Redskins Gameday
Keys to the Game  |  Injuries  |  Redskins Section

By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, Jan. 7, 2006; Page E10

1st Down: Pressure Chris Simms
Chris Simms, a third-year quarterback who entered this season with 467 yards passing, threw for career highs in yards (2,035) and touchdowns (10) and had a career-best passer rating of 81.4. Against the Redskins, he led Tampa Bay on the game-winning drive in the final two minutes. He also hit big plays, averaging 18.6 yards per pass against a defense that has been difficult on young quarterbacks.

2nd Down: Avoid the Shootout

The Redskins have scored 30 points in each of the last three games, but the formula for success has been in controlling the ball. Clinton Portis has rushed for 100 yards in five straight games, and the Redskins are fifth in the league in time of possession. The five-game winning streak was the byproduct of a renewed commitment to the running game.

In the first meeting, Portis ran for 144 yards on 23 carries, but Mark Brunell threw 35 times. He since hasn't thrown as many times in a game. The Redskins have scored points primarily with ball control and exploiting turnovers, not from throwing 35 times.

3nd Down: Protect The Ball

Conventional wisdom dictates that whoever wins the turnover battle usually wins the game. That's especially true in the playoffs.

With the exception of a bizarre first quarter against Arizona, the Redskins have been as stingy with the ball as they have been all season. During the five-game winning streak, they are plus-10 in turnover margin. Tampa Bay finished the regular season at plus-7 in turnover margin, which was tied for ninth in the league.

At a plus-1, the Redskins have the worst turnover ratio of any playoff team other than New England (minus 6). But the Redskins have one thing in common with the Patriots: Both are among the hottest teams in the league.

4nd Down: Beware of Simeon Rice

Brunell is struggling with a sprained right knee. Guard Randy Thomas is out with a broken leg. Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice has 14 sacks and an interception and is one of the most feared rushers in football. Chris Samuels is the Pro Bowl pick charged with the task of stopping Rice, who has recorded 10 or more sacks in five straight years and seven of the last eight.

Questionable: CB Shawn Springs (groin).
Probable: DE Renaldo Wynn (foot).

Out: WR Michael Clayton (turf toe).
Questionable: SS Jermaine Phillips (knee).

© 2006 The Washington Post Company