Redskins' defense leads Washington past Tampa Bay

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Joe Gibbs' teams have a knack for peaking at

the right time, and these Washington Redskins are no different.

It was over when ...

Redskins linebacker Marcus Washington intercepted Chris Simms' pass that was intended for Joey Galloway with a minute to go in the game.

Game ball goes to ...

The Redskins' defense. With Washington's offense completely stalled in the second half, the defense got two huge fourth-down stops with the Bucs poised to tie the game. Then, on Tampa Bay's last-gasp possession, Marcus Washington's interception sealed the win. Oh, and safety Sean Taylor returned a fumble 51 yards for a touchdown in the first half.

With the Hall of Fame coach back in the playoffs for the first

time in 13 years, the Redskins -- at least on defense -- looked like

a Super Bowl contender again in beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

17-10 in the NFC wild-card round Saturday.

The victory was the sixth straight for the Redskins (11-6), who

won despite gaining only 120 yards on offense -- the lowest total in

NFL history for a winning team in a postseason game, according to

the Elias Sports Bureau.

"It's been a tough fight these last six weeks," said

linebacker Marcus Washington, who recovered a fumble and had a

fourth-quarter interception. "We ain't ready to go home yet, so

we're going to keep sawing wood."

LaVar Arrington's interception set up Clinton Portis' 6-yard

touchdown run, and Sean Taylor returned a fumble 51 yards for

another first-quarter score for the Redskins, who rebounded from a

three-game losing streak to win five straight to get into the


"I go to work with a great bunch of guys, and they have a lot

of fight to them," Gibbs said after his first playoff game since a

divisional-round loss to San Francisco on Jan. 9, 1993. "They

never gave up no matter what the circumstances."

Taylor was later ejected for spitting in the face of a Bucs

player, further depleting an injury-riddled unit that held off two

Tampa Bay scoring threats in the closing minutes, including a near

catch in the end zone that could have tied the game with just less

than three minutes to go.

Chris Simms lofted a perfect spiral to Edell Shepherd on

third-and-10 from the Washington 35, but the Tampa Bay receiver

lost control of the ball as he was coming down in the end zone.

Simms, unaware the pass was ruled incomplete, began celebrating

near the sideline -- and the Bucs' stadium crew set off premature

fireworks. Tampa Bay asked for a video review, burning its final

timeout, but the call was correctly upheld by instant replay.

"It's unfortunate," coach Jon Gruden said. "He was open, he

had his hands on the ball, and he was in the end zone."

The Redskins advanced to a divisional round game next Saturday

at Seattle (13-3). They also avenged a 36-35 loss to Tampa Bay

(11-6) this season, a game the Bucs won on Mike Alstott's 2-point

conversion run with less than a minute remaining.

"This is great," quarterback Mark Brunell said. "We've played

our best football in December, and to get a playoff win on the

road, as you know, is very difficult to do. Our defense was

incredible. You can't say enough about them. They won the game for


Gibbs, who came out of retirement two years ago, took over sole

possession of third place on the career playoff wins list for a

coach, improving to 17-5 in the postseason, including three Super

Bowl titles during his first stint with the Redskins from 1981-92.

The Hall of Famer is known as an offensive innovator, but the

Redskins were outgained in this one 243-120.

"Our guys on offense were giving it everything we had," Gibbs

said. "We tried a little bit of everything, and we couldn't get

anything to work."

Brunell went 7-of-15 passing for 43 yards and one interception,

and Portis was limited to 53 yards rushing on 15 carries -- stopping

his streak of consecutive 100-yard games at five.

Simms threw for 198 yards in his first playoff start for Tampa

Bay but was intercepted twice and sacked three times.

The Bucs were stopped on downs when Simms threw an incompletion

on fourth-and-1 at the Washington 18 midway through the fourth


Tampa Bay's Brian Kelly intercepted Brunell's pass at the

Redskins 35 four plays later. But Simms was stopped again when

Shepherd failed to make his potential game-tying catch on third

down, and the quarterback overthrew the same receiver in the end

zone on fourth down.

The Bucs got one more chance, taking over at their 46 after a

14-yard punt with 1:05 to go. But Simms' first-down pass was tipped

at the line and intercepted by Washington, and the Redskins ran out

the clock.

"I don't even know if it's sunk in yet," Arrington said.

"This is unbelievable, to come and win in such a great arena.


Gibbs came out of retirement in 2004, and it's only taken him

two years to rebuild a franchise that made the playoffs once during

his 11 seasons away from football -- and that trip ended with a

14-13 loss at Tampa Bay in the divisional round six years ago.

Arrington picked off Simms' first pass of the game and returned

it 21 yards to the Tampa Bay 6 to set up Portis' TD run on the next

play for a 7-0 lead. Less than five minutes later, the Redskins'

defense struck again.

Washington stopped Carnell "Cadillac" Williams for a 1-yard

gain, forcing a fumble that the linebacker recovered before

scrambling to his feet and taking off with the ball.

Tampa Bay's Dan Buenning punched the ball loose from Washington

at the 41 before Taylor scooped it up at the 49 and raced to the

end zone for a 14-0 lead. The Bucs challenged the TD, arguing that

Washington was down by contact when he recovered the ball, but the

score was upheld by replay.

After the teams exchanged field goals, Tampa Bay trailed 17-3 at

halftime. But the Bucs drove 51 yards in seven plays on their first

possession of the third quarter to trim the deficit to 17-10 on

Simms' 1-yard run.

The Redskins' defense, already without injured cornerback Shawn

Springs, lost defensive end Renaldo Wynn with a broken right

forearm in the first quarter and was further depleted when Taylor

was tossed for spitting in the face of Michael Pittman as the two

stood face-to-face after a 3-yard scramble by Simms in the third


Pittman hit Taylor in retaliation, but referee Mike Carey did

not penalize the Tampa Bay running back.

"There was a lot of trash-talking the whole game," Pittman

said. "He spit in my face, and no man is going to spit in my face.

... He'd get a lot worse if it was on the street."Game notes
Taylor declined to speak with reporters after the game. ...

Gibbs snapped a tie with Chuck Noll for third on the career playoff

wins list. Tom Landry is first with 20, followed by Don Shula at