- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 25, 2002

TAMPA, Fla. The Washington Redskins keep winning preseason games under first-year coach Steve Spurrier, and this time they did it in a manner everyone could appreciate.
Spurrier, frustrated by criticism that his team had struggled against opposing teams' starters in early wins, oversaw a whistle-to-whistle 40-10 thumping of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last night before 65,598 at Raymond James Stadium.
"No, I don't worry about that stuff," Spurrier said. "Sometimes you don't do anything in the first one or two plays. Sometimes you don't do much the whole game. But we didn't do much on offense tonight. We've got to play better."
The win marked Spurrier's return to a city that loved him as a USFL coach and coveted him as a potential NFL coach. It also was his first NFL showcase in the state of his greatest achievements at the University of Florida.
The Redskins (4-0) continued to boost expectations in beating an expected playoff contender. Washington is in line for its first undefeated preseason since 1985 and just its second ever. With 150 points so far the Redskins should race past the club record for scoring in a preseason (156, set in seven games in 1975) in Thursday's exhibition finale against New England.
Quarterback Shane Matthews led Washington to a 16-7 halftime lead and staked a claim to the job while starting for Danny Wuerffel, who was a late scratch due to flu. In the second half, rookie passer Patrick Ramsey made a ragged but satisfying debut.
Matthews' other preseason start (Aug.10 at Carolina) resulted in a 20-10 halftime lead. Last night he completed eight of 15 passes for 97 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and Spurrier said that he could find out this week whether he would be the starter the Sept. 8 against Arizona.
Wuerffel's absence also made possible a lengthy debut by Washington's top draft pick. Opening the second half and playing with and against reserves, Ramsey guided a drive for a field goal in the third quarter and threw a 12-yard touchdown to Jacquez Green in the fourth quarter.
Early last week, Ramsey was expected to see little if any time. But the Redskins traded Sage Rosenfels to Miami on Thursday, and Wuerffel's illness left them with just two healthy quarterbacks.
Ramsey's first pass was a 25-yard gain and his third an interception. He finished 10-for-20 for 117 yards, one touchdown and one pick.
Washington's 16 first-half points represented by far its best offensive effort against an opposing team's starting defense. The Redskins had scored just three points on first-string units in their first three exhibitions, on a Matthews-led field goal at Carolina.
Most promising for Washington was the emergence of the running game despite the absence of newly acquired right guard Brenden Stai. Stai, acquired in a trade with Detroit on Thursday, is expected to start at right guard after the Redskins' interior run blocking was mediocre for most of the preseason. Stai should begin practice tomorrow.
"We mixed it up well," Matthews said. "Teams can't drop back on us and just wait for us to throw. You have to account for Stephen Davis."
The Redskins had averaged just 2.6 yards per rush in the first three games, but last night they bulled for 4.6 in the first half on strong efforts by Davis, Kenny Watson and rookies Rock Cartwright and Ladell Betts.
Watson also had Washington's first preseason rushing touchdown, a 2-yarder with 5:25 left in the first half. This preseason the Redskins scored 14 passing touchdowns, including Matthews' 23-yard strike to Rod Gardner in last night's first quarter, before Watson's scoring rush.
The Redskins' starting defense also put on a solid performance after yielding touchdown drives of 83 and 99 yards to Pittsburgh one week earlier.
Tampa Bay did move 69 yards on six plays for a touchdown in the second quarter the score coming on a 7-yard pass from Brad Johnson to Keenan McCardell over Fred Smoot but Washington recorded interceptions on the Bucs' first two drives and allowed 87 first-half yards otherwise.
On special teams, cornerback Champ Bailey made a statement by returning punts for nine and 18 yards. Bailey and wide receiver Jacquez Green are vying to be the punt returner. Bailey, who starred in the role at Georgia, seems to have the edge because Green is on the roster bubble in a talented group of receivers.
"I've just got to get into a little rhythm. I thought I had that second one," said Bailey.
Bailey's 18-yard return was the longest by a Redskin this preseason until Green followed with a 20-yarder late in the third quarter. Green returned to the lineup after missing most of the Carolina game and sitting out the Pittsburgh game with bruised ribs.
The Redskins had one key gaffe in coverage, yielding a 31-yard return early in the third quarter to Aaron Lockett brother of the Redskins receiver. However, two plays later defensive tackle Del Cowsette sacked Rob Johnson to force a fumble, and defensive end Greg Scott picked it up and ran 66 yards for a touchdown and a 23-10 lead.
Scott, a seventh-round pick out of Hampton, showed impressive speed on that play and on a pressure of Rob Johnson late in the first half. He and Cowsette both seemed to have nice games while seeing snaps with the starters and reserves.
Somewhat disappointing in his elevation to a starting job was receiver Derrius Thompson. Thompson made no catches after grabbing 16 for 309 yards and four touchdowns in the first three games and winning a spot with the first string.
The Redskins suffered several injuries. Offensive lineman Rod Jones sprained his right elbow, tight end Walter Rasby sprained his left knee, linebacker Eddie Mason sprained his right shoulder and safety Andre Lott suffered a concussion.

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