Thank goodness it was only preseason, and the 30-12 final score didn’t count, because in the Bucs’ preseason finale against the Washington Redskins, they were clearly outmatched from the get-go.
Just 1:49 into the game, the Redskins jumped on the board with a 1-yard touchdown run from Evan Royster, set up by a 66-yard reception by former Buc Dezmon Briscoe.
The Bucs tried to keep pace with the ‘Skins, answering with what would have been a 105-yard punt return for a touchdown from Eric Page. A holding call negated the play and the Bucs were forced to begin their opening drive at the Tampa Bay 14.
“The hole opened up, and I was thinking ‘great,'” Page recalled. “All I had to do was run for the daylight and towards the end I got a little tired but I needed to make the play.”
“The flag happens; it’s part of the game. I’ve been doing kick returns my whole life. I’m going to expect it. I’m not going to have every kick return perfect so I know we’re going to clean it up as a team and eventually take one back.”
It took rookie quarterback Mike Glennon until the end of the first quarter to complete a single 2-yard pass to tight end Luke Stocker.
The Bucs went three-and-out on that drive, and surrendered another big play, this time to former Florida State standout Chris Thompson.
Thompson returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown. A fringe player somewhat buried on the Redskins’ depth chart, Thompson may have secured himself a roster spot with that move.
“After I saw Keiland Williams’ block. I told him, as soon as I got on the sideline, that I thanked him for making that block, because that really got it started,” Thompson said. “After he made that block, I was like, ‘I think I’ve got a chance to make it in the end zone.’”
The Buccaneer offense failed to get the ball into the end zone. The only touchdown for Tampa Bay came on a 37-yard pick-6 from Najee Goode, a product of West Virginia who intercepted his college teammate, Pat White.
“I was reading the quarterback’s eyes and I stepped with the ball, [like] Coach Schiano teaches,” Goode said. “I got my hands on the first one. When the second one came around, I just made sure I put my thumbs together and just ran for my life.”
“He was talking all during the game. I told him, ‘You score a touchdown, I got to score one too.’ After, he was [mad], but he said if he was going to throw it to anybody, he might as well throw it to me.”
White completed 13 of 22 passes for 181 yards passing, and the interception. On the ground, he contributed 20 yards rushing, including a 7-yard touchdown to put Washington up 27-6 in the first half.
Goode finished the game with a team-leading seven combined tackles and two pass breakups.
Quarterback Mike Glennon, who some thought could eventually unseat Josh Freeman as the starter, finished the night completing 7 of 16 passes for 63 passing yards, and an interception thrown to his own college teammate, David Amerson.
“It was a tough one for our offense and that starts with me. I have to play better, but the bright spot of this is that this is preseason and everything is still a learning experience for me. So even though I knew I didn’t play real well, I’ll learn from this and because of it, I’ll be a better player,” Glennon said.
“Tonight was the first time he looked like a rookie; he struggled a little bit,” head coach Greg Schiano said. “It’s not just him, obviously, but I’m sure, when he watches this, he’ll say, ‘I wish I would have done this and done that.’ And some thing he’s already done, so he’ll go back and look at it and get better from it.”
Schiano said that while the team was disappointed with the loss, he was pleased with the way certain players adapted on-the-fly, particularly when injuries occurred and players had to leave.
Injuries to both Mike James and Peyton Hillis meant Mason Robinson, a cornerback who was recruited to play running back at Rutgers, lined up in the backfield. Robinson rushed for 12 yards on nine carries.
“We all want to win the game, we’re all competitors, but at that point it was, ‘Let’s see if we can not make too many mistakes here with guys that haven’t played,'” said Schiano.
“There were some individual battles that were good that we had to figure out, and I have a feeling this tape is really going to help us in those battles that we are very, very close at certain positions.”
Dan Orlovsky, who can in to relieve Glennon, completed 1 of 5 passing attempts for 7 yards.
Eric Page led the team with two catches for 25 yards receiving.
The Buccaneer defense surrendered 311 total yards on offense.
As expected, cornerback Darrelle Revs did not participate in the final preseason game. Schiano said it was a mutual decision for him to sit.
Running back Mike James (eye), Peyton Hillis (ankle), Rashaan Melvin (hamstring), and Tom Crabtree (ankle) all left the game with injuries. Crabtree was carted off the field. X-rays on his injury came back negative, meaning they did not reveal a fracture. Schiano said he was not sure of the extent of the injury.
Rian Lindell made a 50-yard field goal, which could have solidified his job as the starting kicker, while Derek Dimke missed a PAT.
Kai Forbath, who spent last year’s training camp with the Bucs, made three field goals for Washington, including a 47-yarder in the third quarter.