Gameday Graphic for Game on 12/12/2010
The Redskins make the unbelievable a reality and reality unbelievable.
They turn the elemental into the monumental, the rudiments into the ridiculous, a celebration into mortification.
They were ahead and then they were behind. They ran the ball and then they didn't. They seemed to have tied the game, and then they didn't.
At the end, the Redskins' anything-but-special teams altered the try for an extra point into something out of a cartoon. And it wasn't an extra point but a necessary one.
Having scored a touchdown with nine seconds left, the Redskins needed simply to kick an extra point to tie the game. That's all. Kick the point, force overtime, maybe go on to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Not to be. Like the two missed field goals earlier in the game.
Nick Sundberg's snap back to holder Hunter Smith came in high and hot and Smith couldn't handle it. The ball rolled back near kicker Graham Gano and it really doesn't matter who recovered it. No extra point, no tie, no overtime.
Just a 17-16 loss that seemed both improbable and probable.
Improbable because the Redskins unleashed a rushing attack that married the style of running back in Ryan Torain with holes to run through that hadn't been seen in these parts for weeks, months, years. Torain rushed for 158 yards in the first half alone, putting the Redskins in position to score numerous times.
Probable because they didn't score. Donovan McNabb flipped a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Logan Paulsen in the second quarter but by then Gano had already missed a pair of field goals, clanking a 34-yard try off the left upright and yanking a 24-yard try wide left. Let the other team hang around and this is what can happen.
Probable because the Redskins were on the verge of breaking the game open.
Improbable because suddenly, in the second half, the offense faded away and the lead kept shrinking like cheap fabric in the rain. Torain gained only 14 more yards. The Redskins punted every time they had the ball after halftime – and they had it one less time than they should have after fumbling away the second-half kickoff – until they scored on the game's final drive, only to fail, again, on special teams.
"If anything, I just pushed it a little too hard, trying to be too perfect," Sundberg said of his errant last snap.
What is more probable than an extra point, more improbable than botching one to tie the game in the final seconds?
Perhaps it is missed field goals from close-in range. The Redskins can't even get the gimmes.
"I thought they were good both times because of the way I hit them," said Gano. "I was in shock."
Welcome to the club. Four times in the red zone for the Redskins, 10 points.
So a 10-3 lead got gnawed at by this pesky Buccaneers team. From 10-3 to 10-6 to 10-9 and finally they gained a 17-10 advantage. They scored on a 41-yard pass from Josh Freeman to Kellen Winslow with 3:47 left in the game and then Freeman charged into the end zone for a two-point conversion.
The Redskins had opportunities but they failed to get the proper value from them.
"Obviously," coach Mike Shanahan said, "you want to win a game like that. You take control of it, you got some long drives in the first half and you settle for a field goal, instead of a touchdown. You have opportunities, even at the end of the first half, and we had the ball on the 2-yard line and we can't get it in the end zone."
The Redskins didn't score touchdowns. They did not convert their big plays into points, a continuing theme this season. Torain's first carry, in his return from six weeks of dormancy with a hamstring injury, went 54 yards. All the way to the Tampa Bay 35.
The Redskins got as far as the 16, stalled, and sent Gano out. Doink. Off the left upright. Uh oh.
Gano actually made a field goal, of 25 yards. It came just before the end of the first half, when the Redskins and their clock management conspired to create a timeout, then a delay of game penalty when they couldn't get the play in from offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to McNabb on time. They had been at the 2-yard line and another prime chance for a touchdown vanished into the damp mists at FedExField.
The Bucs (8-5) tightened up defensively in the second half. The Redskins simply tightened up. The Bucs, kicking off in the third quarter, sent a squibber toward Chris Wilson, a linebacker, and he muffed it. The Bucs recovered and that set up a 44-yard field goal by Connor Barth. The Bucs forced a three-and-out by the Redskins and Barth kicked another field goal.
The dagger came late in the fourth quarter when Freeman fired 41 yards to Winslow. Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo was so obviously held (without drawing a flag) that Shanahan showed a picture of the play to the officials. To no avail. It never is.
That there was no penalty left Orakpo "very stunned. That was the most blatant one," he said of the many non-calls for holding.
As the game drew to its close, even more confusion reigned. Somewhere, someone recorded a catch by Anthony Armstrong as a 9-yard gain instead of the 10 yards he was awarded on the field. So as the field officials gave the Redskins a first down, most of the world, it seemed, thought the Redskins were now working on their second-down play and, at the end, appeared to score on fifth down.
Even the NFL.com play by play credited the Redskins with two fourth-down plays.
Which would seem to explain why they scored at all. They just need a little of extra time. But no, it was four downs. They scored within the bounds of regulations but then they didn't. At least they didn't score quite enough. Not kicking the extra point is a bit like failing to complete the necessary paperwork. Until it's done, it doesn't count.
So the Redskins went home, stunned, saddened, soaked and sick. Whatever mathematical chances they had at the playoffs certainly grew longer as their record dropped to 5-8 with their third consecutive defeat. They will fail to have a winning record for the third straight season, miss the postseason for a third straight season, try to find a reason for being in December for the third straight season.
Improbable after where they were three weeks ago. All too probable because of what they do and don't do.
That's the Redskins. They make the unbelievable real and the real unbelievable.
The Redskins host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Dec. 12 at FedExField. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET.
FedExField is a natural grass surface. The stadium seats 91,704.
This season, the Redskins are 2-4 in home games, while the Buccaneers -- regarded as one of the surprise teams in the NFL this season -- are 4-2 on the road.
The Redskins, in third place in the NFC East, are coming off a 31-7 loss to the New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium last Sunday. The Buccaneeers lost to the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 in a divisional showdown at Raymond James Stadium.
Three of the Redskins' wins this season have come against teams with an 8-4 record or better.
The Redskins-Buccaneers game will be televised on FOX. Kenny Albert handles the play-by-play with color commentary from Daryl Johnston. Tony Siragusa serves as the sideline reporter.
On radio, the game will be broadcast locally on the Redskins Radio Network. Larry Michael calls the play-by-play with former Redskins and Hall of Famers Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff adding color commentary. Former Redskin Rick 'Doc' Walker reports from the sidelines.
Compass Media Networks will carry the game nationally with Chris Carrino and Brian Baldinger in the booth.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
|WR||89 Santana Moss||19 Mike Williams|
|LT||71 Trent Williams||70 Donald Penn|
|LG||78 K. Lichtensteiger||62 Ted Larsen|
|C||63 Will Montgomery||76 Jeremy Zuttah|
|RG||75 Artis Hicks||73 Derek Hardman|
|RT||77 Jammal Brown||65 Jeremy Trueblood|
|TE||47 Chris Cooley||88 John Gilmore|
|WR||13 Anthony Armstrong||17 Arrelious Benn|
|QB||5 Donovan McNabb||5 Josh Freeman|
|FB||45 Mike Sellers||34 Earnest Graham|
|RB||35 Keiland Williams||27 LeGarrette Blount|
|DE||94 Adam Carriker||96 Tim Crowder|
|NT/DE||96 Ma'ake Kemoeatu||93 Gerald McCoy|
|DE/DT||64 Kedric Golston||90 Roy Miller|
|LB/DE||99 Andre Carter||91 Stylez G. White|
|LB||59 London Fletcher||58 Quincy Black|
|LB||52 Rocky McIntosh||51 Barrett Ruud|
|LB||98 Brian Orakpo||54 Geno Hayes|
|CB||23 DeAngelo Hall||31 E.J. Biggers|
|CB||22 Carlos Rogers||20 Ronde Barber|
|SS||37 Reed Doughty||26 Sean Jones|
|FS||41 Kareem Moore||41 Corey Lynch|
|P||17 Hunter Smith||1 Robert Malone|
|K||4 Graham Gano||10 Connor Barth|
|H||17 Hunter Smith||1 Robert Malone|
|LS||57 Nick Sundberg||48 Andrew Economos|
|KOR||16 Brandon Banks||81 Michael Spurlock|
|PR||16 Brandon Banks||81 Michael Spurlock|
The Redskins and Buccaneers have met 16 times in regular season play since Tampa Bay entered the league as an expansion team in 1976.
The series is tied at 8-8. The clubs also have an even record of 1-1 in postseason play.
Sunday's game is the eighth matchup between the two clubs since 2003.
The last time the two clubs met was on Oct. 4, 2009 at FedExField. The Redskins won 16-13, coming back from an early deficit to score all their points in the third quarter and hold on for the win.
Jason Campbell threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Chris Cooley and a 59-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss, but he also threw three interceptions. London Fletcher, Brian Orakpo and Justin Tryon recorded sacks.
On Jan. 7, 2006, the Redskins defeated the Bucs 17-10 in a Wild Card matchup at Raymond James Stadium. Clinton Portis had a 6-yard touchdown run and Sean Taylor returned a fumble 51 yards for another score. LaVar Arrington and Marcus Washington recorded interceptions in the Redskins' win.
On Jan. 15, 2000, the Buccaneers came back to beat the Redskins 14-13 in a NFC Divisional Playoff game at Raymond James Stadium. Brian Mitchell had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but the Redskins managed just 157 total yards of offense and the Bucs scored in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
TALE OF THE TAPE
|REDSKINS 2010 RANKINGS|
|BUCCANEERS 2010 RANKINGS|
FAMILIAR FACES ON THE BUCCANEERS
Tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts was a coaching intern with the Redskins in 2000.
Wide receivers coach Eric Yarber played wide receiver for the Redskins from 1986-87.
REDSKINS-BUCCANEERS NEWS & NOTES
-- Moss Is Moving Up
Very quietly, Santana Moss is moving his way up the list of all-time Redskins receivers.
Moss has 413 career catches as a Redskin -- including a team-best 64 receptions this year -- and he needs to record two catches to move past Ricky Sanders for fifth place in franchise history.
He could also move past Jerry Smith for fourth place in franchise history this season. Smith finished his career with 421 receptions.
Moss also needs 26 receiving yards to move past Sanders for fifth place in franchise history. Sanders finished with 5,854 career receiving yards.
In terms of NFL marks, Moss has 564 career receptions which is the 77th most in league history. With eight catches, he would jump past Ed McCaffrey (565), Roger Craig (566), Lionel Taylor (567), Mark Carrier (569) and Ernest Givens (571) for 72nd in league history.
Moss also needs one more touchdown catch to become the 101st player in NFL history to record 50 career touchdown grabs.
-- Redskins Suspend Haynesworth
The Redskins have suspended defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth without pay for the team's next four games for conduct detrimental to the club.
Haynesworth was notified of the club's decision this morning by general manager Bruce Allen at Redskin Park.
Redskins' head coach Mike Shanahan issued the following statement:
"Despite the club's numerous attempts to persuade Albert Haynesworth to abide by the terms of his contract, he has repeatedly refused to cooperate with our coaching staff in a variety of ways over an extended period of time. Among other things, he has consistently indicated to our defensive coaches that he refuses to play in our base defense or on first-down or second-down nickel situations. He has also refused to follow the instructions of our coaches both during weekly practices and during actual games as well.
"Yesterday, when Albert was at Redskin Park, he told our General Manager Bruce Allen that he [Haynesworth] would no longer speak with me. Although suspending any player is not a decision that a head coach enters into lightly, I believe the situation has reached the point where the club clearly has no alternative."
-- A New And Improved FedExField
The Redskins have announced new improvements to FedExField for the 2010 season.
Among the improvements to the facility include the installation of new HD video boards, a complete replacement of the stadium's video control room, a new text message traffic alert system, installation of the locker of the late Sean Taylor for viewing on the club level, and club level party decks.
"Everything we are doing is focused on continuing to improve the gameday experience for fans at FedExField," Redskins chief 0perating officer David P. Donovan said. "We believe fans will really feel the impact of these improvements."
The HD video boards are accompanied by eight new digital ribbon boards to provide fans with out-of-town scores, statistics and more, all monitored and operated from a state-of-the-art control room located on the Owner's Club Level.
The improvements allow for simultaneous multi-angle game highlights and replays, game graphics and other high definition content.
"When the stadium was first built, high definition didn't exist at the time in this capacity," Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder said. "So we said, 'Hey, this is a real opportunity,' so we upgraded it...It's important that we keep up with the quality of entertainment. This is really state of the art."
-- Traffic Alerts Via Text Messaging
For the 2010 season, the Redskins are providing traffic alerts via text message, giving fans access to regular updates on the best routes to use to get to FedExField on gameday.
The service provides information on gameday bottlenecks to avoid up until kickoff, as well as announcements on any post-game traffic issues that arise to help fans get to and from the stadium for every home game.
Redskins staff monitor traffic on the Beltway, Landover Road, Arena Drive and Central Avenue to provide up-to-the-minute updates. Fans can opt-in to these alerts by completing the signup form at www.redskins.com/trafficalerts.
The Redskins also have updated route guidance to the stadium to give fans alternatives to Beltway exits 15, 16 and 17, including turn-by-turn guidance so fans from Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia can enter the stadium grounds from the west on either Landover Road or Central Avenue. This information and more can be found online at www.redskins.com/parking.
-- First-Year Redskins Head Coaches
Entering Sunday's game vs. Tennessee, Mike Shanahan is 5-7 in his first season as Redskins head coach.
Looking back at Redskins head coaches in their first season, five have gone on to have winning seasons (excluding Dick Todd, who was 5-4 in taking over three games into the 1951 season.)
Twelve first-year head coaches suffered losing campaigns, including Joe Gibbs's return in 2004. Additionally Herman Ball coached the final seven games in 1949 and finished 1-4, while Terry Robiskie finished 1-2 while coaching the last three games of 2000.
Eight first-year head coaches ended their seasons with a .500 record, including Jim Zorn in 2008.
-- How the Redskins' Roster Was Built
The Redskins have 15 players on the roster that the team drafted, including 2010 first-round pick Trent Williams and 2009 supplemental draft pick Jeremy Jarmon.
Mike Sellers is the longest-tenured Redskins. He had a stint with the Redskins in 1998-2000 and rejoined the team in 2004.
Washington has used unrestricted free agency to acquire 28 players, including Casey Rabach in 2005, Andre Carter in 2006, London Fletcher in 2007, DeAngelo Hall in 2008, Albert Haynesworth in 2009 and Ma'ake Kemoeatu in 2010.
Five Redskins players were acquired as undrafted rookie free agents. This group includes offensive linemen Stephon Heyer and cornerback Byron Westbrook, both local products.
The team has five players on the roster acquired via trade: Santana Moss, Donovan McNabb, Adam Carriker, Jammal Brown and John Beck.
-- First Look At Freeman
A year ago, Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris did not think his rookie quarterback Josh Freeman -- the 17th overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft -- was ready for NFL action just yet.
So in Week 4 against the Redskins, he started Josh Johnson, then a first-year quarterback. Johnson made his NFL debut and threw for just 100 yards against the Redskins.
Freeman has taken the reins of the Bucs' quarterback position this year.
Freeman, who played with Redskins kick returner Brandon Banks at Kansas State, has completed 213-of-365 passes for 2,442 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. His QB rating is 86.4.
He also has good mobility for a quarterback. He has 291 rushing yards on the season.
-- Grimm's Son
Buccaneers free safety Cody Grimm, the son of Redskins great and 2010 Hall of Fame inductee Russ Grimm, was a rookie starter season.
His season came to an end in Week 11 when he suffered an ankle injury.
Grimm finished his rookie campaign with 9-of-11 starts, 53 tackles, two interceptions -- one of which he returned for a touchdown -- and one forced fumble.
Grimm grew up in Fairfax, Va., attended Oakton High School in Vienna, Va., and went to college at Virginia Tech.
He played alongside Redskins offensive lineman Will Montgomery and safety Macho Harris at Virginia Tech.
-- Redskins' Strength of Schedule
The Redskins have the NFL's eighth toughest schedule in 2010, according to the NFL.
The Redskins' opponents this season produced a 134-122 record last year, a .523 winning percentage.
The Houston Texans (.547), Tennessee Titans (.547), Dallas Cowboys (.543), Cincinnati Bengals (.539), Jacksonville Jaguars (.535), New England Patriots (.531) and New York Giants (.527) have tougher schedules.
The Redskins play 11 games against teams who finished .500 or better in 2009. They play seven games against 2009 playoff opponents.
-- McNabb And Big Plays
The Redskins' offense has shown a propensity for big plays this season.
Donovan McNabb has an NFL-best eight pass completions of 50 yards or longer. He also has 11 pass completions of 40 yards or longer, the second-highest total in the league.
Despite being sacked 35 times, the second-highest total in the league, the six-time Pro Bowler is sixth in the NFL with 3,149 passing yards.
He is on pace for 4,199 passing yards this season, which would be the first 4,000-yard passing season of his career. He could set the Redskins' single-season record of 4,109 passing yards by Jay Schroeder in 1986.
-- Going Overtime
The Redskins have played three overtime contests this season and they have a record of 2-1.
If the Redskins play a fourth overtime game this season, it would be a franchise first.
In Week 2, the Redskins lost to the Houston Texans 30-27 in overtime at FedExField. Three weeks later, they defeated the Green Bay Packers 16-13 in overtime at FedExField.
In Week 11 at Tennessee, the Redskins defeated the Titans 19-16 in overtime at LP Field in Nashville.
-- Shanahan's Moving Up
With the Redskins' Week 10 win over the Tennessee Titans, Mike Shanahan recorded his 159th career win (regular season and postseason) as a head coach.
Shanahan's career record is 159-110, a .591 winning percentage. That win total is 16th best among all-time NFL head coaches.
He needs three wins to surpass Bill Cowher, who has a 161-99-1 career record.
Among active head coaches, Shanahan's 159-110 record is second only to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who has a 172-99 record.
-- What's Next?
It's Dallas Week. And it's the Redskins' first time playing against new Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, who replaced Wade Phillips in Week 10.
The Redskins travel to Cowboys Stadium in North Texas to take on the Cowboys in an NFC East matchup on Dec. 19. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET.
The Redskins are 2-2 against the NFC East this season. They defeated the Cowboys 13-7 in Week 1 this season.