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-Wildcard Preview: Redskins & Bucs
By Chris Pokorny, PFCritics Writer
January 2, 2006
This week, the Washington Redskins will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the first game of the 2005-2006 NFL playoffs. These two teams met up just a few months ago in a classic match-up that ended when Mike Alstott scored a two-point conversion to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. Replays did not show that he got in fully, but there was not enough proof to overturn the call. Now that they meet in the playoffs, who will come out on top?

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NFC Wildcard Playoff Game - Team Stats

Washington Redskins - #6


#3 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Overall Record: 10-6
Road Record: 4-4
11th overall
(7th rush, 21st pass)
9th overall
(13th rush, 10th pass)


Overall Record: 11-5
Home Record: 6-2
23rd overall
(14th rush, 25th pass)
1st overall
(6th rush, 6th pass)

Last Meeting - November 13th, 2005
Quarterback vs. Quarterback

Mark Brunell: 23 of 35 for 226 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble.

Brunell turned the football over three times against Tampa Bay's defense. All of his turnovers came in the first half. Once he got on a roll, the Buccaneers defense could not stop him. His injury is a concern now though.


Chris Simms: 15 of 29 for 279 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions.

Note: Although he had a low completion percentage, Simms is the real reason the Buccaneers came away with the victory. His throws down the field were right on the money, and he led his team from behind.

Running Backs vs. Running Backs

Clinton Portis: 23 carries, 144 yards, 1 touchdown. 2 catches, 9 yards.
Ladell Betts: 7 carries, 26 yards. 3 catches, 19 yards, 1 touchdown.

Portis has come up big all year for the Redskins, and he completely tore apart the Buccaneers 6th ranked run defense. Ladell Betts did well as a complementary back as well, adding to their depth.


Carnell Williams: 10 carries, 20 yards, 1 fumble. No catches.
Mike Alstott: 9 carries, 21 yards, 2 touchdowns. 1 catch, 18 yards.

Note: Known as a strength for the Buccaneers, Cadillac never got it going at all. Fortunately for the Buccaneers, Alstott was able to pound it in for two touchdowns and the game winning two-pointer.

Receivers vs. Receivers

Santana Moss: 4 catches, 79 yards.
Chris Cooley:
6 catches, 66 yards .
Mike Sellers:
1 catch, 7 yards, 1 touchdown.

As they have done all season in the passing game, Brunell threw primarily to Moss and Cooley. Neither of his top two targets caught a touchdown, but they were able to successful get the ball to their goal line threat Mike Sellers. The Buccaneers were able to defend the "big play" from Moss fairly well.


Joey Galloway: 7 catches, 131 yards, 1 touchdown.
Alex Smith:
No catches.
Michael Pittman:
No catches.

Note: Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, Galloway basically is Simms only true threat. He has over 1000 yards on the season, but the next closest person has just under 400. Smith has come on from the tight end position while Pittman can break a screen play.

Defense vs. Defense

Defensive Turnovers: 1 fumble recovered, no sacks, no interceptions.

Note: The Redskins secondary gave up way too many big plays, but they were able to shut down Cadillac. If the Redskins decide to play the pass more cautiously this time, it could open up a gap for Cadillac.


Defensive Turnovers: 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovered.

Note: The Buccaneers defense were able to make plays in the first half, but did virtually nothing in the second half. Simeon Rice had 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 interception all by himself.

Special Teams vs. Special Teams

Ladell Betts: He came up with a big kick return for a touchdown.

The kick return was a game changer. If Washington had got an average return and stalled, the Buccaneers could have gone up 21-3 with another touchdown, virtually putting the game away.


Matt Bryant: He some how missed an chip shot field goal against the 49ers, but didn't get a chance to kick against the Redskins.

Note: The Buccaneers don't have horrible kick coverage. If they play their normal special teams as usual, there are no significant weaknesses.

Final Analysis
Washington Redskins vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There are still some question marks regarding Mark Brunell's health. He did not make any major mistakes in during their five-game winning streak to end the season, but Clinton Portis is the man who caught fire to add the extra "it" factor to Washington's offense.

Chris Cooley has emerged as of late and can become a more in integral part of the offense this time around. However, Brunell will not be able to get the secondary match-up he prefers for Santana Moss, forcing him to play small ball most of the game.

Defensively, the Redskins will not find it so easy to stop the running game this time. They have to respect the pass more often as Simms has gained experience, allowing Cadillac to find a little more room.

The Redskins can't rely on their special teams to bail them out early this time. They are not known for big plays, and just happened to catch a break with Betts' return.


There are those that would rather have Brian Griese still leading the Buccaneers ahead of Chris Simms. Although Simms is young, he has shown enough composure to lead the offense the past few weeks and has built a solid connection with Joey Galloway.

Getting Cadillac Williams started early is a must. Simms had success against the Redskins last time, but the Redskins will try to play the pass better this time. If Williams does not break some runs early, then the Redskins will get more pressure on Simms to force a mistake.

The Buccaneers defense is ranked first overall in the league. They are not a team that allows 35 points a game, and it'll show in this one after they make adjustments. They'll have to use some turnovers to make it easier for Simms in terms of field position. The Buccaneers have to make sure they don't give up a big special teams play, because it will infuriate their defense.

NFC Wildcard Prediction
Winner - Washington Redskins

A lot of people are expecting a complete turnaround from last time around, believing that this will be a defensive game all around. Both teams have good defenses and good offenses. Their defenses will play better, but not enough to completely shut down each other. This game will come down to the experience at the quarterback position. Mark Brunell has playoff experience, while Simms will feel the pressure of trying to win his first. It should come down to the last second, where Clinton Portis will come through with another big run and the touchdown. Final Score: Redskins 24, Buccaneers 23.

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