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Redskins defeat Tampa Bay 29-24 in preseason finale

John Beck entered yesterday evening’s preseason finale as the presumptive favorite to win the Redskins starting quarterback job. But, unfortunately for Redskins fans, his performance left us with more questions than answers about who the starting quarterback would be, when the team opens the season on September 11th against the New York Giants.

Beck played the entire first half last night, finishing with 10 completions on 21 attempts for 108 yards and an interception, good enough for a sub-par 43.4 passer rating.

Both teams spent most of the first quarter trading punts with each other, as the Redskins defense held the Buccaneers offense to two first downs (and one came as a result of a defensive penaliy). On Tampa Bay’s third offensive position, outside linebacker Rob Jackson sacked Buccaneer’s quarterback Rudy Carpenter, who started for Tampa Bay as Josh Freeman, along most of the team’s starters, was given the night off. Jackson’s hit on Carpenter caused the quarterback to fumble the football, which was recovered by rookie linebacker Markus White, and returned to the Tampa Bay two yard line.

Three plays later, Redskins rookie running back Evan Royster (who started with the first team offense last night) punched the ball in for a one yard touchdown run.

After another short drive by the Buccaneers, which ultimately ended up in a punt, Brandon Banks returned said punt 95 yards the other way for a touchdown. The play went to booth review, as it appeared that Banks may have lost possession of the ball just prior to crossing the goal line (as a result of a premature celebration), but the replay officials upheld the orginal touchdown ruling.

On the very first play of the ensuing Tampa drive, cornerback Josh Wilson – one of only two presumed opening day starters on defense that also started yesterday evening (Adam Carriker was the other) – intercepted an overthrown pass from Carpenter, giving the Redskins offense another short field to work with.

Beck threw a beautiful pass (under heavy pressure from a blitz) to Donte Stallworth for a 16 yard completion to convert a third and long, but the drive soon stalled, and the Redskins had to settle for a 22 yard field goal from Graham Gano.

The Buccaneers tacked on a field goal of their own just before the half, cutting the score to 17-3 at the intermission. They drove 31 yard on seven plays. The drive started on their own 20 yard line, as a result of an interception thrown by Beck in the endzone, on an attempt intended for rookie receiver Niles Paul.

Reserve Matt Gutierrez – notably, not Rex Grossman – then came out as the Redskins quarterback after halftime yesterday. He finished 4 of 7 for 34 yards, and also threw an interception in the endzone on his first drive under center. He did, however, lead the Redskins on a drive that ended up in another field goal by Gano, in the 3rd quarter.

Gano added another field goal in the fourth quarter after Tampa Bay muffed a punt return, giving the Redskins the ball deep in Tampa territory. Carpenter and the Buccaneers responded with their own drive that went down the four yard line of the Redskins, but the defense held them to a field goal as well, cutting the lead to 23-16.

After a three and out by the Redskins – Kellen Clemens had now entered the game – the Buccaneers, lead by quarterback Jonathan Crompton, put together a three play, 60 yard drive that resulted in a touchdown. On the drive, Crompton’s deep pass intended for receiver Ed Gant ended up in a pass interference call on cornerback Reggie Jones, which gave the ball to the Buccaneers on the Redskins 20 yard line. Crompton then hit running back Anthony Allen for a 20 completion for the score on the very next play.

Tampa Bay went for two after the touchdown – most teams avoid having to play overtime in the preseason – and Crompton connected with Gant for the conversion, putting the Buccaneers up 24-23.

Clemens then got a shot to run the Redskins two-minute offense (he got the ball back with 2:07 left). After two throwing completions to Leonard Hankerson, and benefitting from a roughing the passer penalty on Tampa Bay, Clemens led the Redskins to the Buccaneers 41 yard line. He then completed a deep throw to Donte Stallworth for a 41 yard score with just over one minute remaining in the game, giving the Redskins a 29-24 (Clemens pass to Paul on the two point conversion attempt fell incomplete). Tampa Bay’s final comeback attempted ended on the Redskins 39 yard line, as the clock hit zero.

The Redskins finished the preaseason with a 3-1 record, and there is sure to be plenty of chatter regarding who should and will be the starting quarterback when they take on the New York Giants in the regular season opener. The game will take place on Sunday, September 11th; kickoff is set for 4:15pm.

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