UPDATED: 10:00 p.m.
In the end it is still just preseason and what the Washington Redskins do this month will matter little when the games begin in earnest on Sept. 9.
But dominating the competition in exhibition contests is far better than the alternative. The Redskins thumped the Buffalo Bills 30-7 on Saturday afternoon at FedEx Field.
Wide receiver Pierre Garcon caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Rex Grossman, who completed 11 of 21 throws for 171 yards. Kicker Kai Forbath hit three field-goal attempts and quarterback Pat White added a touchdown run of his own in the decisive victory. Washington (3-0) remains unbeaten in the preseason.
“It’s good to put on good film,” Redskins tight end Fred Davis said. “And then you get to go back and watch it and see stuff you can do better and add to it.”
The win again came at a cost, however. Kick returner and defensive back Richard Crawford sustained an LCL tear in his left knee and possibly an ACL tear, too, according to Washington coach Mike Shanahan. Crawford is out for the rest of the season.
“We’ve got the next man up,” said Redskins defensive back Josh Wilson. “That’s what you’ve got to be able to do in the NFL. One guy goes down and the next man has to be able to step up and take a swing.”
Crawford was going to be Washington’s primary punt returner and provided solid depth at right corner back. That’s gone now and the search for a new return man begins immediately.
That loss comes on the heels of an injury-marred win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last Monday where quarterback Kirk Cousins (sprained right foot) and starting nose tackle Barry Cofield (fractured right hand) were hurt. Neither played on Saturday against the Bills.
[Crawford] had an outstanding offseason, really made a lot of plays in the passing game, intercepting balls, breaking up a lot of passes,” Redskins linebacker London Fletcher said. “He played well in the previous two preseason games…He’s a guy that works hard, he studies film. He really worked on his craft and wanted to prove something. It’s a tough blow for him.”
Washington looked crisp on its first possession of the game – a 10-play, 86-yard drive that ended with a Garcon reception in traffic on a slant pass for a touchdown.
Buffalo answered immediately with a scoring drive of its own. Running back C.J. Spiller finished a 10-play drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. A 25-yard pass interference penalty on rookie corner back David Amerson helped keep that drive alive. Spiller added a 19-yard run on that possession.
Grossman, starting for Cousins, completed 3-of-5 passes on the next drive. He was bailed out by wide receiver Santana Moss, whose terrific catch over the middle went for 45 yards. That put the Redskins in scoring position and Forbath drilled his first field goal attempt from 28 yards.
Grossman played through the first possession of the second quarter before giving way to White. But he returned to start the third quarter as the two alternated series in the second half.
“No excuses or anything,” Grossman said. “You just go out there, the ball is snapped, doesn’t matter if you played the previous series or not. You’re gonna have some good series and some bad and hopefully you just capitalize when you get out there. Starting off well definitely helps.”
With Cousins out and Robert Griffin III also not participating in preseason games as he recovers from knee surgery, Washington got an extended look at White. He led a nine-play, 83-yard scoring drive in the second quarter that put the Redskins up 17-7. White capped it with a 14-yard touchdown run to the left side.
“Every little bit helps,” White said. “It happens in practice and I guess it’s similar to the games where first string gets most of the reps and backups have to come in and be able to perform to the best of your abilities.”
Late in the first half, Forbath drilled a 53-yard kick with 1:09 remaining that put Washington ahead 20-7. Forbath also recorded two touchbacks and added a 21-yard field goal with 1:55 left in the third quarter.
An otherwise uneventful third quarter was given a jolt when Nickell Robey fumbled a Sav Rocca punt at the 5-yard line. Vic So’oto recovered the ball. That set up Forbath’s third field goal of the game.
Keiland Williams’ short touchdown run at 11:05 of the fourth quarter ended the scoring for the day.
“I was impressed with our football team – especially with two days less preparation time,” Shanahan said. “For them to come out and play as hard as they did and as well as they did, there were a bunch of positive things.”