- The Washington Times - Monday, October 5, 2009

His team’s defense had taken the field with a much-needed and renewed passion to harass a quarterback in his first NFL start.

His kicker was thrust into double duty when the punter suffered a first-quarter injury.

His battered running back was grinding his way to his best game of the season despite being pounded on every play.

Yet Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell kept turning the football over to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Three Campbell giveaways - one fumble and two interceptions - played a part in the Redskins heading into the home locker room at halftime scoreless, down 10 and staring at a second hideous loss in as many weeks.

“At halftime, I was like, ‘If we don’t pull this one out, I don’t know what I’m going to do on Monday,’ ” Campbell said. “I might just have hibernated. You might not have seen me the rest of the week.”

With the support of coach Jim Zorn, who said he did not consider benching him, Campbell threw another interception (giving him a career-high three), but his two third-quarter touchdown passes helped propel the Redskins past Tampa Bay 16-13 on Sunday at FedEx Field.

“Today, Jason really grew to being a leader of this team,” said running back Clinton Portis, who overcame a calf injury to rush for 98 yards. “For Jason to hold his head up after four turnovers and everybody continuing to fight, that was the best thing to happen today.”

The Redskins (2-2) scored 16 unanswered points, starting with Shaun Suisham’s 42-yard field goal before Campbell’s scoring passes of 17 yards to Chris Cooley and 59 yards to Santana Moss.

The maligned defense gave up only one touchdown (a 10-yard drive) and sealed the win when rookie Jeremy Jarmon forced a Clifton Smith fumble that Chris Horton recovered with 48 seconds remaining.

Although the locker room had the same kind of “a win’s a win” feeling as two weeks ago after the St. Louis victory, the win over the still-searching Buccaneers (0-4) at least should quiet down the public speculation about Zorn’s job… until the next defeat.

“This gets us just one week of relief,” strong safety Reed Doughty said. “Anything can happen on a winning streak and right now, we’re on a one-game streak and hope to make it two games next week.”

A two-game losing streak seemed in the offing at halftime. The Redskins’ offensive production consisted of two punts, two interceptions, one fumble, 99 yards and no points.

The deficit could have been at least 16-0, but Tampa Bay kicker Mike Nugent missed field goals of 48 and 49 yards. Josh Johnson’s 8-yard pass to Antonio Bryant and Nugent’s 37-yard field goal as the first half expired gave the Buccaneers (0-4) hope.

Despite the lack of production, Zorn said he didn’t think about inserting backup quarterback Todd Collins.

“The answer to that, really, simply, was no, especially because I thought [Campbell] was in the game,” Zorn said.

“I wasn’t thinking about getting pulled or anything,” said Campbell, who hasn’t been benched during his NFL career. “I said, ‘Coach, I’ll get it together. I don’t know what’s going on.’ He played the position and probably had one of these games and understands how important it is for a guy to fight through it.”

Despite the interceptions, the Redskins said the halftime locker room remained calm in spite of the deficit.

“Here’s what I love about our football team - everybody maintained their poise,” said Zorn, who never won a game in which he threw three interceptions. “In the locker room, we didn’t have any yelling. We just came in and said, ‘Here’s our adjustments, here’s what we’re going to do.’ ”

The rally began when DeAngelo Hall intercepted Johnson on the third play of the second half. Campbell scrambled 9 yards to keep the drive alive, but the Redskins stalled, and Suisham’s field goal made it 10-3. Suisham also handled the punting duties (three for a 26.7-yard average) for the first time since high school when Hunter Smith injured his groin in the first quarter.

Starting with Hall’s takeaway, the Redskins’ defense put in a dominant second-half performance: three punts, two turnovers and a field goal.

“Guys flew around and executed and played with a great passion,” defensive coordinator Greg Blache said.

The offense continued to pick up the slack after Suisham’s field goal. Their next possession started at the 31-yard line and ended 10 plays later on Cooley’s second touchdown of the season (he had just one in 2008). But the Redskins trailed 10-9 when Ronde Barber swooped in untouched to block Suisham’s point-after kick.

The big play that kept that drive alive came on a fourth-and-2 conversion from the Tampa Bay 36. Moss was the only player in the route, but when he was doubled, Cooley recognized the coverage and floated open for a 12-yard gain.

“Cooley did an awesome job on that play knowing how to find a way to get open and knowing when the quarterback is running out of time,” Campbell said.

That first touchdown drive was methodical.

The second touchdown drive was a lightning strike.

Before starting a drive at his own 41, Campbell said in the huddle: “Give me some time, guys. This is a touchdown right here.”

And it was. Campbell’s play-action fake froze the Tampa Bay safety. In essentially man coverage against cornerback Aqib Talib (who had all three interceptions), Moss used a double move to blow past him. He caught the ball in stride around the 15-yard line for his second straight game with a touchdown longer than 50 yards.

“When we started running the ball, they started bringing that safety into the box,” Zorn said. “If you want to see a great move by a wide receiver, watch what he did. They were playing him tight and trying to play the safety over the top, but the play action held the safety inside, and Santana had his way with the guy.”

The Redskins hung on despite no fourth-quarter passing yards - Campbell’s only pass was intercepted by Talib with 12:14 remaining. The Buccaneers were held to a field goal when they could manage only 3 yards on three plays from the Washington 7-yard line.

A quarter of their season complete, the Redskins have three games - at Carolina and home against Kansas City and Philadelphia - before the bye. Those are three chances to prove they’re a better team than the one with two wins by a combined five points.

“You think we want to be in this situation? You think we want to be playing the way we’ve been playing?” Moss asked. “The only way for us to come out of it is for us to go out there and do what we do. I’m just glad we got a win.”

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