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Redskins-Bucs: 4 Keys To the Game Presented by Papa John's

65135.jpg breaks down some of the key matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday's Redskins-Buccaneers game at FedExField.

"Redskins-Buccaneers: 4 Keys to the Game" is presented by Papa John's.

Every Monday, fans can order a large cheese pizza for only $9.99, plus for each touchdown that the Redskins score, fans get one free topping. And with a Redskins victory, fans get double the toppings.


Clinton Portis vs. Buccaneers Run Defense

Portis got off to a fast start this season, breaking loose on a 34-yard run on his first carry in Week 1. Since then, he is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry.

As a team, the Redskins are ranked 24th in the NFL in rushing yards through three games. Portis has 183 rushing yards on 43 carries. (He also has four catches for 25 yards.)

Getting Portis back on track is paramount. He is listed as questionable for the Buccaneers game with a calf injury and Jim Zorn has called him a "game time decision."

Zorn indicated this week that the Redskins' offense is going to focus more on running the ball. When Portis rushes for 100 yards in a game, the Redskins are 21-4.

As for Tampa Bay, these are not the Buccaneers of the early part of this decade when Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice and Derrick Brooks patrolled the defense.

The Buccaneers are ranked 30th in total defense and 31st in run defense. Middle linebacker Barrett Ruud leads the defense with 47 tackles.

Portis has produced some big games against Tampa Bay in the past. In a 2004 game, he posted 148 yards and a touchdown in a 16-10 win at FedExField. A year later, he had 144 yards and a touchdown in a 36-35 loss in Tampa Bay.


Redskins Pass Rush vs. Josh Johnson

For the second week in a row, the Redskins face an inexperienced quarterback in second-year player Johnson. He is making his first NFL start, replacing veteran Byron Leftwich.

Through three games, the defense has just four sacks--one each by Andre Carter, Albert Haynesworth, Brian Orakpo and Cornelius Griffin.




The defensive focus is to contain Johnson in the pocket and pressure him into mistakes.

The 6-3, 213-pounder was an effective passer in college, completing 68.1 percent of his throws for 9,324 yards, 105 touchdowns and 15 interceptions at the University of San Diego.

Johnson uses his mobility to make plays as well. He posted 1,822 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns in college.

The Redskins are still smarting over the 21-yard scramble by Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford last week on a 3rd-and-13 play. They don't want to let Johnson make similar plays.


Redskins Kick Coverage vs. Clifton Smith

The Redskins' kick coverage units are once again among the best in the league.

Through three games, Redskins' kickoff coverage is ranked first in the NFL, yielding just 14.9 yards per return. Punt coverage is tied for second in the NFL, allowing 3.8 yards per return.

H.B. Blades, Reed Doughty and Byron Westbrook are the top tacklers on special teams in the early going this year.

They face a challenge in Smith, a quick and elusive runner who earned a Pro Bowl berth in 2008 as the Buccaneers kick returner.

Last year, Smith posted a 27.6-yard average on kick returns and had a 97-yard return for a touchdown. On punt returns, he had a 14.1-yard average, including a 70-yarder returned for a touchdown.

The Buccaneers are ranked eighth in the league in punt and kickoff returns so far this year. Smith has a 26.8-yard return average on kickoffs and a 10.4-yard return average on punts.


Brian Orakpo vs. Kellen Winslow

Orakpo has shown signs of improvement in pass coverage, but he remains a work in progress. Last week, he was beaten on a 24-yard pass late in the fourth quarter in what turned out to be a critical play.

Orakpo, who has eight tackles and a sack so far this season, is likely to get some help from safeties LaRon Landry and Reed Doughty when he lines up against Winslow.

Winslow has provided an offensive spark for the Buccaneers. He leads the team with 15 catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns.

Rocky McIntosh may also be called into coverage on Winslow depending on where the 6-4, 240-pound tight end lines up.

Pass completions to tight ends comprise 35 percent of the Buccaneers offense. (Jerramy Stevens, Winslow's backup, is tied for second on the team with eight catches for 71 yards and a TD.)

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