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Best and Worst

Monday, September 13, 2004; Page D14

Best Anticipation: Coach Joe Gibbs's first meaningful game with the Washington Redskins in 12 seasons. A host of new offensive threats. A rejuvenated defense with the anticipated debut of Sean Taylor. And fans tailgating at 9 a.m. There hasn't been this kind of excitement for a football game in D.C. since, well, Gibbs's last opening day.

Best Attendance: An announced crowd of 90,098 set a franchise record for a Redskins game at FedEx Field. The crowd noise reached a fever pitch late in the fourth quarter, after Matt Bowen sacked Tampa Bay's Brad Johnson on a safety blitz. That forced Tampa Bay to punt and helped the Redskins preserve a 13-10 lead.


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Worst Start: Wide receiver Rod Gardner began the season with another case of the drops, letting a sure completion bounce off his hands on the Redskins' first play from scrimmage.

Best Recovery: But on the next play, Gardner showed the kind of catch-and-run skills the Redskins expect. He caught a short pass in the flat, then dragged a defender with him to the first-down marker.

Best Run: It didn't take long for Clinton Portis to announce his presence. Acquired in the offseason in a deal that sent cornerback Champ Bailey to the Broncos, Portis immediately won over the Redskins faithful with a 64-yard touchdown run the first time he touched the ball.

Worst Hands: The Redskins caught a break early in the second quarter when Bucs wide receiver Joey Galloway dropped a sure touchdown in the right corner of the end zone. Galloway had gotten behind the defense, and Johnson's throw was on his hands. But the brittle wide receiver couldn't secure the ball and left the field limping.

Best Strip: Bowen came on a blitz late in the first quarter and batted the ball loose from Johnson when he arrived. Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin recovered, and the Redskins took over at the Tampa Bay 34-yard line.

Worst Bounce: The Redskins had pressure on Johnson, whose throw midway through the second quarter was tipped by linebacker Antonio Pierce. But the ball floated into the hands of Bucs tight end Ken Dilger for a one-yard gain.

Best Defense I: The Redskins, with new de facto defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in charge, yielded 10 yards of offense to the Buccaneers in the first quarter thanks to an aggressive approach that included a variety of blitz packages.

Best Defense II: Cornerback Fred Smoot prevented what would have been a first down in the second quarter by knocking the ball from Michael Clayton as the rookie wide receiver tried to gather the pass.

Best Adjustment: With quarterback Mark Brunell flushed out of the pocket minutes before halftime, Gardner altered his pattern and got a step ahead of cornerback Mario Edwards. Brunell threw the pass high, and Gardner elevated for the catch and a first down.

Worst Exchange: The Redskins averted great misfortune as halftime was approaching when center Lennie Friedman delivered a poor snap that went through Brunell's legs. Fortunately for the Redskins, running back Chad Morton dove on the ball.

Best Discipline: At the end of the first half, the Redskins had two penalties for 15 yards. That isn't good enough for Gibbs, whose ideal number is zero, but a blip when compared to the Steve Spurrier years, when the Redskins at times committed two penalties in one series.

Worst Footing: Brunell slipped as he pulled away from center late in the third quarter, causing a muffed exchange to Portis. Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber picked up the ball and ran nine yards for the tying touchdown.

Worst Lull: Seemingly headed for a career performance after 105 yards in the first half, Portis stalled to three yards in the third quarter as the Buccaneers' defense began to clamp down.

Best Interception: Pierce, starting in place of injured Mike Barrow, stepped in front of Johnson's pass intended for Tim Brown and set up the Redskins at the Bucs 39 early in the fourth quarter.

-- Gene Wang


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