Here are four takeaways from the Redskins’ 16-3 win over the Buccaneers:
The Bucs beat themselves: Tampa Bay dominated the game by nearly every statistical measure, especially in the first half, when it entered the red zone on three of its first four possessions and controlled the ball for almost 20 minutes. The Buccaneers outgained the Redskins 501-286 in the game, finished with five red zone trips and still finished with only three points. That’s really, really hard to do. Toward the end of the game, Fox’s broadcast team reported that no team dating back to at least 1960 had managed at least 480 yards of total offense and scored three or fewer points in a game. Tampa Bay’s futility might be even more impressive than that. According to Pro Football Reference, the 2011 St. Louis Rams are the only other team dating back to 1940 to eclipse 400 total yards of offense and be limited to a field goal or less. Two of the Buccaneers’ four red zone trips ended in Ryan Fitzpatrick turnovers. Two others culminated in Chandler Catanzaro missed field goals, including one toward the end of the third quarter when a botched snap got by Fitzpatrick and turned what would’ve been a chip shot into a 48-yard attempt.
The Redskins played well enough to win: Washington’s defense deserves some credit for capitalizing on and creating several of Tampa Bay’s miscues. Josh Norman ended Tampa Bay’s first possession with a leaping interception at the goal line that sailed over the outstretched arms of Fitzpatrick’s intended receiver. Early in the fourth quarter, after a Josh Doctson touchdown reception gave Washington a 13-3 lead, Greg Stroman stepped in front of a pass intended for O.J. Howard for his first career interception. With Tampa Bay nearing the red zone on its next possession, Redskins linebacker Ryan Anderson borrowed a technique from Norman and punched the ball out of Jacquizz Rodgers’s grasp after a long catch-and-run. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix recovered it in the end zone. Preston Smith sealed Washington’s win with a sack-fumble of Fitzpatrick near the goal line that Ryan Kerrigan recovered with less than four minutes to play. The Redskins’ defense gave up large chunks of yards at times, but it also had a role in limiting an offense that entered the game averaging more than 28 points to one measly field goal.
Patchwork offensive line does its job: Bill Callahan’s unit was far from perfect, but considering Redskins starting left guard Jonathan Cooper was literally sitting on his couch at this point last week, Washington’s offensive line performed admirably in the win. With Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao all out with injuries, Ty Nsekhe, Cooper, Chase Roullier, Tony Bergstrom and Morgan Moses held their own. For the most part, they kept the pocket clean for Alex Smith, who was sacked three times, and did a decent job blocking for Adrian Peterson and Kapri Bibbs, who combined for 96 yards on 22 carries. It helped that the Redskins were going up against one of the worst defensive fronts in the league, and the offensive line will face a much stiffer challenge next week against J.J. Watt and the Texans, but it was a performance to build on as the new guys get more and more comfortable working alongside each other.
A win is a win, but issues remain: The Redskins are 6-3 for the first time since 2008 and will remain all alone atop the NFC East entering Week 11. Still, their offense has to find a way to score more points and their defense has to do a better job of getting off the field on third down. Smith was 19 for 27 for 178 yards and a touchdown, and missed a wide open Vernon Davis on one of his few shots downfield. The best thing one can say about Smith’s performance, outside of when he threaded the needle to Doctson for his lone touchdown pass, was that he didn’t turn the ball over. That was enough on Sunday, but it likely wouldn’t have been against a team that displayed even the slightest bit of competency in the red zone. The Redskins’ defense buckled down somewhat after missing multiple tackles in a sloppy first half, but the Buccaneers still converted 6 of 10 third downs in the game and Fitzpatrick was only sacked twice.
Game updates and analysis
Final: Redskins 16, Buccaneers 3
It wasn’t pretty, but the Redskins took advantage of four Tampa Bay turnovers to improve to 6-3 for the first time since 2008.
Buccaneers commit another red zone turnover: Tampa Bay has taken red zone futility to a new low. On first and goal from the Redskins’ two-yard line after an 80-yard drive, Mike Evans dropped a touchdown in the end zone. One play later, Preston Smith knocked the ball loose from Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Kerrigan recovered. That’s two turnovers and a pair of missed field goals in five red zone trips for the Buccaneers. (Redskins 16, Buccaneers 3, 3:30 4th Quarter)
Redskins burn some clock: Washington picked up a couple of first downs and took more than four minutes off the clock before Tress Way pinned Tampa Bay at its 13-yard line with another solid punt. It’ll take some serious Fitzmagic for the Buccaneers to overcome their 13-point deficit, but there’s still time and Tampa Bay has all three of its timeouts. (Redskins 16, Buccaneers 3, 6:11 4th Quarter)
Ryan Anderson ruins another Tampa Bay drive with forced fumble: The Buccaneers should avoid the red zone at all costs until further notice. Tampa Bay’s latest turnover won’t count as a red zone turnover, but it should be noted that Redskins linebacker Ryan Anderson punched the ball free from Jacquizz Rodgers’s grasp just as the Buccaneers running back crossed the Washington 20-yard line. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix recovered the fumble — Tampa Bay’s third turnover of the game — in the end zone. (Redskins 16, Buccaneers 3, 10:56 4th Quarter)
Redskins settle for a field goal, 16-3 lead: A holding penalty on Morgan Moses put Washington behind the chains after Tampa Bay’s turnover. Alex Smith completed a nine-yard pass to Michael Floyd to set up third-and-short, but facing pressure, Smith threw the ball away and Dustin Hopkins came on to kick his third field goal (Redskins 16, Buccaneers 3, 12:03 4th Quarter)
Interception gives Washington the ball right back: Greg Stroman stepped in front of a pass intended for O.J. Howard on Tampa Bay’s first play from scrimmage after Josh Doctson’s touchdown catch, giving the Redskins excellent field position at the Tampa Bay 14-yard line. (Redskins 13, Buccaneers 3, 13:59 4th Quarter)
First touchdown of the game gives Washington a 13-3 lead: At long last, someone found the end zone. It was Redskins wide receiver Josh Doctson, who caught a bullet from Alex Smith in the back of the end zone after the quarterback bought time with his feet. Doctson now has a touchdown reception in consecutive games. Washington has a 10-point lead. (Redskins 13, Buccaneers 3, 14:07 4th Quarter)
Another blow to the offensive line?: Left tackle Ty Nsekhe is questionable to return with an ankle injury. Rookie Geron Christian is in the game as his replacement. (Update: Nsekhe returned. Christian is now questionable to return with a knee injury.)
Buccaneers can’t get out of their own way: For the fourth time today, Tampa Bay moved into the red zone after Ryan Fitzpatrick picked apart the Redskins’ banged-up and inexperienced secondary. For the third time in those four trips, the Buccaneers failed to score. On third-and-seven from the Washington 16-yard line, a snap over Fitzpatrick’s head cost the Buccaneers 14 yards. Chandler Catanzaro’s ensuing 48-yard field goal attempt wasn’t close, preserving Washington’s three-point lead. (Redskins 6, Buccaneers 3, 4:08 3rd Quarter)
Redskins use a timeout, punt on first possession of second half: Facing third-and-one on the third play of the third quarter, Redskins Coach Jay Gruden called a timeout. We’ll see if he regrets that later. Adrian Peterson picked up the first down running behind Ryan Anderson out of the timeout, but three plays later, the Redskins were forced to punt after Josh Doctson ran a 13-yard comeback route on third-and-14. Tress Way, who deserves Pro Bowl consideration for the way he’s punted this season, flipped the field with a 58-yard boot that was downed at the Tampa Bay 4-yard line. (Redskins 6, Buccaneers 3, 11:03 3rd Quarter)
Halftime: Redskins 6, Buccaneers 3
Tampa Bay outgained Washington, 279-136, in the first half, but it’s the Redskins who have the advantage on the scoreboard at the break. Josh Norman’s leaping interception at the goal line to end the Buccaneers’ first drive and a missed 30-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro are the difference. After a promising start, Adrian Peterson was bottled up by the Tampa Bay defense and limited to 18 yards on five carries. While Washington hasn’t gotten the running game going, the patchwork offensive line deserves some credit for not allowing a sack in the first half. That’s worth noting in what has been an ugly game.
Redskins take 6-3 lead: Dustin Hopkins’s 43-yard field goal capped an 11-play, 50-yard drive before halftime that was nearly doomed by a costly penalty and dropped pass. A holding penalty on Jonathan Cooper negated a 40-yard gain on a screen pass to Kapri Bibbs and Michael Floyd dropped what should’ve been a 20-yard completion that hit him directly in the hands later in the drive. Floyd made up for his drop with a tip-toeing catch along the sideline, and the Redskins did enough to move Hopkins into field goal range. (Redskins 6, Buccaneers 3, 0:20 2nd Quarter)
Tampa Bay ties the game with short field goal: The Buccaneers finally have some points to show for all of their yards. Chandler Catanzaro capped a nine-play, 63-yard drive with a 33-yard field goal just before the two-minute warning. Matt Ioannidis helped force Tampa Bay to settle for three points with a sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the red zone. That brings Ioannidis’s team-leading sack total to 7.5. (Redskins 3, Buccaneers 3, 2:03 2nd Quarter)
Redskins go three-and-out: Alex Smith and the offense have failed to find a rhythm against the NFL’s 29th-ranked defense. Smith is 5 for 7 for 43 yards after Washington’s latest drive, which featured a false start penalty on Jordan Reed and yet another failed conversion on third-and-long. The Redskins are 0 for 3 on third down; the Buccaneers are 3 for 5. (Redskins 3, Buccaneers 0, 5:58 2nd Quarter)
Buccaneers miss short field goal to preserve Redskins’ lead: Washington’s defense hasn’t been able to slow down Tampa Bay’s pass-happy offensive attack, but the Buccaneers have done a solid job of stopping themselves. Ryan Fitzpatrick is 10 for 14 for 114 yards already, but Tampa Bay has no points to show for it after Chandler Catanzaro missed a 30-yard field goal wide right. Two plays earlier, Fitzpatrick scrambled for what should have been a first down inside the Redskins’ 10-yard line, but two yards short of the sticks, Fitzpatrick inexplicably made a hard left turn and was tackled while failing spectacularly to beat a horde of defenders to the sideline. (Redskins 3, Buccaneers 0, 8:33 2nd Quarter)
Dustin Hopkins gives Redskins 3-0 lead: The Redskins’ patchwork offensive line has looked pretty impressive thus far. On Washington’s second drive, they helped clear the way for gains of 16 and 15 yards, respectively, by Adrian Peterson and Kapri Bibbs. Peterson has already rushed for more yards (20) than he did in all of last week’s game (17). The Redskins’ scoring march, which also included a 24-yard completion to Jordan Reed, culminated with a 43-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins. Remember, Washington is 5-0 when scoring first this season and they’ve yet to experience a lead change. (Redskins 3, Buccaneers 0, 0:10 1st Quarter)
Replay overturns Tampa Bay’s wild third-down conversion: The Buccaneers appeared to have converted a third-and-19 when Ryan Fitzpatrick somehow avoided a sack, scrambled seven yards past the line of scrimmage and attempted a lateral pass to Adam Humphries, who picked up the remainder of the necessary yardage. Redskins Coach Jay Gruden wisely challenged the call on the field and replay review revealed that Fitzpatrick’s apparent lateral was clearly an illegal forward pass. The penalty resulted in a loss of down and a Tampa Bay punt. (Redskins 0, Buccaneers 0, 4:31 1st Quarter)
Redskins’ first possession ends with a punt: Washington began its first drive from its own 32-yard line after Josh Norman’s interception return. Adrian Peterson totaled five yards on his first two carries before Alex Smith threw incomplete to Jordan Reed on third down. (Redskins 0, Buccaneers 0, 8:49 1st Quarter)
Josh Norman ends Tampa Bay’s scoring thread with red zone interception: The Buccaneers won the toss, elected to receive and proceeded to gash the Redskins’ defense on their opening drive. Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was 3 for 3 for 41 yards, including completions to three different receivers, before overthrowing Bobo Wilson in the red zone. Redskins cornerback Josh Norman capitalized on the mistake by making a leaping interception at the goal line, which extended the Redskins’ NFL-best streak of games with at least one turnover to 13. The Buccaneers’ five red zone turnovers this season are the most in the league. (Redskins 0, Buccaneers 0, 10:30 1st Quarter)
Cornerback Quinton Dunbar and linebackers Zach Vigil and Pernell McPhee are among the Redskins’ inactives. Right tackle Morgan Moses will play against the Buccaneers.
The weather in Tampa couldn’t be better.
Okay, so the players would probably prefer it to be a little cooler at field level.
Washington Redskins (5-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)
Kickoff: 1 p.m., Raymond James Stadium
TV: Fox | Radio: 630, 980 AM; 92.7, 94.3, 105.9 FM
Line: Buccaneers by 3.5
The Redskins and their banged-up offensive line look to put last week’s blowout loss to Atlanta behind them in sunny Florida. The Buccaneers’ 29th-ranked defense could be just the cure for what ails Washington’s passing offense, which has struggled to establish any consistency in quarterback Alex Smith’s first year at the helm. It won’t help that slot receiver Jamison Crowder will miss his fifth consecutive game with an ankle injury and wide receiver Paul Richardson is out for the season. Washington might once again lean heavily on running back Adrian Peterson, who was limited to 17 yards rushing against the Falcons.
While Tampa Bay’s defense is atrocious, the Buccaneers’ offense will provide a tough test for a Redskins defense that allowed Atlanta to convert 11 of its 14 third downs last week. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the NFL’s top-ranked passing offense, and Tampa Bay is averaging 28.6 points per game, eighth-most in the league. The Buccaneers’ biggest weapons include DeSean Jackson, who hasn’t gone over 100 yards receiving since Week 4 but always seems to play well against his former teams, and fellow wide receiver Mike Evans. The last time these two teams met, in 2015, Kirk Cousins led the largest comeback in franchise history. This year, the Redskins haven’t been involved in a single lead change, so it’s probably best that they avoid falling behind early.