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THE NFL / 1996

Woes Continue for Struggling Redskins, 24-10

December 09, 1996|From Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — The Washington Redskins may be at a loss to explain what has happened after such a good start, but they know exactly what happened Sunday in a 24-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"We played like babies," Redskin linebacker Marvcus Patton said. "We didn't tackle. We didn't chase down people. We let it slip away."

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushed for a season-high 209 yards--117 above their average--while feeding the NFL's worst run defense a steady diet of Errict Rhett and Mike Alstott.

Trent Dilfer threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jackie Harris, Alstott scored on a 13-yard run and Michael Husted kicked three field goals for Tampa Bay (5-9). The Buccaneers won for the fifth time in nine games since starting 0-5 under first-year Coach Tony Dungy.

"It's not so much how you start, but how you finish," Buccaneer defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. "Right now, I think we're one of the better teams in this league. It feels awful good to go out and dominate a good football team."

Washington a good football team? The Redskins (8-6) have lost five of their last six games after starting 7-1.

They began the day tied with Dallas for first in the NFC East, despite being last in the league against the run (giving up nearly 144 yards per game) and 30th in total defense.

The loss was their third in a row and jeopardized their chances of making the playoffs and finishing with a winning record for the first time since Joe Gibbs retired as coach after the 1992 season.

"The playoffs?" Redskin Coach Norv Turner asked. "That's the furthest thing from my mind. My main thought is how to play a good football game."

Rhett figured to be a big part of Tampa Bay's game plan, considering two of his eight 100-yard days as a pro have come against Washington, including a 192-yard effort as a rookie in 1994.

The third-year tailback, who sat out the Buccaneers' first seven games in a contract dispute, gained a season-high 97 yards in 28 carries.

Alstott, the rookie fullback who leads Tampa Bay in receiving, had 67 yards in eight carries. Even Dilfer got into the act, averaging more than nine yards a carry before taking a knee on the last play of the game.

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