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Special Teams Mistakes Cost Redskins


One special teams play per quarter. For the Redskins, that was the difference between winning and losing on Sunday vs. Tampa Bay.

Convert those plays, and the Redskins would likely have recorded their sixth win of the season instead of a crushing 17-16 loss to the Buccaneers.

In the first quarter, after forcing a Tampa Bay punt, the Redskins moved into field goal range. Kicker Graham Gano missed a 34-yarder that bounced off the left upright.

Then, in the 2nd quarter, Gano missed a 24-yarder wide left.

"I've never had that bad of a game in my life," Gano said. "I thought they were good both times. They felt good off my foot. Normally I can tell if it's not a good kick so when I looked up on both of the ones I missed, I was shocked. I thought they were good kicks."

On the second kick, the snap may have been a little high, according to long snapper Nick Sundberg.

To open the second half, another reliable player committed a gaffe. Linebacker and special teams ace Chris Wilson fumbled a short squib kick and the ball was recovered by Tampa Bay. The turnover led to a Buccaneers field goal.

"This team emphasizes watching the ball," Wilson said. "I [saw] the ball kicked and it didn't seem that hot, meaning it wasn't going that fast. I tried to grab it and just get up field and get as much as I could get.

"I didn't quite get it and I thought I had more time than what I had. I tried to pick it up again and when I didn't get it the second time, I tried to fall on it."

It was Buccaneers linebacker Adam Hayward who came up with the ball.

"It was a big play and a big deal coming from a player like myself who considers himself one of the core guys on special teams," Wilson said. "At the end of the day, I'm not a kickoff returner. At the end of the day, my job is to keep the ball secure and I failed to do that."

No matter what plays were missed early, the last meaningful play of the game could have wiped the slate clean and forced overtime.

After a 13-play, 75 yard drive culminated with quarterback Donovan McNabb tossing a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Santana Moss, the Redskins only needed to tack on the extra point.

Redskins fans in the stands went from cheers to gasps as the snap went through the hands of punter Hunter Smith and over the head of Gano.

"Feel-wise, I think it was a little higher than I want it to be," Sundberg said of the snap to Smith. "Conditions and everything don't help Hunter in that position so unfortunately it was a little higher than I want it to be."

Smith, the 12-year veteran, also didn't point to the weather and he refused to complain about the snap.

"What I'm saying is, what happened is my fault," Smith said. "I have to catch the ball and put it down. It's a situation you get put into as a professional. I've been doing this a long time. I've caught a lot of high snaps. I've caught a lot of snaps in the rain and I dropped this one – and we lost the game."

The Redskins made some big plays in Sunday's game against the Buccaneers, but they were undermined by the routine ones.

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