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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Raheem Morris defends highly questionable fourth-quarter moves



So, the Bucs lose 16-13 here at FedEx Field, but it's what led to this result that will have people talking in the days to come.

Most notably, coach Raheem Morris' decision to kick a field goal with 4:13 left from the Redskins' 4-yard line will be much debated. If the Bucs would have scored a touchdown in that situation, they stood a good chance to win the game. But Morris defended the move in the face of tough questioning from reporters afterward.

"I felt really good about the defense at that point," Morris said. "If we get the three (points), we get the ball back with two minutes left and have an ability to go down there and score in a two-minute drive. We could kick a field goal to put into overtime.

"It worked out in our favor. We stopped them and got them to punt the ball to the best return man in football, Clifton Smith. We got the ball on offense and I thought we could have moved the ball a little better in the two-minute drive. We could have gave ourselves a chance to go to overtime or even win it. I’d make it again. Our defense played lights out."

Asked why he didn't trust the defense to get a stop from deep in Redskins territory in the event a fourth-down attempt would have failed, Morris said, "You can ‘what if’ a whole bunch of different things today. (What if) we go out there, we kick that thing and get three and go down and get seven on the next drive?

"That was the decision we made. That was the decision we rolled with."

As to the other mystifying decision -- giving the ball to running back Clifton Smith with the game and keeping Cadillac Williams on the sideline -- Morris was unapologetic. Smith, who had shown a propensity to fumble in 2008, fumbled and the Redskins ran the clock out to seal the win.

"He's the two-minute back," Morris said. "We were in a 2-minute situation. He got the first down, we picked it up. He's just got to hold on the football. That's his job."

Derrick Ward was sidelined with a knee injury, placing Smith in that position. But Williams had been the hottest player on the field at the time and it was curious, at best, that he wouldn't be given the ball in that situation.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:43pm]


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