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Tampa Bay Buccaneers


After climbing out of a 10-0 hole dug mostly by new Redskin back Clinton Portis, the Bucs couldn’t finish the comeback, falling 16-10 to Washington in the season opener


DT Ellis Wyms and the Bucs mostly contained QB Mark Brunell but had trouble with RB Clinton Portis

The Washington Redskins got what they wanted out of Clinton Portis in a 16-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at FedEx Field. The Buccaneers will have to wait another week to see if their own offensive imports can have a similar impact.

In the case of Joey Galloway, the wait could be even longer.

The answers came a lot more quickly for the Bucs on defense, however. After a slow start, the Tampa Bay defense put together an inspired second-half turnaround and even tied the game on a nine-yard fumble return by Ronde Barber late in the third quarter. Unfortunately, Washington's own defense came up big in the fourth quarter and the Redskins tacked on two John Hall field goals to win by six in the season opener for both teams.

Portis, acquired in an offseason trade for Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey, went 64 yards for a touchdown on his first carry as a Redskin. The Bucs, meanwhile, started six new players on offense and struggled to move the ball throughout the afternoon, gaining just 169 yards of offense.

Tampa Bay's run defense took a beating early on in opener, then stiffened considerably, allowing the Bucs to get back into the game. Washington gained 166 of its 291 yards on the ground, including 148 by Portis. Portis, in fact, had 102 yards by the six-minute mark of the second quarter. However, he had just 112 yards at the 11-minute mark of the fourth quarter and was repeatedly caught in the backfield in the second half. Overall, the Bucs' defense allowed 145 yards of offense in the first quarter and just 146 the rest of the way.

The Bucs started a new running back, two new receivers and three new offensive linemen, but none produced Portis-like numbers. Galloway did not have a catch before suffering a groin strain in the second quarter as he tried to haul in a pass in the end zone. The extent of his injury was not available by the end of the game, but any absence could be difficult for the Bucs' offense, which was counting on Galloway's breakaway speed.

WR Tim Brown, the other new starter, caught four passes but for a total of just 23 yards, with no play longer than 10 yards. RB Charlie Garner gained 25 yards on 11 carries and caught one passes for four yards.

The Buccaneers' revamped offensive line can only be judged by the offense's numbers as a whole. QB Brad Johnson was four times, though he often had time to throw despite a blitz-happy Washington defense. Johnson was dropped on each of the Bucs' last three plays from scrimmage. The running game picked up just 30 yards and 2.0 yards per carry.

The Bucs did have a nice debut from another offensive newcomer, rookie Michael Clayton. The team's first-round draft pick had a promising first game, playing extensively at flanker and catching a game-high seven passes for 53 yards.

One quasi-new Buccaneer who also had a nice 2004 debut was wide receiver Frank Murphy, the team's kickoff return man. Murphy had four kickoff returns for 125 yards. Included in his exploits was a 54-yarder in the second quarter, the longest by a Buccaneer in almost two years, and another long runback in the first that was called back on a penalty. Murphy last played for the Buccaneers in 2001, though he did have a kickoff return for a touchdown during the 2002 preseason.

The Bucs actually looked quite good on special teams, overall. Martin Gramatica shook off an up-and-down preseason to calmly nail his first try of the season, a 47-yarder in the second quarter that was set up by Murphy's long return. New punter Josh Bidwell shanked his first punt as a Buccaneer then settled into a groove, eventually averaging 40.1 yards on nine punts, with a fine net average of 35.9 and three kicks inside the 20. The Bucs, who kept seven linebackers up among their 45 active players, were strong on kick and punt coverage throughout the day, allowing just six yards per punt return and 21 yards per kickoff return.

And the Buccaneers' pass defense appeared to be strong to start the season, even with a relative lack of pressure on the quarterback. Brunell was not sacked, nor even pressured on many plays, but he was able to complete only 13 of 24 passes for 125 yards. The only real pressure of the day was supplied by reserve DT Ellis Wyms, who twice flattened Brunell as he threw, forcing incompletions.

Unfortunately, the offense had trouble generating any big plays and could not sustain drives with its short passes and struggling running game. The Bucs' initial first down came more than halfway through the second quarter, and they would pick up only 10 first downs and 169 total yards on the day. Tampa Bay's longest play from scrimmage was a 24-yard catch by TE Rickey Dudley in the third quarter. Johnson completed 24 of 37 passes but averaged just seven yards per completion and 4.5 yards per attempt.

The Bucs were in a 10-0 hole before they dented the scoreboard for the first time in 2004. A sack and forced fumble by safety Matt Bowen gave Washington a short field late in the first quarter, and they turned it into a 32-yard field goal drive. LB Shelton Quarles kept QB Mark Brunell from scrambling for a first down near the Bucs' goal-line, so the Redskins settled for John Hall's 20-yard field goal.

Murphy's 54-yard return on the ensuing kickoff put the Bucs at Washington 34, but they could gain only five yards before Gramatica hit his 47-yarder with 13 minutes left in the first half.

Barber tied the game with just under five minutes left in the third quarter. Brunell tripped as he turned to hand the ball to Portis, leading to a muffed exchange that sent the ball bounding high in the air. Barber came out of a group of players with the ball and trotted nine yards into the end zone, untouched.

A turnover in the other direction led to Washington's winning points. Johnson was intercepted by LB Antonio Pierce near midfield with 11 minutes to play. Portis' 16-yard run keyed a 27-yard drive that ended in John Hall's 30-yard field goal. After two sacks ended Tampa Bay's next drive, Washington drained most of the remaining five minutes off the clock with a 10-play, 51-yard drive leading to Hall's game-capping 34-yarder.

The Bucs lost a road season-opener for the first time in the last four tries, dropping to 0-1. The Redskins welcomed their new (and former) Head Coach Joe Gibbs back into the fold with the win and a 1-0 record to start the season. Tampa Bay heads home to face the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday in its home opener.

Notes: More people watched today's game in person than have ever attended a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. FedEx Field had an announced crowd of 90,098 at the game, easily eclipsing the previous record for a Buccaneer game: 85,490. That record was also set at FedEx Field, at Tampa Bay's 35-13 victory over the Redskins last October 12. In fact, the three most heavily attended games in Buc history have all been against Washington, including a contest that drew 83,532 on October 1, 2000. The record for an announced crowd at a Buccaneer home game is 73,523, set on December 7, 1997 against Green Bay in Houlihan's Stadium. … Overall, Tampa Bay is now 12-17 all-time in season openers. They have won three of their last five, including three of the last four on the road. … CB Ronde Barber's touchdown return of a fumble in the third quarter was Barber's sixth regular season touchdown and his seventh overall. That ties LB Derrick Brooks for the most by a defensive player, in both categories, in franchise history. Barber's last touchdown was a 29-yard interception return against Indianapolis on October 6, 2003.

Injury Updates: WR Joey Galloway suffered a groin strain in the second quarter on an attempt to catch a pass in the end zone and did not return.

Inactives: The Bucs designated eight players as inactive for Sunday's game: QB Chris Simms, CB Torrie Cox, FB Jameel Cook, T Kenyatta Walker, G Jeb Terry, WR Charles Lee, TE Will Heller and DE Josh Savage.

Quarter-by-Quarter Reports: During the game, provided updates of the action after each quarter. Those reviews of each period are below, providing a closer look at how the game unfolded.

First Quarter Review

The home team dominated the first quarter of action, as Washington opened up a 7-0 lead and was knocking on the Bucs' end zone again when the quarter came to an end. Gaining 100 yards on the ground in the quarter, the Redskins outgained the Bucs by a 145-10 yard margin and had six first downs to none for the visitors.

Bucs' ball…

Tampa Bay won the coin toss and sent WR Frank Murphy deep to receive the season's first kickoff. Murphy caught the on the left side of the field and cut to the middle for a quick-hitting 30-yard return out to the Bucs' 34.

The Bucs' first offensive play of the season was a run by Charlie Garner up the middle, which Washington stonewalled for a loss of one. A short pass out to rookie WR Michael Clayton was good for just one yard, setting up third-and-10. QB Brad Johnson had time to throw on third down but had to settle for a sideline pass to TE Rickey Dudley, which came up three yards short of the first down.

Josh Bidwell came on to punt and shanked a kick that the Bucs downed at Washington's 31.

Redskins' ball…

Washington's first play was a quick pass down the line to WR Rod Gardner, who dropped the ball for an incompletion. The Redskins threw on second down as well, and Gardner was able to get around CB Brian Kelly for a gain of 10 and a first down.

After a delay-of-game penalty, the Redskins scored on the next play. RB Clinton Portis's first carry as a Redskin went the distance, as he started off right guard and cut to the right sideline, going 64 yards without being touched. That gave Washington a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.

Bucs' ball…

A long kickoff return by Murphy was erased by a holding penalty, forcing the Bucs to start at their own 16. On second-and-10, Garner raced off right guard for a gain of seven. The Bucs gave it back to Garner on third-and-three, but his dash around right end was good for only two yards and the Bucs had to punt again. This time, Bidwell boomed a 53-yard punt and the coverage was on top of return man Chad Morton immediately.

Redskins' ball…

Portis's second carry was far less dramatic, a run around left tackle for no gain, as he was tripped up by LB Shelton Quarles. Portis tried right guard on second down and got three yards before DE Greg Spires' stop. QB Mark Brunell moved the sticks by finding Gardner 18 yards up the right hash.

From the midfield stripe, Brunell tossed a receiver screen to WR Laveranues Coles, who slipped several tackles to gain seven yards. Portis' second-down carry got just enough for another first down. Three plays later, on third-and-two from the Bucs' 32, Brunell tried to hit Coles crossing from right to left, but LB Derrick Brooks broke up the pass.

K John Hall came on to try a 50-yard field goal but pushed it just a bit right.

Bucs' ball…

The missed kick gave Tampa Bay possession at its own 40, but Johnson's first-down toss to WR Joey Galloway was off target. On second down, Johnson was looking farther downfield when he had the ball slapped out of his hand by blitzing safety Matt Bowen. DT Brandon Noble recovered for Washington at the Bucs' 34.

Redskins' ball…

Brunell took a crack at the end zone on first down, throwing to H-back Chris Cooley deep, but both CB Ronde Barber and S Dwight Smith were there to break it up and nearly get the interception. Two plays later, on third-and-six, Brunell pitched it to Portis, who swept around left end for seven yards and a first down at the Bucs' 23.

Portis was stopped for no gain on the next play, but two runs by Ladell Betts moved the sticks and put Washington at the Bucs' 12. Two more Portis runs to the left got the ball down to the Bucs' three, and the quarter ended with Washington facing a third-and-two.

Second Quarter Review

Each team recorded a single field goal in the second quarter, and the period was much more even, overall, than the first. After being outgained by a 145-10 yard margin in the opening period, the Bucs had 55 yards in the second quarter to the Redskins' 52. Heading into halftime, Tampa Bay trailed, 10-3.

Redskins' ball…

Washington faced a third-and-two from the Bucs' three when the quarter opened, but a designed scramble by QB Mark Brunell got just one yard thanks to LB Shelton Quarles' tackle. The Jets elected to kick a field goal and John Hall's 20-yarder gave Washington a 10-0 lead.

Bucs' ball…

WR Frank Murphy turned in yet another fine return, breaking free on the right sideline for a 54-yard return down to Washington's 34.

After a four-yard catch by Tim Brown on second down, the Bucs took a crack at the end zone on third-and-five. QB Brad Johnson tried to hit WR Joey Galloway as the receiver crossed the goal line, but Galloway couldn't hold on to the pass, forcing the Bucs to try a 47-yard field goal. Martin Gramatica nailed it, cutting Washington's lead to 10-3 with 13 minutes to play in the half.

Redskins' ball…

The Bucs tried a pooch kick after the field goal but FB Mike Sellers alertly picked it up and got to the Washington 36. A Clinton Portis nine-yard run had five yards tacked on the end due to a defensive holding penalty, giving the 'Skins a first down at midfield.

S Dwight Smith broke up a pass intended for TE Walter Rasby on second down, leading to third-and-10. WR Rod Gardner found a hole in the Bucs' zone but couldn't hold onto a low pass, forcing Washington to punt. The kick went into the end zone for a touchback.

Bucs' ball…

RB Charlie Garner tripped heading to the line on first down, failing to gain a yard. Two plays later, on third-and-one, Johnson found WR Michael Clayton near the left sideline, but CB Fred Smoot arrived just in time to poke the ball out of Clayton's hands. The Bucs had to punt and Chad Morton called for a fair catch at the Redskins' 37.

Redskins' ball…

RB Ladell Betts went off left tackle for four yards on first down, but CB Mario Edwards had good coverage on an out-and-up try to WR Laveranues Coles, forcing an incompletion. Brunell threw deep on third down, just before he was flattened by DT Ellis Wyms, and the pass went out of bounds. Tom Tupa's 46-yard punt went out of bounds at the Bucs' 13.

Bucs' ball…

Johnson's first down pass was complete to WR Bill Schroeder for a gain of seven yards, but FB Mike Alstott was stopped for no gain on second down. On third-and-three, Johnson faked a handoff and threw a quick pass to Alstott, who got six yards and a first down at the 26.

A quick first-down pass to Clayton picked up nine more, but Alstott's next run lost a yard. On third-and-two, after a Buc timeout, Johnson tried to hit Brown short over the middle but CB Walt Harris was there to break it up, forcing another punt. A penalty on the return pushed Washington back to its own 10 to start the next drive.

Redskins' ball…

Portis got five yards up the middle on first down but nothing over left guard on second down. On third-and-five, Brunell escaped pressure and scrambled left, buying time to loft a 27-yard pass down the sideline to Gardner.

Three plays later, the Redskins faced a third-and-four at their own 48 but lost any chance to convert when the snap was fumbled. Washington recovered at its own 37 but had to punt as the two-minute warning arrived.

Bucs' ball…

After the punt, the Bucs started at their own 22 and got a quick eight yards on a pass over the middle to Clayton. Another quick pass to Clayton on a slant picked up 11 yards, but Johnson threw the ball away after a scramble on first down from the Bucs' 41.

Washington alertly picked up RB Jamel White on a shovel pass, keeping the gain to just three yards as the clock ticked below a minute in the half. WR Tim Brown caught a six-yard pass at the midfield stripe to set up fourth-and-one. Perhaps thinking he had a first down, Johnson quickly called a timeout, but the Bucs had to punt. Morton called for a fair catch of Bidwell's punt at the Washington 11.

Redskins' ball…

Brunell kneeled once to end the half.

Third Quarter Review

The Bucs looked rejuvenated after halftime, particularly on defense. Not only did Tampa Bay's defense stiffen considerably against Clinton Portis and the Washington running game, it also produced the game-tying score. Heading into the fourth quarter, the game was knotted at 10-10.

Redskins' ball…

After Chad Morton took the half-opening kickoff back to Washington's 28, the Redskins lost four yards when LB Ian Gold trapped RB Clinton Portis in the backfield. After an 11-yard pass to WR Laveranues Coles, DE Ellis Wyms hit Brunell as he threw, forcing a popup that fell harmlessly between Buc defenders.

Bucs' ball…

After a 51-yard punt by Tom Tupa, the Bucs opened anew at their own 18. QB Brad Johnson had time to survey the field and eventually found TE Ken Dilger over the middle for a gain of 10 and a first down. Johnson then found rookie WR Michael Clayton in traffic on the left side, hitting him for a gain of 12.

Three plays later, on third-and-nine from the Bucs' 41, Johnson stepped up in the pocket to avoid DE Ron Warner eventually found FB Mike Alstott on a short pass. Alstott ran hard upfield for a gain of 10 and a first down at Washington's 49.

An incompletion and a delay-of-game put the Bucs into a second-and-15 hole, WR Bill Schroeder ran a deep curl into a pocket in the 'Skins' zone and caught a 19-yard pass at Washington's 35. Johnson then audibled into a short pass to RB Charlie Garner for a gain of four yards along the left sideline. Another audible turned into a Garner run for one yard, setting up third-and-five at the Redskins' 30, but it was third-and-10 after a Derrick Deese false start. A big Washington blitz forced Johnson into a short pass to Garner that fell incomplete. The Bucs chose to punt from the 35 and Bidwell's punt went into the end zone for a touchback.

Redskins' ball…

A fumbled snap cost Washington a yard, and Portis was tripped up by LB Shelton Quarles on second down. On third-and-nine, Brunell tried to hit Coles deep down the right hashmarks but the Bucs had double coverage and S Dwight Smith leaped to break it up and force a punt.

Bucs' ball…

The Bucs took over at their own 29 and got a quick 24 yards on a pass to TE Rickey Dudley, which Johnson threaded in despite tight coverage from S Matt Bowen. Two incompletions later, Johnson tried to find Clayton on an out-and-up but the play didn't fool CB Shawn Springs and the pass was incomplete. Bidwell's resulting punt was fair caught at the Washington 10.

Redskins' ball…

Portis ran a trap to the left on first down and got three yards before Quarles dropped him. The next play was the big turnover the Bucs were looking for.

The play started to go wrong for Washington when Brunell tripped as he turned to hand off to Portis. The resulting exchange was sloppy and it bounced out of Portis' hands into a gang of players, mostly Bucs. CB Ronde Barber came away with it and easily trotted nine yards into the end zone for the touchdown that tied the game at 10-10.

Redskins' ball…

The momentum continued to swing in Tampa Bay's favor when a holding penalty on the kickoff forced Washington to start at its own eight. Portis' first-down carry was good for only two yards as DE Greg Spires was in the way. Quarles got another hard hit on the back on second down, leading to a loss of one and a third-and-nine from the nine. Washington had to punt and the Bucs averted disaster when Schroeder bobbled the ball but fell on it at the Bucs' 42.

Bucs' ball…

On first down, Johnson looked right before zipping a pass to Clayton on the left side for a gain of eight. Alstott broke through a tackle to gain three yards and a first down at the Washington 47.

A second-down draw play to Garner put the Bucs in a third-and-seven, but an attempted slant pass to Clayton was very well-covered and incomplete. The resulting punt was fair caught at the 16.

Redskins' ball…

Washington faked a handoff on first down and Brunell fired a 16-yard pass to H-back Chris Cooley. That play brought the third quarter to an end.

Fourth Quarter Review

The Bucs went into the fourth quarter in a 10-10 tie in Washington, but the Redskins had the period's only points, kicking two field goals to win 16-10. Washington outgained Tampa Bay on the day by a total-yardage margin of 291-169. Tampa Bay falls to 0-1 while Washington gets off to a 1-0 start under returned coach Joe Gibbs.

Redskins' ball…

Washington had a first down at its own 32 when the fourth quarter began. They moved back to the 30 on first down when LB Derrick Brooks dropped RB Clinton Portis for a loss of two. Portis then dropped a second-down pass to lead to third-and-12, and good coverage forced QB Mark Brunell into a six-yard dumpoff to RB Ladell Betts.

Bucs' ball…

WR Tim Brown's fade-stop on second-and-seven produced 10 yards and a first down at the Bucs 37. Two plays later, QB Brad Johnson threw errantly over the middle and the pass was intercepted by LB Antonio Pierce. Pierce got the ball back to the Buccaneers' 39.

Redskins' ball…

A screen pass to Portis worked well as the back weaved through tacklers for a gain of seven. Portis then sliced around right end and avoided two near-tackles to gain 16 yards down to the Bucs' 16.

Two more Portis runs gained just four yards, setting up third-and-six. LB Ian Gold then broke up a pass intended for WR Laveranues Coles and the Redskins settled for a 30-yard field goal try. John Hall nailed it to put Washington back in front, 13-10, with just under nine minutes to play.

Bucs' ball…

After the kickoffs, the Bucs started at their own 26 and RB Charlie Garner broke off a nice six-yard run right up the middle. Going without a huddle, Johnson threw a short pass to WR Tim Brown for a gain of three. On third-and-one from the 35, the Bucs shifted formations to put FB Mike Alstott alone in the backfield, then gave it to Alstott off left tackle for a gain of three and a first down.

Two plays later, Johnson was sacked for a loss of five yards, setting up third-and-14. After a Buccaneer timeout, S Matt Bowen timed his blitz perfectly and came through untouched to sack Johnson again for a loss of nine yards.

Redskins' ball…

Washington started again at its own 33 with 5:03 to play. Obviously content to run down the clock, the Redskins gave it to Portis twice and he got a total of six yards to lead to third-and-four at the Washington 39. A play-action bootleg by Brunell worked, however, as he was able to complete a nine-yard pass to Coles. A facemask penalty tacked on 15 yards to the Bucs' 37.

Portis then broke off a seven-yard run as the clock ticked below three minutes. After a two-yard run, the Bucs called a timeout before the two-minute warning. After the break, Portis slipped out of a Gold tackle and was able to get six yards and a first down at the Bucs' 22, bringing on the two-minute warning.

Portis gained one yard on his next carry and the Bucs used their final timeout. The next run got nothing but did put a significant dent in the clock. The Bucs stopped Portis again on third down but Washington got another try when Tampa Bay was flagged for being offside. After a Ladell Betts run for one yard, Washington ran the clock down to 21 seconds and brought on the field goal unit. Hall's 34-yard try was good to pump Washington's lead to 16-13 with 18 seconds to play.

Bucs' ball…

The Bucs got the ball back at their own 34 with 11 seconds to play and saw their last slim chances end when Johnson was sacked immediately for a loss of 10 yards.

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