Missed PAT lets Buccaneers edge Redskins 17-16
LANDOVER, Md. (AP)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris knows it doesn't matter one bit how a victory comes about, even if it's thanks in large part to an opponent's miscues.
So what if Tampa Bay beat Washington 17-16 when the Redskins blew the potential tying extra point in the final 10 seconds Sunday because the holder couldn't handle a high snap?
So what if the Redskins missed two short field-goal attempts in the driving rain earlier? So what if Washington's Chris Wilson fumbled the second half's opening kickoff, leading to a field goal for Tampa Bay?
''I'm not going to be apologetic,'' Morris said, ''for any form of wins.''
Tampa Bay (8-5) ended a two-game losing streak and stayed in the playoff chase, despite continuing to accumulate injuries at an alarming rate. The Bucs lost first-round draft pick Gerald McCoy for the season with a hurt right biceps, and linebacker Quincy Black could also be done in 2010 after breaking his forearm.
The Bucs lost two starters in each of their previous two games, prompting cornerback Ronde Barber to say Sunday: ''Don't let them do the 18-game season this year, because we won't make it.''
Playing for the first time since defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth was suspended, the Redskins (5-8) lost their fourth consecutive home game. They've dropped five of six games overall.
''You can't make the mistakes we made and win a tight football game,'' said coach Mike Shanahan, whose club didn't take advantage of Ryan Torain's career-high 172 yards rushing, 158 in the first half.
It turns out that the Redskins are exactly the sort of opponent the Bucs beat: Tampa Bay is 0-5 against teams with winning records this season, but 8-0 against foes who are at or below .500.
And five of Tampa Bay's victories this season came thanks to fourth-quarter comebacks. Quarterback Josh Freeman did it again, going 15 of 25 for 266 yards - and 11 of 16 for 214 yards after halftime, including a 41-yard TD pass to Kellen Winslow Jr. with 3:47 left in the fourth quarter.
''He was mugged, yeah,'' Shanahan said, repeating the verb suggested by a reporter.
That play allowed Freeman to make up for having fumbled at Washington's 1 early in the final quarter. After Tampa Bay's lone TD - Connor Barth went 3 for 3 on field-goal tries - Freeman ran the ball in for a 2-point conversion to put the visitors ahead 17-10.
There still was plenty of time for the Redskins to drive downfield, and that they did. Donovan McNabb connected with Santana Moss on a 6-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 9 seconds left, meaning all that was left to make it 17-all was the point-after-touchdown.
''We obviously thought, 'Overtime,' Orakpo said.
Across the field, though, some members of the Bucs had a different feeling. Maybe that's because Redskins kicker Graham Gano already was having an adventurous afternoon: He hit the left upright on a 34-yard field-goal attempt in the first quarter, then pushed a 24-yarder way wide left in the second.
''It was almost weird. ... Something just didn't feel right,'' Tampa Bay running back Cadillac Williams said. ''I was like, 'Man, he's going to miss it.'''
He sure did.
Long snapper Nick Sundberg sailed the slick ball high. Holder Hunter Smith got his hands on it but couldn't corral it. Gano wound up with some aching ribs after chasing down the loose ball.
Smith put it on his shoulders.
''People are going to call for Graham's head. They're going to say it was a high snap. They're going to blame me for dropping it,'' Smith said. ''I'm a 12-year vet and I have to catch the ball and get it down. It doesn't matter if it's raining; it doesn't matter where the snap is. If anybody needs to lose their job, it's me, certainly not one of those guys. I certainly accept blame and hope I receive the blame.''
The Bucs, of course, weren't worried about where the Redskins' players, coaching staff or fans point fingers.
They simply were thrilled with the final result.
''No, no, no,'' Morris said. ''I don't feel lucky.''
Noted Freeman: ''It's the NFL. Crazy things happen every week.''