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Redskins Enjoy Some Prime Time

October 02, 2000|From Associated Press

LANDOVER, Md. — It was finally time for Prime Time--just as he promised.

Deion Sanders, whose first four games with the Washington Redskins were decidedly unspectacular, returned a punt 57 yards in overtime to set up Michael Husted's 20-yard field goal, giving the Redskins a 20-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

It was retribution for Sanders, 33, who until Sunday hadn't come close to living up to the $57-million, seven-year deal he signed last summer with Washington, although he kept promising he would.

And it was retribution for Husted, who spent the first six years of his career with Tampa Bay and had a 35-yard field-goal attempt blocked by Warren Sapp with 43 seconds to play, enabling Tampa Bay to tie the score in regulation.

The victory gave Washington its second consecutive victory after a 1-2 start and handed Tampa Bay its second loss after a 3-0 start. If the two should meet in the playoffs, Washington will have home-field advantage, as the Buccaneers did last season when they beat the Redskins, 14-13, to advance to the conference title game.

"We're playing hard but we're not playing well enough to win," said Sapp, who was benched for the first quarter for unspecified disciplinary reasons. "We turned the ball over, we didn't play well on special teams and we didn't stop a good running back. It cost us a ballgame."

The Redskins appeared to have the game won when Darrell Green stripped Keyshawn Johnson of the ball at the Tampa Bay 26, setting up a nine-yard touchdown pass from Brad Johnson to Larry Centers that gave Washington a 17-7 lead with 3:50 to play.

But Shaun King threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Reidel Anthony on a play on which he was stripped of the ball by Bruce Smith, but picked it up and found Anthony alone behind the Washington defense.

Washington recovered Tampa Bay's onside kick and moved to field-goal range, but Husted's attempt was blocked.

Then the Buccaneers, starting with 43 seconds left, moved 51 yards in six plays, the last of which was a 19-yard pass to Johnson. As the Buccaneers lined up to spike the ball, Marco Coleman was still on the Tampa Bay side of the ball and was called for being offside, moving the ball five yards closer for Martin Gramatica's 42-yard field goal that tied the score as time expired.

The game was dominated by Washington's defense and the running of Stephen Davis, who had 141 yards in 28 carries. Coleman had three sacks and LaVar Arrington, the second pick in the draft, got his first in the NFL and had a second negated by a penalty.

"We were being judged by this game," Coleman said. "The way we won helped us out. No one can say now that we can't win the close game."

Tampa Bay scored first--typically with its defense. Leon McFarland sacked Johnson, and Damien Robinson recovered at the Washington 25. Five plays later, Mike Alstott went in from the two to give the Buccaneers a 7-0 lead with 1:38 to play in the first period.

Davis tied the score with a 50-yard run with 3:14 left in the half.

Husted's 29-yard field goal on Washington's first possession of the second half made the score 10-7. It was set up by a 58-yard, 10-play drive.

Tampa Bay maneuvered into field-goal position late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, driving from its own 11 to the Washington 22. But Gramatica's 40-yard field-goal attempt to tie the score hooked wide, leaving the Buccaneers still trailing, 10-7.

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