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Redskins win ugly, beat Buccaneers 16-3

It wasn't pretty, but the Redskins pulled out a win to improve to 6-3.
Credit: Kim Klement
Nov 11, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Washington Redskins free safety D.J. Swearinger (36) celebrates in the bench against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers oduring the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

TAMPA, Fla. (WUSA9) – The Washington Redskins took advantage of an opportunistic defensive performance and a bumbling Tampa Bay Buccaneer offense to secure a 16-3 victory on Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium.

Led by Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tampa Bay gained 498 yards of total offense against the seventh-ranked Washington defense, but could only manage three points. Dating back to 1960, it is the most yards gained by an NFL team in a game where that team scored three or fewer points.

“Defensively, we gave up some yards,” Washington head coach Jay Gruden said. “You know, they had a great time of possession, some great drives but we were able to keep them out of the end zone and force at least four turnovers that I can think of. So hats off to our defense for holding a very high-powered Buccaneer offensive to three points that hasn’t been done very often.”

Fitzpatrick threw for 406 yards and the Buccaneers had two 100-yard receivers on the day, but they remarkably could not find the end zone.

Washington’s defense made big plays in important situations throughout the game and were helped by the fact that Tampa Bay could not get out of their way. The hosts committed four turnovers – including a Josh Norman interception at the goal line and two fourth quarter fumbles in the red zone – while kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed two field goals.

The Buccaneers have an abysmal minus-19 turnover differential this season while the Redskins are plus-11.

“I promise you this: if we were even or minus-11 we wouldn’t be 6-3,” Gruden said.

Despite Tampa Bay’s inability to score, the matchup was still hanging in the balance at the start of the fourth quarter. Washington’s offense was sluggish and unproductive for most of the game, but was able to manufacture the game’s only touchdown drive early in the final period, which culminated in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith to Josh Doctson.

Smith threw for only 178 yards – 228 fewer than Fitzpatrick – but was efficient. The Redskins’ quarterback was 19-for-27 threw the air and did not commit a turnover, while his counterpart gave the ball away on three occasions.

On the ground, Adrian Peterson led the Washington rushing attack with 68 yards on 19 carries thanks in part to a valiant effort from an injury-plagued offensive line still without injured tackle Trent Williams.

“I thought the guys up front played great,” Smith said. “Battled all day against a really good defensive front… those guys were the difference today.”

While the Buccaneers were within striking distance for most of the afternoon, the game may have been decided when Dustin Hopkins kicked the first of his three field goals with 14 seconds remaining in the first quarter to give the Redskins a 3-0 lead. In all nine of Washington’s games this season, the team that scored first has not only gone on to win the game, but has also never trailed.

Washington improves to 6-3 for the first time since 2008 following the win and holds a two-game lead over the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East. Sunday’s victory also means the Redskins still have not lost back-to-back games this season. On average, Washington is only allowing 13 points per game following a defeat.

“I do think we’re a tough team, a gritty team,” Smith said. “A team I think thus far in the season [has] been in a lot of big games, big moments. I don’t think we shy from them. I think we embrace that role and I think those are all good things.”

The Redskins host the Houston Texans at 1:00 p.m. next Sunday before traveling to Dallas for a Thanksgiving rematch with the Cowboys.

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