Winslow reaches end zone
Bucs opponents typically look to minimize TE Kellen Winslow's impact. But even with the clear efforts of the Redskins defense to double-team Winslow, he was able to make the Bucs' most critical offensive play when he grabbed a 41-yard touchdown on a strike down the middle from QB Josh Freeman. "Kellen understands that teams are trying to roll coverage to his side," Freeman said. "They're trying to double him with linebackers and safeties. … Just having Kellen working the middle is an asset." The play that resulted in a touchdown was one Freeman and Winslow thought had promise. "We'd talked about it all week," Freeman said. "We'd worked that route probably five or six times, me and Kellen, just talking over it and just working over it different ways. And it was a great call by (offensive coordinator Greg Olson). They were playing the middle of the field open, leaving Kellen one-on-one down the middle. And it was a great catch by Kellen."
For the record, no, the Redskins did not get five downs in their late-game sequence. The confusion, which also confounded the Fox broadcast duo of Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston, stemmed from a first-down play from the Bucs 12 with 49 seconds left. On the play, Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong caught a 10-yard slant, but the superimposed yellow first-down marker on television was a full yard off, giving the appearance that Armstrong was short of a first down. Compounding the problem: One of the sideline down markers was never changed to reflect first down, and the television graphics and scoreboard never indicated a first down was earned.
A designated pool reporter asked referee Peter Morelli about the sequence. "The initial ruling was first down (at the) 21/2-yard line, and the auxiliary box on the other side did not (get changed). It was showing second down. The primary box (down marker), which is the main down (marker), had first down. So we corrected the '2' because it hung up there for a while, and we corrected it to '1.' "
The Bucs did not protest, and coach Raheem Morris had no issues. "I knew it was a first down," he said. "They gave them the first down. It wasn't any scandal."
Heck of a homecoming
Perhaps the Bucs should play all of their games in the Washington, D.C., area. Maybe then rookie WR Arrelious Benn would turn in a performance like he did Sunday. The Washington native had the best game of his career, with four catches for 122 yards, including receptions of 64 and 43 yards. His 64-yard gain on a deep ball down the right sideline in the second quarter was the Bucs' longest completion of the season and the longest in nearly two years. With 15 family members in the FedEx Field stands, Benn had the perfect scenario. "It was perfect timing," he said. "It's something I dream about." On the 64-yard catch, Benn took advantage of a one-on-one matchup with Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall. To exploit Hall's sometimes poor tackling technique, the Bucs had been running toward him, blocking other defenders and leaving Hall in one-on-one matchups with running backs on the perimeter. The Bucs gave Hall the same look he'd seen several times but then threw him a changeup. "We'd basically been blocking everybody and making him make the tackle," QB Josh Freeman said. "So I just really took a three-step drop, and the backs sold it really well, and (Hall) kind of flat-footed, thinking, 'I'm going to step up and make this tackle.' He adjusted pretty quick and got on the run. "But it was too late by the that time." Benn has been the beneficiary of defenses' attempts to contain WR Mike Williams and TE Kellen Winslow. But Benn's propensity for explosive plays -— he gained 17 yards on an end around — is making it a tough call for opponents. "I'm getting more comfortable each week, and the coaches are getting comfortable with me," he said. "It's just a matter of finding ways to get me the ball, which they've been doing."
Slip and slide
The Bucs came to Washington prepared for wet conditions, and the weather lived up to their expectations. A steady, cold rain fell all day at FedEx Field, leaving players to adjust to the conditions. WR Mike Williams said receivers struggle in rainy conditions with whether to wear gloves because the rubbery palms of the gloves become slippery. "It's always bad for receivers in the rain," he said. "You have to make the adjustment to either play with your gloves or take the gloves off. And if you do take the gloves off, you're so used to playing with your gloves that it's kind of hard." But the Bucs never changed their game plan to adjust to the weather, throwing the ball down the field when able. "When you have a guy like Josh Freeman, who is 6-6 and has big hands, the rain doesn't affect his throwing motion," RB Cadillac Williams said. "We don't use the weather as an excuse."
Run defense recovers
There was a time in the game when it appeared Redskins RB Ryan Torain might shatter records that had stood for decades. Perhaps he would have — had the Bucs not made adjustments against Washington's zone-blocking run scheme. Rather than the man-to-man blocking scheme the Bucs employ, the Redskins use a tactic in which the offensive line moves laterally in unison, creating creases for running backs. The Bucs, who this season haven't played a team that runs the scheme exclusively, were gashed by Torain for 158 yards in the first half. Coach Raheem Morris, also the defensive coordinator, said he never flinched. "It's all about finding a way," he said. "We were able to do that. We moved Michael Bennett (normally a defensive end) inside for some more quickness to counter the zone scheme. … He did a better job in the second half. We also came in at halftime and put a few wrinkles in and were able to do a few things there to be able to get us a little bit better opportunity to cover some things. Frustration is never a word that goes across my head." Among the things Morris introduced were run blitzes, and the Bucs tackled better. The key to stopping the zone scheme, Bennett said, is "getting penetration. Everybody has to get in their gap. When they do that, then we'll stop it every time." That's where Bennett's role was critical. He used his speed to beat interior offensive linemen off the ball and create havoc inside, and Roy Miller got more penetration in the second half. That meant the Redskins got little to nothing on second-half rushing attempts, putting them in long down-and-distance situations that forced the Redskins to throw. The adjustments worked. Washington was limited to 14 yards on six rushing attempts in the second half.
Rookie season over for McCoy
Just as he was beginning to tap into his substantial potential, Gerald McCoy had his season cut short when the rookie defensive tackle, drafted third overall, tore his left biceps in the first quarter. It was a routine play that had a devastating result for McCoy. "I was reaching out; I came down on a zone block," he said, "and (the running back) turned upfield, and I was reaching out for the tackle. My arm just got caught, and it tore." McCoy said he didn't initially know the muscle was torn and attempted a comeback. "When I felt it, I ran off," he said. "I asked (the trainer) if I could go back in. He said, 'It may feel like you can, but …' " The injury ended a rookie season that had shown signs of promise, particularly in recent weeks. "You can't get down on yourself; you've just got to see what happens," McCoy said. "Keep fighting. I'm not a quitter. I don't really let anything slow me down. I keep on pushing. Somebody goes down, somebody has to step up." The Bucs used three players at McCoy's position Sunday — Michael Bennett, Alex Magee and Al Woods. "We lost the premier position, the 3 technique, for the game, and these guys found a way to win that game in ugly fashion," coach Raheem Morris said.
Black down and out
The Bucs lost not only DT Gerald McCoy but also LB Quincy Black, who was playing well before suffering a broken forearm in the fourth quarter. Before leaving, Black turned in eight total tackles, a sack off a blitz and a tackle for loss. Six starters have been lost for the season in the past three games. Black will be missed for his versatility and more. "It's going to be big to lose his leadership skills and attributes that he brings," LB Geno Hayes said. The Bucs will likely turn to a combination of players to replace him — veteran Adam Hayward and rookie Dekoda Watson, who filled in for Black while he missed time with an ankle sprain. Hayward -— who recovered a Redskins fumble on the second-half kickoff — said he has played when the Bucs were in their base defense, with Watson playing in the nickel defense. "We don't know what's going to happen, but as you saw, both of us were able to get out there," Hayward said. "At the end of the day, I know we both can play, and we're both going to be prepared. It's like a shake and bake."
. The Bucs are now 7-2 over their past nine road games.
. Bucs LB Adam Hayward's recovered fumble on the second-half kickoff, which set up a field goal, was the first special team's fumble recovery of his career.
. RG Derek Hardman became the 40th different player to start for the Bucs this season.
. The attendance of 66,124 (on a cold and rainy day) was the fourth-smallest crowd in FedEx Field history.
. The Redskins had 15 yards of total offense in the third quarter.
. Redskins K Graham Gano missed field goals of 34 and 24 yards in the first half. He has missed 10 of 32 attempts this season, the most misses in the league.