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Defense Dominates Bucs, But It's Not Enough

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Gregg Williams' message to his players after the Dallas game on Nov. 18 was clear: learn from the 28-23 loss to the Cowboys, but put it in the rear-view mirror and move on.

The defense, and in particular the secondary, responded last Sunday in Tampa Bay.

Washington lost a tough 19-13 battle to the Buccaneers, but the defense did everything it could to give the Redskins a chance.

The defense caught a break early when Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia left the game early in the first quarter with a back injury. He was replaced by Bruce Gradkowski, a second-year player.

Gradkowski led a Tampa Bay offense that beat the Redskins 20-17 last year, so the Redskins had a bead on his tendencies. They watched film of that game last week in preparation for the game.

Gradkowski struggled, completing 9-of-19 passes for 106 yards. He was removed in the fourth quarter. As the Redskins closed the gap on the Bucs' first-half lead, head coach Jon Gruden went back to Garcia.

The Redskins' defense was put in difficult situations time and again in the first half, but the unit kept the game close, allowing one touchdown and four field goals.

In the second half, the defense was nothing short of dominant. The Redskins shut down Tampa Bay's offense, forcing them into four 3-and-outs and allowing no first downs.

The Buccaneers totaled just 15 offensive yards in the second half.

Overall, the Redskins' defense limited Tampa Bay to just 192 total yards, 93 passing yards, nine first downs and one third-down conversion in 12 attempts.

Andre Carter, Chris Wilson and Marcus Washington each logged sacks.

Washington's sack in the fourth quarter helped force a punt, giving the Redskins the ball back with a chance to win.

The offense could not come through, though.

Once again, the Redskins' secondary was without Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor, who remains sidelined with a knee injury.

With Taylor out against Dallas, the defense yielded three deep passes for touchdowns to Terrell Owens and the Cowboys.

Reed Doughty started for Taylor, but it was LaRon Landry who served as the free safety. Doughty played strong safety and recorded a team-high eight tackles. Landry finished second with six tackles.

The longest pass play the Redskins allowed was 20 yards.

Williams was complimentary of Doughty last week, saying that he expected the second-year defensive back to improve after he struggled in Dallas.

"First start to second start, and really first year into the second year, you see a big jump," Williams said. "You have to go through a learning curve with the understanding that [offenses] are going to pick on you.

"Then you have to understand some of the veteran players you go up against. Those are some of the things that Reed has to go through."

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