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Archuleta again gets passed over
TAMPA, Fla. -- As if things couldn't get any worse for Washington Redskins safety Adam Archuleta, he had to experience this indignity in yesterday's 20-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The coaches chose to play journeyman Vernon Fox instead of him after Troy Vincent was lost with a hamstring injury.
Getting benched in favor of Vincent last month was bad enough for Archuleta, the $30 million free agent acquisition. But this was undoubtedly a low point.
Fox was signed late in training camp to provide help on special teams. He entered the Bucs game when Sean Taylor was shaken up.
"The next thing I know, Troy went down as well, so I ended up staying on the field," Fox said.
Fox had four tackles for the Redskins; he had only nine tackles entering the game.
"There's obviously things I can find that I need to do better, especially in a loss," he said. "I have to do my part by going in, watching the film and seeing what I need to improve on."
The severity of Vincent's injury was unavailable.
Fox said he had been in a couple of defensive packages with the first team recently but had seen little action during the season's first nine games.
"I had practice time, but game time is a different ballgame," he said. "I hope I can provide a spark when I'm called upon and be able to fill in enough that we don't lose a beat."
Archuleta, who didn't play a defensive snap at Philadelphia last week, was on the field for a handful of plays yesterday but did not make a tackle.
"[Fox] came in late to training camp, and at this point of the year, we have to see what all of our guys can do," assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said.
Almost a big start
On Saturday night, Redskins associate head coach-offense Al Saunders told quarterback Jason Campbell that if the situation permitted, he would call a deep ball to Brandon Lloyd on the first snap.
"I was ready for it [yesterday], and I was pumped up about it," Campbell said. "I was able to visualize it like a dream."
And the conditions were perfect -- first-and-10 from the Redskins 26 -- but the result wasn't. Campbell threw the pass 60 yards in the air, but Lloyd was unable to haul it in for the long gain.
"It was one of those plays you wish you had [made], but once we didn't get it, I had to forget about it," Campbell said. "I know B-Lloyd and me are going to make a lot of plays together."
Said Lloyd, who later made two catches for 24 yards: "It was right there. I was looking at the officials hoping I could get a penalty out of it, but I was really upset with myself for not making that play for him."
The Redskins' third-quarter troubles didn't disappear, but they didn't improve either. They have been outscored 67-24 in that period this season.
Tied at 3-3 beginning the second half, the Redskins got possession first and put together a 12-play, 74-yard touchdown drive capped by Campbell's 3-yard pass to Chris Cooley to take their first lead.
It was the first time since Week 3 at Houston the Redskins had scored on their initial second-half possession. But the defense gave it right back as Tampa Bay tied the game again with a 14-play, 85-yard drive.
"Our guys put a special emphasis on starting fast in the third quarter, and I was really pleased to see us go down the field and get a touchdown," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "But then we allowed them to go down the field and score, too."
The last time the Redskins forced a turnover, the Nationals' season had just ended and those of the Capitals and Wizards had yet to start. But after waiting nearly six games -- 336 minutes, 11 seconds, to be precise -- since defensive end Phillip Daniels intercepted Jacksonville quarterback Byron Leftwich's pass for Reggie Williams with 1:19 left in the third quarter Oct. 1, Washington's defense finally took the ball away again.
The turnover that ended that run came when linebacker Marcus Washington fell on a fumbled snap by Buccaneers rookie quarterback Bruce Gradkowski with 11:45 left in the second quarter at the Washington 3. And it took just 11:09 for the defense to record its next takeaway as cornerback Shawn Springs saved at least three points by intercepting Gradkowski's pass for Joey Galloway at the Washington 3 with 36 seconds left in the quarter.
"We've been talking about turnovers for weeks, and we get two and still lose," said Daniels, shaking his head.
The Redskins signed Todd Yoder on Sept. 12, a week after the veteran tight end was cut by Jacksonville. Yoder played almost solely on special teams until yesterday, when he moved into the blocking role that became available when Christian Fauria was placed on injured reserve Saturday.
Yoder saw plenty of playing time yesterday and caught the 4-yard touchdown pass from Jason Campbell that closed Washington within 20-17 with 32 seconds remaining. That Yoder's first touchdown in three years came against the Bucs, for whom he played his first four seasons, made it even sweeter.
"It was nice, but it would have been a lot better if we would have won," said Yoder, who also had been the intended receiver on the pass into the end zone on the previous play. "I was just running the end line, and Jason threw a great ball. It was great to be able to get in there and try to help out and make a play."
Espy makes debut
With receivers Santana Moss and David Patten both inactive with hamstring injuries, rookie Mike Espy made his NFL debut yesterday for the Redskins. Espy, who signed with Washington after April's NFL Draft, led the Redskins with 10 catches in preseason for 102 yards and a touchdown. Espy, who finished in the top five all-time at Mississippi in catches, all-purpose yards and punt return yards, is the son of former agriculture secretary Mike Espy.
"I found out I was moving up [from the practice squad] after Friday's practice," Espy said. "I was pretty calm about it. I called my mom as soon as I left the building. She was more excited than me."
Espy played a handful of snaps on offense.
"It was fast," Espy said of the speed of the game. "But I felt like I fit."
Washington's other inactives were offensive lineman Taylor Whitley, defensive linemen Ryan Boschetti and Anthony Montgomery, cornerback Mike Rumph and safety Reed Doughty. Todd Collins was the third quarterback.
By Tammy Bruce
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