Buccaneers fall to Redskins in battle of backups
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- On his first full day on the job as the kicker for the Washington Redskins, Billy Cundiff made three of four field goal attempts -- and was booed for the one he missed.
"It's good to be back in the NFC East, where they boo the home team," the veteran said. "It reminds me of my days in Dallas."
Signed Tuesday after the Redskins cut Graham Gano, Cundiff was the only first-stringer of consequence for either team Wednesday night in Washington's 30-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Cundiff converted from 39, 27 and 22 yards and got some grief from the crowd when he sliced one wide right from 46.
"It's a different environment, and to be honest with you, I think it's a good thing because they expect perfection," he said. "And even though perfection is unattainable, if you try to be perfect and you come pretty close, you're going to have a really good season."
With head coaches Mike Shanahan and Greg Schiano resting nearly all of their offensive and defensive starters, the teams gathered before a modest crowd and proved that the backups from one consensus last-place team can beat the backups from another consensus last-place team, for whatever that's worth.
The second-, third- and fourth-teamers were vying for roster spots, while the starters are already looking ahead to the regular season openers on Sept. 9. One Redskin who helped his odds was seventh-round draft pick Richard Crawford, who had his second interception of the preseason.
"I'm new to this business, so I don't really have a confidence level," Crawford said. "I'll be by my phone tomorrow and see what happens."
Crawford was then told that cutdown day is Friday, not Thursday.
"See? I don't even know what day it is," he said. "Whatever it is, I'll be by my phone."
Among the Buccaneers on tenterhooks will be on-the-bubble receiver Tiquan Underwood, who had six catches for 82 yards Wednesday.
"I left it all out there," said Underwood, who spent part of last season with the New England Patriots and has been cut six times since being drafted in 2009. "I'm just leaving it in God's hands and in the coach's hands. I went out there and played my heart out."
Roy Helu Jr. and Evan Royster, who both might have a shot as the Redskins' starting running back job because of injuries, returned from ailments of their own to account for all three of Washington's touchdowns. Helu ran for 90 yards and two scores after missing two games with sore Achilles, while Royster ran for 44 yards and a TD after missing last week's game with a sore right knee.
No. 2 overall draft pick Robert Griffin III was declared the Redskins starting quarterback before training camp, so the Heisman Trophy winner ran with the other inactive first-teamers on the field before the game. He then watched fourth-round selection Kirk Cousins play into the third quarter and complete 15 of 27 passes for 222 yards and an interception.
Brett Ratliff, third on the depth chart behind Josh Freeman and Dan Orlovsky, played the entire game for the Buccaneers and was sacked five times. He completed 14 of 30 passes for 164 yards and three interceptions.
"He had a gutsy performance," Schiano said. "There were certain things that we missed -- both in protection and seeing it, the quarterback spot. But the thing is, he wanted to keep playing. At the end of the game, on fourth down, he was, `C'mon, Coach.' I love that about guys that want to play ball."
The Redskins signed Cundiff without even a tryout, judging his body of work with the Baltimore Ravens and figuring it to be an upgrade over Gano, who missed an NFL-high 10 field goal attempts last year -- five of them blocked.
Cundiff was All-Pro in 2010 but struggled with long-distance kicks last year, going 1 for 6 from 50-plus. He was released by the Ravens on Sunday.
"Obviously, he would like to be 100 percent," Shanahan said. "But he was 3 for 4, and hopefully he'll be 4 for 4 once we get to the season."
NOTES: Undrafted rookie Sean Baker had two interceptions and a fumble recovery for Tampa Bay. ... Redskins QB Jonathan Crompton, re-signed earlier in the day after being cut Monday, finished the game. ... Washington RB Tristan Davis left with a right knee injury. ... Schiano took the backup theme to the extreme by using his reserve long snapper, a decision that became apparent when Zack Pianalto sent a bouncer to the punter at the end of Tampa Bay's first offensive series. Pianalto had two other low snaps, showing he's no threat to unseat regular snapper Andrew Economos. ... Replacement referee Jim Core contributed to the backup theme by checking a replay, announcing the call was upheld, then telling the crowd: "We'll look at it one more time."