Win over Redskins crucial for Bucs


Published: Friday, January 6, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 6, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
TAMPA - The Washington Redskins are one of the hottest teams in the NFL entering the playoffs, so they're not spending a lot of time rehashing a midseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Instead, they hope to settle the score when the teams meet again Saturday in the NFC wild-card round.
"It took a little air out of us for that time, but it is what it is," receiver Santana Moss said, recalling the Nov. 13 thriller the Bucs won 36-35 on Mike Alstott's 2-point conversion run with 58 seconds remaining.
The Redskins still don't believe Alstott got into the end zone on the play, but have moved on.
After losing their next two games to fall to 5-6, they've put together a five-game winning streak to finish 10-6 and make the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
"When you look at plays like that, it makes you think what play you left on the field that caused yourself to be in that predicament," Moss said of Alstott's run. "That's all you can really think about."
The victory was a turning point in Tampa Bay's season, sparking the team's second-half surge to the NFC South title at 11-5.
Coach Jon Gruden followed instinct rather conventional football wisdom to go for the win instead of trying to send the game into overtime after the Redskins blocked an extra-point attempt but were called for offside.
The victory stopped a two-game losing streak for the Bucs, and even more importantly bolstered the confidence of third-year quarterback Chris Simms, who struggled in losses to San Francisco and Carolina the previous two weeks.
Simms threw for 279 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions against Washington, including a 30-yard scoring pass to Edell Shepherd to set the stage for Alstott to finish the game in dramatic finish.
"I don't know if it was a no-brainer," Gruden said. "I've never done that before, and you don't see it done very often, where a team goes for it. But we did get a penalty, and the ball wasn't at the 2, it was at the 1.
"We felt that was our best chance to win the game. ... Looking back on it, I feel like it was a logical decision more than anything."
The day after the game, Washington coach Joe Gibbs said he had video to support his claim that Alstott was tackled short of the end zone. Nevertheless, he feels Gruden made a heady call to hand the ball to the 250-pound fullback from the 1.
"It was smart on his part, but it still took guts," Gibbs said. "I kind of admire him for doing that."
Like Moss, Redskins defensive end Phillip Daniels doesn't blame the loss on the officials failing to see Alstott's elbow hit the ground before going over the goal line.
"But that's how it is in this league. You can't leave it up to the officials to make those kinds of calls because they're human, too," Daniels said. "They're going to make mistakes. The official thought he got in, so he got in. We've just got to make up for it when we go back."
Linebacker Lemar Marshall also tried to be diplomatic when he was asked if Washington was robbed.
"I don't think we got robbed. We had a chance to win it. It didn't have to come down to it. When it did, it just went their way instead of ours," Marshall said, pausing a couple of seconds before muttering under his breath: "But we did get robbed."

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