The Washington Redskins' defense throttled the inept Tampa Bay Buccaneers today while the offense contributed just enough points for a 10-0 victory in a sloppily played contest.
The Redskins sacked Tampa quarterbacks 10 times, intercepted three passes and did not allow the Bucaneers inside their 15-yard line. Eddie Brown also set an NFL record with 11 punt returns.
Mark Moseley's 44-yard field goal and a six-yard touchdown run by Mike Thomas supplied the Redskins all the points they needed for their third victory in four starts.
The Redskins meet the undefeated Cowboys next Sunday in Dallas, with first place in the NFC's Eastern Division on the line.
The Redskins scored two of the first three times they had the football, but' had to settle for a 10-0 lead at intermission after two costly fumbles by tailback Calvin Hill ruined excellent opportunities.
A 28-yard punt rturn by Eddie Brown, due mostly to a crunching block thrown by Rusty Tillman on Tampa's Randy Johnson, gave the Redskins excellent field position on the Bucanneer 47.
A 15-yard pass from Kilmer to Charley Taylor pushed the ball to the 32, byt the drive stalled and Mark Mosely' came on to kick a 44-yard field goal' with 10:10 left in the first quarter.
The Redskins got the ball back two minutes later and drove 57 yards in seven plays to a touchdown. Mike' Thomas scored on a six-yard run behind a potent block by fullback John Riggins.
Kilmer passes of 15 yards to Frank Grant and of 26 to tight end Jean Fuggett that carried to the Bucs' six preceded Thomas' touchdown run with 5:23 left in the first period. Mosely's extra point gave the Redskins a 10-0 lead.
It appeared as if a rout was on, but the teams began exchanging turnovers at an alarming rate. There was one rather sorry stretch when Hill lost a fumble at the Tampas Bay 28, followed by an Anthony Davis fumble on the next play that gave the ball back to the Redskins at the Bucs'41.
Hill's second fumble came midway through the second period on a wicked hit by Tampa linebacker Richard Wood. But recovered in the end zone.
Hill was carrying the ball on a second and seven from the Tampa Bay 10-yard line when he lost the ball.
The Buccaneers were having their own problems moving against a Redskin defense that sacked quarterback Randy Hegberg three times in the first quarter and held the Bucs to a minus-33 yards passing in the period, and minus 31 for the half.
The Bucs managed only one first down in the first half and a total offense of 25 yards through the first two periods.
The Redskins' most entertaining play of the day came on the final play of the half. Ken Houston intercepted a Huff pass at the Redskin 49. He ran back to the Tampa Bay 20, then lateraled to Gerald Williams.
Williams then tried to lateral to Eddie brown, but the ball squirted to loose and was recovered by Redskins corner-back Joe Lavender. He managed to return it to the Tampa Bay 20 before being tackled by the Bucs' Larry Mucker as the clock ran out.
The Redskins botched another excellent scoring chance on their first possessions of the third period.
A 19-yard pass from Khmer to Fuggett moved the ball to the Tampa Bay 26, and an 11-yard pitch over the middle to Larry Jones three plays later gave the Redskins a first down at the 13.
On first down, Charley Taylor dropped a pass at the four. On second down, Jones did. On third down, the Redskins were called both for illegal motion (Mike Thomas) and holding (George Starke). The Bucs took the holding call, pushing the ball back to the 23.
From there, Kilmer tried to hit tailback dropped the ball and Mosley came out to attempt a 40-yard field goal. His kick was wide to the left, and Tampa Bay took over at the Tampa 23.
The Bucs finally began moving the football on their next possession. Huff hit Gray Butler with a 21-yard pass at the left sideline. Anthony Davis burst loose for a 31-yard gain, and the Redskins were penalized five more yards when Mike Curtis was called for holding on the play.
But Tampa Bay bogged down at the Redskin 19, and lost a chance to score when Allan Leavitt's 36-yard field goal attempt was wide to the right.
The Redskin defense played second half without linebacker Chris Hamburger, who sprained his left knee in the first half.
The Bucs gave their crowd another life when Cedric Brown intercepted a Kilmer pass. But he fumbled the football fighting for extra yards and Starks recovered for the Redskins at the Tampa Bay 48, the orginal line of scrimmage.
The third period ended with the Redskins still ahead, 10-0.
The Redskins did manage to get a first down at the Buc's 35 after a 12-yard Riggins run. The drive stalled and Mosely came on again.
This time, reserve quarterback Joe Theismann, the holder, picked up the ball and tried to get the six yards necessary for a first down. He was caught from behind by Jeris White a yard short of the first down, and Tampa Bay took over at its 26.
The Redskins killed that drive when Lavender intercepted a pass intended for Morris Owens at the 50-yard line with 12:05 left in the game.