Washington Redskins defensive end Phillip Daniels, a 10-year NFL veteran, said yesterday some of his teammates might have been better off not peeking at the Raymond James Stadium scoreboard for the final score of the Minnesota Vikings-New York Giants game that ended Sunday just as their game was beginning.
"We had a lot to gain from winning that game," Daniels said. "First place in the division and everything, and I kind of wish we hadn't seen that score." Minnesota won, 24-21.
"I think guys might get complacent and start thinking a little too much about the situation rather than going out and playing the game that's in front of you. . . .We're a young team, and we need to know that we need to stack victories on top of victories and not take one victory and then lose the next one."
Daniels also gave Tampa Bay Coach Jon Gruden credit for going for a two-point conversion to win with 58 seconds remaining, calling it "a gutsy call by him. We blocked the extra point [on a play nullified by a Redskins offside penalty], and he probably figured, 'Man, let's go for it.' Instead of two yards, it was only one."
Daniels said he remains convinced that Buccaneers fullback Mike Alstott, who scored the two points, did not get into the end zone. "I saw his elbow hit before the ball was there," he said. "We all felt like he didn't get in.
"Even when he hit, the ball wasn't across. I saw his elbow hit before the white line. If he's got the ball in his hand, and he was falling backward, how could he get it over the line? But those guys [game officials] are human. You were on the road, too. Did we expect the call to go our way? I don't know. The crowd is in their ears. It's a tough call."
A Fine Line
Running back Ladell Betts said he knew he was flirting with the sideline on his 94-yard touchdown kickoff return -- the first of his career -- and said he still wasn't exactly sure if he stepped out of bounds. The Bucs challenged the play, but it was not overturned by replay because referee Bill Vinovich said there was no "indisputable visual evidence" to change the call on the field.
"The only time I saw the replay was on the big screen in the stadium," Betts said yesterday. "I was hoping it would [stand up]. It looked to me like they saw I was on my toes, and my heel never came down [out of bounds].
"To be honest, at the time I knew I was on the edge. I was surprised when I looked at the screen to see how close it was."
Betts suffered a mild knee sprain against the Bucs, and his status for this week likely will be day-to-day.
Safety Sean Taylor, who was on the game inactive list Sunday with a sprained right ankle, was still wearing a protective walking boot yesterday.
Bubba Tyer, director of sports medicine, said it was too soon to tell when or if he or defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin will be able to practice this week. Griffin, the team's best run-stopping defensive lineman, has missed the last two games and all but two plays against the Giants with a painful hip injury.
Coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday he thought it was "more likely" Taylor would play this week against Oakland than Griffin, but it was still far too early to make an assessment. He also declined to blame the loss on not having two key defensive starters on the field.
"We were comfortable with the two people we had in there," he said. "It's going to happen that you miss front-line players. It would help us to have Cornelius in there. We've been fortunate not to have the big injury this year. But it happens up here."
How They Rank
Linebacker Warrick Holdman, who started the first seven games ahead of LaVar Arrington, did not play a down against the Bucs. . . . The Redskins are still ranked No. 7 in overall defense in the NFL, their standing a week ago. They're now 16th against the rush and No. 9 against the pass. On offense, Washington is 11th overall in the league, No. 8 rushing and No. 15 passing. . . .
Oakland, the opponent Sunday at FedEx Field, is 14th in total offense, 26th rushing and No. 6 passing. On defense, the Raiders are 24th overall, 18th against the run and 23rd against the pass. . . .
Santana Moss is second in the league in receiving yards with 935, two yards behind league-leading Steve Smith of Carolina. He's tied for fourth in receptions with 53, eight behind leader Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona. . . .
Betts's 94-yard kickoff return pushed him to No. 3 in the NFC and sixth in the league in kickoff returns, with a 25.7 yard average per return.