Tampa Bay Buccaneers
@ Washington Redskins
Sunday, Dec 12, 2010, 1 P.M. EST
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Calling the Redskins season tumultuous may be an understatement. Washington had high expectations going into the season with new head coach Mike Shannan at the helm and fresh face franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb under center ready to lead the Skins to the promised land. Since then, McNabb has been benched during a two-minute drill in favor of Rex Grossman and the subsequent media storm created by his benching forced the owners into extending his contract. They then were absolutely embarrassed by Michael Vick and the Eagles on Monday Night Football, and most recently head coach Mike Shannan has suspended their former All-Pro defensive tackle big money free-agent Albert Haynesworth for the remainder of the season.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers have well exceeded expectations and find themselves with a potential playoff berth on the line. At 7-5, the Bucs will be looking to snap their first two game losing streak of the season by heading out on the road where they have been very successful (4-2) all season long. Coming off a tough loss to Atlanta last week and dealing with quarterback Josh Freeman's second shaky game, the Buccaneers will need to put a heavy focus on running the ball as that seems to have been the key to success against Washington the past few weeks.
Washington who has won only once in its previous five games has been run over lately by opposing running backs. The New York Giants hammered the Redskins defensive front last week as Ahmad Bradshaw racked up 97 rushing yards and Brandon Jacobs tallied 103, both with a pair of touchdowns. Expect to see a heavy dose of LeGarrette Blount and Cadillac Williams this week as the Buccaneers will hope to take some pressure of their young struggling quarterback as well as their banged up defense.
The loss of Cody Grim at safety two weeks ago was only the beginning for the Bucs, who again suffered critical injuries in defeat last week against Atlanta. Star conerback Aqib Talib will miss the rest of the season with a hip injury making a thin secondary even more of a question mark. Talib will be replaced by EJ Biggers who has played well in limited action, and the Buccaneers will need to use Myron Lewis more in nickel situations. Neither player is going to replicate Talib's level of play but Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris has consistently praised his teams ability to respond in the face of injuries.
"I've been really encouraged by the way the guys have responded, how they've played, with these guys moving around positions, playing different spots" Morris said during his Monday press conference when addressing questions regarding the mounting injury report. Center Jeff Faine, also out for the season, is likely to be spelled by Jeremy Zuttah who manned the position in Faines absence earlier in the season and rookie Derek Hardman will see more playing time at right guard with Davin Joseph also on IR with a broken foot.
For the Buccaneers they desperately need a win to keep pace in an NFC playoff race that they may be falling out of. The Redskins who have lost four straight to NFC teams just may be the best medicine for the Bucs who have feasted on lesser teams all season long.