No projected starters played for the Redskins in the fourth quarter. The most important development likely was the sustained play of running back Ryan Torain, who missed the first three preseason games with a broken bone in his hand. Torain finished the night with 16 carries for 73 yards, had several nice runs, and – most importantly – remained healthy, all but wrapping up his spot on the team.
Graham Gano kicked his 10th consecutive field goal after Tampa’s Armando Allen Jr. muffed a punt at the Tampa Bay 24, a fumble recovered by Washington’s Keiland Williams. Torain started the drive with an eight-yard gain, but on third down Matt Gutierrez’s pass to Donte Stallworth came up short. Gano’s field goal gave the Redskins a 23-13 lead.
That possession finished Gutierrez’s night. He was replaced by Kellen Clemens on Washington’s next drive, and finished 5 of 12 for 41 yards with one interception.
Tampa quarterback Rudy Carpenter tried to get the Bucs back in it – and win himself a job – by leading the team down to the Washington 4. There, a Redskins defense that, at this point, featured few veteran players – Lorenzo Alexander as an insider linebacker, Kedric Golston on the defensive line – managed to snuff out the drive. On third and goal, rookie linebacker Markus White finished off a fine night by chasing down Carpenter, and Tampa Bay settled for a field goal that made it 23-16.
The Redskins, with Clemens under center, then went three and out, giving Tampa a chance for a tying touchdown. On first down from near midfield, Bucs quarterback Jonathan Crompton looked downfield to receiver Ed Gant. The pass fell incomplete, but cornerback Reggie Jones was called for pass interference. That gave the Bucs the ball at the Washington 20. On the next play, Crompton found Allen in the right flat, and Allen scooted all the way to the end zone for a touchdown that cut the Redskins’ lead to 23-22 with 2:07 remaining.
Not wanting to play overtime, Tampa Bay Coach Raheem Morris went for a two-point conversion. Crompton hit Gant at the front of the end zone for the conversion, and the Redskins trailed for the first time all night, 24-23.
That just gave the ball back to Clemens, who benefited from a roughing-the-passer penalty. On second and 10 from the Tampa Bay 41, Clemens found Stallworth deep down the right sideline, and the veteran wide receiver juggled the ball into his hands for the touchdown that gave the Redskins a 29-24 lead. Clemens threw an interception on a try for a two-point conversion, but the Redskins thwarted Tampa’s last drive and finished the preseason 3-1.
The big news in the third quarter wasn’t who played for the Redskins, but who didn’t. On Washington’s first possession of the half, Matt Gutierrez – who is battling Kellen Clemens for the third quarterback job – took over the offense. Thus, Rex Grossman – who supposedly is battling John Beck for the starter’s job – didn’t look to be in the plans to play in the final tuneup before the regular season.
What, exactly, that meant for the regular season will be left for Coach Mike Shanahan to answer – or, more likely, not answer – after the game. But Gutierrez, who has played with New England and Kansas City, didn’t help his cause early. After finding veteran receiver Donte Stallworth for a 33-yard gain and moving the Redskins to the Tampa 4, Gutierrez rolled right on first down, again looking for Stallworth. But he threw to the corner of the end zone too late, and Tampa’s Devin Holland came up with his second interception of the night.
Gutierrez managed to lead the Redskins to a Graham Gano field goal – the kicker is 9 for 9 on the preseason, and the unquestioned winner of that job – but finished the quarter 4 of 7 for 34 yards and the interception.
The Bucs, though, pulled closer by the end of the quarter on a freakish play. After a clipping penalty put Tampa Bay back at its own 4, quarterback Rudy Carpenter found receiver Ed Gant, who beat reserve Redskins cornerback Reggie Jones. Gant then bounced off safety Davonte Shannon and outran everybody to the end zone, a 96-yard completion that closed the quarter and cut the Redskins’ lead to 20-13.
Brandon Banks opened the quarter showing why he was the Redskins’ most explosive player a year ago. He hauled in a punt at his own 5, burst up the middle, cut to the left sideline – and was gone. Banks returned one kickoff for a touchdown a year ago as a rookie, and had several returns called back.
The play, though, was nearly costly for Banks as well. As he crossed the goal line and began to strut, Banks held the ball out – and flipped it. The play was reviewed, and it was determined that Banks--barely-- held the ball as he crossed the goal line, and the touchdown stood. Banks, who had been chewed out by special teams coach Danny Smith on the sideline, looked relieved.
Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson then came up with an interception on an overthrown ball by Tampa’s Jonathan Crompton, and the Redskins converted that into a 22-yard field goal by Graham Gano, who has not missed this preseason. The Redskins, though, failed to score a touchdown, looking a bit discombobulated with Beck still at quarterback. They failed to get one play off on time, forcing Beck to call timeout.
Running back Ryan Torain made his preseason debut, carrying six times for 22 yards in the quarter, but ceding more playing time to rookie Evan Royster.
Beck, ostensibly in a competition with Rex Grossman for the starting quarterback job, played the entire first half, and though the Redskins led 17-3 at the half, Beck couldn’t take much credit. He finished the half 10 of 21 for 108 yards, and on third down with the Redskins driving late in the quarter, he threw his second interception of the preseason.
That play, however, highlighted an iffy start for Washington’s first-string offensive line. Guard Kory Lichtensteiger allowed the Buccaneers to pressure Beck, who threw off his back foot looking for Niles Paul in the end zone. The pass was picked off by Tampa’s Devin Holland.
That turnover, Washington’s second of the half, led to the Bucs’ only points on a Conor Barth field goal with 17 seconds remaining.
With most of their primary players sitting on the sidelines – never donning shoulder pads at all -- the Redskins took a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. By holding the Bucs scoreless, the Redskins finished the preseason without giving up a first-quarter point in four games.
The big play of the quarter: A sack of Tampa quarterback Rudy Carpenter by reserve outside linebacker Rob Jackson, one of several Redskins trying to stick with the team. Carpenter fumbled the ball, and rookie outside linebacker Markus White scooped it up and returned it all the way to the Tampa Bay 3. The play finished a solid quarter for White, a seventh-round draft pick who is trying to make the team.
After the turnover, rookie running back Evan Royster scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. But the night began in rough fashion for Royster, who had four carries for six yards – and a key fumble on Washington’s second play from scimmage. That led to Tampa Bay’s best scoring chance. But on fourth and goal from the 2, safety Anderson Russell scooted in from the right side and stopped Tampa back Kregg Lumpkin short of the goal.
John Beck started at quarterback and completed 6 of 11 passes for 60 yards. Rookie receiver Niles Paul caught two passes for 27 yards, including a 19-yarder.