Back on Week 10, the story line was one of defense. When the Redskins traveled to Tampa Bay on Nov. 13, defenses were expected to dominate.
It was Gregg Williams versus Monte Kiffin insofar as the matchup of sharp defensive coordinators. It was Phillip Daniels and Marcus Washington and Shawn Springs for the Redskins. It was Simeon Rice and Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber for Tampa Bay.
With all of that defensive talent, you would have thought the final score would have been something like 7-6. Maybe 10-8 in overtime.
So much for that logic. Tampa Bay edged the Redskins that day in Raymond James Stadium 36-35 in a game in which offenses dominated and Mike Alstott's disputed two-point conversion run finished things off.
Basically, that's in keeping with the history of the Redskins and the Bucs head-to-head. In recent years, it's been a series in which you can expect the unexpected.
- In the second round of the 1999 playoffs, the Redskins were eliminated 14-13 at Tampa Bay. You remember the bad snap at the end of the game but another unusual play proved decisive. With the Redskins up 13-7 and about 13 minutes left, Shawn Barber sacked Tampa Bay QB Shaun King and forced a fumble at the Redskins' 25. The ball took a goofy hop. Bucs running back Warrick Dunn not only benefited from the fortunate bounce but also picked up 13 yards in the game's key sequence.
- In that same 1999 second-round game, seven plays after Dunn's fumble recovery, King found backup tight end John Davis for the one-yard TD that ended the Redskins' playoff run. It was the lone catch of the entire season for Davis.
- Warren Sapp was the unquestioned vocal leader of the Tampa Bay team that visited FedExField on Oct. 1, 2000. Following their 1999 setback in the playoffs, the Redskins were looking for revenge against Sapp and the Bucs. But Sapp sat out the first quarter of that emotional game after having been disciplined by head coach Tony Dungy. Sparked by Deion Sanders' 57-yard punt return, the Redskins won in overtime 20-17.
- In the days leading up to the Oct. 12, 2003 affair at FedExField, LaVar Arrington warned Sapp not to skip through the Redskins' stretching line at pre-game. It didn't happen, of course. When the game began, the Redskins gave the defending Super Bowl champs all they could handle for three quarters and trailed just 14-13. It looked like a game that would go down to the wire. Tampa Bay, despite missing key players Alstott, Joe Jurevicius, Brian Kelly and Shelton Quarles due to injuries, put up a 21-point fourth quarter barrage to win going away 35-13. Ex-Redskin Brad Johnson threw two touchdown passes to unheralded tight end Todd Yoder and still another to another unheralded tight end in Will Heller.
- In the 2004 opener at FedExField, Clinton Portis got off to a fast start with a 64-yard TD run on his first carry as a Redskin. Speedy wide receiver and return specialist Joey Galloway posed a serious potential threat to the Redskins, but in the second quarter, Galloway suffered a groin strain and had to sit out. He caught just one pass (for no gain) in a matchup the Redskins won 16-10.
So, when you're sizing up Saturday afternoon's Redskins-Bucs 2005 post-season confrontation, it's best to remember that some quirky factors may emerge.
When these two teams meet, it seems logic can take you only so far. Oddities seem to rise up.
Who would have thought this year's Nov. 13 game would wind up at 36-35, with 729 yards of total offense? It had been billed, rightly so, as a defensive showdown.