TAMPA, FLA., AUG. 29 -- Tampa Bay quarterback Steve DeBerg's four-yard touchdown pass to running back James Wilder with 1:43 remaining beat the Washington Redskins, 17-10, in a preseason game at Tampa Stadium. But that wasn't the worst thing that happened to the Redskins tonight.
Three Washington starters -- running back George Rogers, tight end Clint Didier and defensive tackle Dave Butz -- were injured seriously enough in the first half not to return to the game. Rogers, who gained 37 yards in four sparkling carries at the very beginning of the game, reinjured his sprained left big toe, producing more swelling, he said.
Coach Joe Gibbs said he was "concerned" about Rogers' availability for the regular season opener Sept. 13. Gibbs said he planned to talk to Rogers and team doctor Charles Jackson to see "what we need to do to get him healthy."
Didier pulled his left hamstring tackling Buccaneers cornerback Vito McKeever after an interception early in the second quarter. "He felt it pop a couple times," said tight end coach Rennie Simmons. "We'll just take it day by day. I'm not making any predictions, but Clint has had a history of hamstring problems."
Butz was kicked in the left calf, Gibbs said. Butz had some spasms but his injury didn't appear to be as worrisome as Rogers' and Didier's.
As if the injuries weren't enough, Gibbs had other things on his mind after this game, played before 63,845 on a rainy night.
The Redskins offensive line, which is supposed to be new and improved, seemed unable to protect quarterback Jay Schroeder. And Schroeder did not look good, missing several open receivers. The Redskins special teams allowed a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 48-yard kickoff return by Bobby Futrell. And long snapper Jeff Bostic, holder Schroeder and kicker Jess Atkinson combined to botch a 34-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter, Atkinson's first official miss as a Redskin.
Even the winning touchdown was set up by the last of many Redskins mistakes, a snap from Bostic fumbled by backup quarterback Mark Rypien. That gave the ball to the Buccaneers at the Washington 22 with 2:52 left. Running back Bobby Howard gained 14 yards, then Wilder ran twice for four yards before DeBerg's winning pass.
"We were not very good tonight," Gibbs said. "I think the whole team struggled. They just flat whipped us."
The Redskins were moving toward a score in the last minute, but rookie running back Timmy Smith was stopped short on fourth down and inches at the 50-yard line with 44 seconds left.
The startling loss left the Redskins with a 2-1 preseason record with one game remaining, against the Los Angeles Rams at Anaheim, Calif., next Saturday night. The Buccaneers improved to 2-1.
Rypien led the lethargic Redskins to their only touchdown in his first three plays midway through the fourth quarter. He completed a 34-yard pass to wide receiver Derek Holloway on his first play from scrimmage, leading to a 33-yard touchdown run by Smith to tie the game at 10 with 6:19 to play.
Donald Igwebuike had kicked a 52-yard field goal with 8:27 left to put the Buccaneers ahead, 10-3.
The Buccaneers took a 7-3 halftime lead on Futrell's punt return with 17 seconds left in the half. Futrell broke past Redskins punter Steve Cox near the 50 and breezed into the end zone, providing the most stunning play of an otherwise poor first half.
"That was unacceptable," said Washington special teams coach Chuck Banker.
Atkinson's 37-yard field goal with 5:56 remaining in the first half after Tampa Bay fumbled on its 21 gave the Redskins their only lead, 3-0.
Little seemed to go well for the Redskins tonight. Schroeder, who played more than three quarters, completed 15 of 30 passes for 190 yards. He was sacked twice and pressured often. Rypien went four for six for 72 yards. Doug Williams, who asked not to play against his old team, did not.
"I could have been a lot better," Schroeder said. "They came up with some pretty good pressure. I didn't really get some of my deep passes out there like I wanted to."
But for pure frustration, consider Rogers' fate. He played just three minutes after missing the first two games because of his sprained toe. He ran for 19 yards on his debut carry, then, after a one-yard gain, he broke for eight more on the third play of the game.
Three plays later, Rogers was finished for the night. He ran over the right side for nine yards, but, as he pushed off on his left foot, he felt his toe "bend back again."
Rogers originally injured the toe Aug. 4 in the second day of practice. Gibbs expressed concern that Rogers might not be in game shape for the regular season opener if he didn't play in this game. But it's now uncertain what his status will be for the last preseason game and the first game against Philadelphia. Rogers, however, did not second-guess the decision to play him.
The Redskins had other problems early. Schroeder fumbled the snap from center Russ Grimm on the play after Rogers' nine-yard run.
Late in the first quarter, the Buccaneers drove from their 20 to the Washington 15. Rookie kicker Greg Davis attempted a 32-yard field goal, but it was blocked by Redskins linebacker Monte Coleman.
Schroeder threw an interception in the Redskins' next possession. He badly overthrew tight end Don Warren and instead found McKeever's waiting arms. McKeever had just fallen down and was getting up. He caught the ball at the Tampa Bay 46-yard line and returned it to the Washington 23, where Didier was injured.
At that point, prize rookie Vinny Testaverde entered the game. There was nothing about his first few plays to write home about. After an illegal motion penalty and a loss of two yards by running back Dan Land, Testaverde threw an incompletion and then was sacked for a 15-yard loss by defensive end Charles Mann. Testaverde played the second and third quarters and completed six of 13 passes for 105 yards and one interception, that by cornerback Tim Morrison.
By the third quarter, the Redskins still had trouble getting their act together. Morrison's interception of Testaverde snuffed out one Buccaneers' drive and gave the Redskins the ball at their 14.
But after momentary success, the Redskins came up empty again.
Running back George Rogers, sprained left big toe; defensive tackle Dave Butz, bruised left calf; tight end Clint Didier, pulled left hamstring; cornerback Tim Morrison, bruised right calf; center Jeff Bostic, sprained left shoulder; center Ray Hitchcock, pulled right hamstring; strong safety Alvin Walton, sprained left wrist.