fell to the ground.


Officials ruled offensive pass interference and Barber came up holding his shoulder but came back into the game.

Redskins defense continues to shine

The Redskins entered the game with an injured and maligned defense, but today that unit is keeping the clamps on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Quarterback Josh Freeman has 115 passing yards, and no Bucs running back has more than 17 yards. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has a sack and has batted down a pass, and cornerback DeAngelo Hall has an interception in keeping big-play wide receiver Vincent Jackson mostly in check.

Second quarter takeaway: Defense continues to hold up, Garcon helping out

The Redskins defense continues to hold up, limiting the Bucs to just 54 yards of offense in the second quarter.

Washington’s defense has been able to get to Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman and pressure him into getting rid of the ball more quickly than he would’ve liked. Freeman completed only four of 13 pass attempts in that second quarter. He also threw an interception to DeAngelo Hall, who now has 35 picks for his career. With the interception, Hall moved into sole position of sixth place on the active interceptions list.

The takeaway, along with strong coverage and more sure tackling from Washington’s defensive backs (and some help by some errant Freeman throws), has the Redskins looking more like the unit that they hoped they would field this season.

Meanwhile, Washington’s offense continues to click. The Redskins gained 145 yards and scored two touchdowns in the second quarter. They also had 10 first downs in the quarter.

Pierre Garcon had a 20-yard catch in the quarter, but his presence is being felt in other areas. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said this week that he expected the Redskins to rack up more first downs thanks to Garcon being on the field even if he doesn’t touch the ball. Because of the threat he poses, the Bucs have to account for Garcon, and that means they’re devoting less attention to other players. Leonard Hankerson has been wide open, and in the second quarter, he had three catches for 30 yards, including a long of 21. Not all of those catches came with Garcon on the field. But having him back is indeed helping. The Redskins also continue to run the ball effectively as Alfred Morris now has 11 carries for 75 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown.

With this 75-yard rushing performance, Morris joins Larry Brown (1972), John Riggins (1983), George Rogers (1986), Ernest Byner (1991) and Terry Allen (1996) as the only backs to rush for at least 75 yards in each of the first four games of the season.

Adam Carriker on the Redskins’ first half

While everybody else turns to Ryder Cup during halftime, Adam Carriker, who’s on the injured reserve list, tweets from sick bay:

Bucs’ Connor Barth makes 57-yard field goal


Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman has struggled in the first half against the Redskins. (Associated Press)

Place kicker Connor Barth boots a 57-yard field goal to draw Tampa Bay to 21-6 with 1:55 to play. Barth has made 24 consecutive field goals and has been the only source of offense for the Bucs, who have failed to establish much of anything in the passing game.

Redskins keep Josh Freeman off-balance

Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman has had time to throw, but the former first-round draft pick has been mostly off-target. He has missed wide open receivers on several plays, and his decision making has been questionable at best against one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL. It figures to get worse for Freeman with the Bucs down 18 points and having essentially to abandon the run.

Alfred Morris rips off 39-yard touchdown run


Running back Alfred Morris scores on a 39-yard touchdown for a 21-3 lead. (Getty)

Off a pitch in the backfield, rookie running back Alfred Morris broke through the line of scrimmage for a 39-yard touchdown run to give the Redskins a 21-3 lead with 5:15 left until halftime. It was the longest run of the season for Washington, which has 85 rushing yards in the first half.

Robert Griffin III hard counts confound Bucs


Robert Griffin III helps Redskins expand lead to 14-3 with a rushing touchdown in the second quarter. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Robert Griffin III twice drew the Bucs offside on third down to help extend drives, and the rookie finished off the drive himself with a five-yard run with 7:26 to play to give the Redskins a 14-3 lead. It was Griffin’s fourth rushing touchdown, tying the franchise mark for a quarterback shared by Eddie LeBaron and Joe Theismann.

Redskins fail to capitalize

Place kicker Billy Cundiff misses a 41-yard field goal with 12 minutes to play until halftime, and the Redskins are unable to take advantage of an unnecessary roughness call assessed to rookie safety Mark Barron for slamming Robert Griffin III on a tackle early in the series. Do you think the call should have been made?

 

RGIII continues to take his lumps

Robert Griffin III continues to take a beating — and relishes it. The same cannot be said for Redskins fans and observers.

 

First quarter takeaway: Stops on defense, balance on offense lead to 7-3 lead

TAMPA, Fla. — Through three games, the Washington Redskins’ much-maligned defense has struggled in two key areas: limiting teams on third down, and eliminating big plays. Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Redskins managed to deny the Bucs on two of three third-down conversion attempts, and Washington surrendered only one pass play of 20 yards.

That helped the Redskins keep the Buccaneers in check, holding them to three points in the first quarter. That was a marked improvement over last week, when Washington gave up 14 points in the first quarter against Cincinnati.

On offense, the Redskins continue to give their opponents different looks. After running the bulk of their plays out of the shotgun for the first three weeks, Washington came out with a traditional two-back, I-formation look. Robert Griffin III has only one carry, but is four-for-five passing for 58 yards. His lone carry was an eight-yard draw play. Griffin got hit hard high and low on the play and fumbled at the one-yard line, but Pierre Garcon recovered the ball in the end zone for Washington’s first touchdown of the game.

The Redskins were able to string together a seven-play, 75-yard drive to take the lead at the end of the first quarter. Alfred Morris paced the team with four carries for 21 yards, and Griffin spread the ball around to five different receivers.

Redskins take 7-3 lead

Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon, in his first game back since a foot injury in Week 1, fell on the ball in the end zone after Robert Griffin III fumbled at the goal line, and Washington took a 7-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.


It appeared Griffin may have broken the plane of the goal line, but official scoring credited Garcon with the touchdown.

 

Alfred Morris getting room to run


Robert Griffin III is happy to use running game if Bucs keep safeties off line of scrimmage. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

With all the attention on Robert Griffin III in the passing and running game, the Bucs seem to have neglected Alfred Morris. The rookie tailback has been moving the chains with bursts up the middle and getting to the second level. The Redskins certainly are happy to lean on Morris for short and medium runs if the Bucs elect to keep their safeties back to prevent a big play.

Bucs take 3-0 lead

Connor Barth made a 50-yard field goal with 4 minutes 42 seconds to play in the first quarter to give the Bucs a 3-0 lead. Tampa Bay got into field goal range on a five-yard reception from D.J. Ware on third and eight that included several missed tackles. Linebacker Rob Jackson also had a missed tackle earlier in the drive.

No pressure on Josh Freeman

The Redskins have been getting zero pressure against Josh Freeman, who’s been able to survey the field at his leisure to find Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. It’ll be a long day for the Redskins secondary if the front seven can’t get to Freeman.

It’s “dog cussing” hot in Tampa today


Robert Griffin III warms up, something that’s easy to do today in Tampa. (Margaret Bowles / AP)

It’s extraordinarily hot in Tampa. How hot is it?

Nearly 100 degrees’ worth of hot on the field during pregame warmups, Comcast’s Tarik El Bashir reported.

So hot that Mandi Lichtensteiger tweeted: “Oh man.. Just saw the hubby walking back from warming up. Drenched in sweat. I bet he’s dog cussing that heat.”

Dog cussing? Somehow, that sounds about right. Maybe the white pants will help.

Getting Hankerson, Davis more involved


Fred Davis, left, Santana Moss have not been heavily involved yet in passing game. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

We’ve all seen what Robert Griffin III can do with his feet and in the passing game, but the rookie has yet to develop a consistent trust with top receiving tight end Fred Davis or emerging wide receiver Leonard Hankerson. Last week Griffin and Davis appeared to be growing more comfortable with one another, and Hankerson will continue to get his share of targets as long as Pierre Garcon is ailing. No better time than today to get both players heavily involved against the league’s lowest rated pass defense.

Fantasy focus: Redskins at Bucs

Robert Griffin III has become a go-to fantasy player over the first three games this season, and there’s no reason to think that will change against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers are allowing the eighth most fantasy points per game (23.7) to quarterbacks. The Redskins, meantime, have statistically the second worst pass defense in the NFL behind the Bucs and are allowing quarterbacks 29.2 fantasy points per week, so Josh Freeman is upgraded based on this matchup. WR Vincent Jackson is a must-start, and Mike Williams is a sleeper flex with big upside in deeper leagues.

Robinson, Meriweather collide during pregame warmups

The Post’s Mike Jones reports WR Aldrick Robinson and S Brandon Meriweather ran into one another during pregame warmups. Not exactly the way the Redskins wanted to go into today’s game against Tampa Bay. Stay tuned for updates.

Gene Wang is a sports reporter covering multiple beats, including Navy football, the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, women’s basketball, auto racing, boxing and golf. He also covers Fantasy Football.
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Mike Jones · September 30, 2012