Tampa Bay (2-8) rookie wide receiver Mike Evans had a career day. He caught seven passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns. His scoring receptions of 36 and 56 yards in the third and fourth quarters sealed the Redskins doom. It was the first time a receiver had 200 yards against the Redskins since 1993.
But in this nightmare of a game, the Redskins (3-7) seemed to be snakebitten from the start. On their very first offensive play, quarterback Robert Griffin III scrambled to his left and threw a low pass to tight end Niles Paul. Paul tried desperately to catch the ball but only managed to bobble it into the hands of a Buc’s defender. Tampa Bay converted the turnover into a 32-yard field goal and a quick 3-0 lead with 11:10 to play in the first quarter.
On Washington’s third possession, deep in their own territory, Griffin had his pass tipped and then intercepted by Buc’s Johnthan Banks and returned 19-yards for a touchdown. The Redskins never recovered from the disasterious start, giving Tampa Bay a 10-0 lead with 3:56 still left to play in the first quarter.
RGIII finished the game 23-32 for 207 yards. He had one touchdown pass to go along with his two costly interceptions. He also rushed for 41 yards on six carries. He had opportunities to redeem himself in this game but twice overthrew speedy wideout DeSean Jackson who had beaten the coverage each time. He also appeared to hold on to the ball too long on pass plays which allowed the Bucs to get a season-high six sacks against the Redskins.
When the Redskins did get some luck, they could not take advantage of the opportunity. After they recovered a muffed punt, the Redskins had the ball at the Bucs 17-yard line. An Alfred Morris run (20 carries, 96 yards) and a penalty gave Washington a first and goal. Griffin then was sacked on back-to-back plays in the red zone. Reliable place kicker Kai Forbath then missed a 47-yard field goal.
Tampa Bay responded with a six-play 43-yard drive which resulted in a 38-yard field goal and a 13-0 lead with 7:39 to play in the first half.
Washington did have one glimmer of hope in this game and it happened on their last drive before the half. After getting the ball with 1:09 to play in the half, Washington put together their best drive of the game. With a mix of Morris runs and catches they moved 49-yards in four plays.
Running back Roy Helu, (six catches, 57 yards, 1 TD) who earlier fumbled, which cost Washington another scoring chance, then took a well-designed screen pass from RGIII and dashed 30 yards straight up the field for a touchdown. The half ended with the Bucs up 13-7.
Unfortunately for Washington fans, the Redskins failed to take advantage of the momentum gained by the late first half touchdown and were shutout by the Bucs defense in the third quarter. Their best scoring chance in the quarter was on a drive that got them to the Bucs 32-yard line. Griffin took another sack which led to a 50-yard Forbath field goal try that was wide right.
Meanwhile, Buc’s quarterback Josh McCown (15-23, 288 yards, 2 TDs) engineered a four-play 60-yard drive that ended when a streaking Evans caught the ball in the end zone on a 36-yard touchdown reception. Tampa Bay went up 20-7 with 4:36 to play in the third quarter.
The Buc’s then put the game away as McCown recognized that Evans had single coverage, and the cover man was linebacker Perry Riley Jr. McCown took advantage of the Washington mistake and lofted a beautiful pass to a wide open Evans who caught the ball in stride behind the coverage to complete the 56-yard touchdown pass play. Tampa Bay increased their lead to 27-7 with 14:07 to play in the game.
Washington, behind a porous offensive line, that saw two starters leave the game, including left tackle Trent Williams, attempted to mount a drive, but in the end just ran the ball, content to run out the clock on a game that was lost from the start.
Tampa Bay was led in rushing by Charles Sims who had 36 yards on 13 carries. Deep-threat Jackson had four catches for 35 yards for Washington. Redskin tight end Jordan Reed had two catches for 22 yards, and running back Morris had two catches for 36 yards.