Six turnovers, to be precise. They came early (two fumbles in the first three plays, four fumbles in the first sixteen plays) and they came late (two INTs in the fourth quarter). Campbell's strong second-half effort was once again undone by an interception in the endzone in the waning seconds.
With virtually no offense in the first half, the defense exhausted themselves holding the Bucs to only nineteen points. The Redskins came roaring out of the break and scored a TD immediately. The defense suddenly became a dominant unit, forcing a three-and-out on all four of Tampa's second half possessions.
I have been vocal in my criticism of excessive timidity on the part of the Redskins on 4th and short situations. Today, they converted on 2 of 3 4th down opportunities (see?) and only punted twice after averaging 4.6 punts per game this season (and over five punts per game last season). Certainly, committing six turnovers plays into Washington's punting opportunities.
There will certainly be some discussion about the decision by Gibbs to go for the first down on 4th and 1 on the Tampa 4 yard line. Hindsight revisionism says that if they had kicked that one, they would only have needed a FG to win in the closing seconds. But this is not true; after the failed conversion the Bucs were pinned deep and went three and out. The Redskins drove down and picked up a FG. But if the Redskins had scored, the score (at the time) would have been 17-19, with all momentum of a diesel train.
Gibbs made the right decision to go for the win. The playcall wasn't good (no QB sneak?), and the line was beaten at the point of attack.
In other news, Mike "Rat Boy" Shanahan's Broncos lost to the Bears in overtime solely due to his decision to kick to Devin Hester. The man with eight return TDs in 25 games now has ten return TDs in 26 games. While the Bears offense is somehow worse than last year, and the defense has lost their teeth, Chicago's special teams remain the best in the league. They also blocked a kick in this one.
With the NFC wild card race unable to light the proverbial fire under the contenders, any team which can rip off a few wins in a row should take it. That 5-6 Fudgefests are still "in the hunt" is perhaps not exactly what the NFL was looking for in their Parity quest.