TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did enough to erase an 18-point deficit Sunday, yet not quite enough to erase the mistakes they made early in a 24-22 loss to the Washington Redskins.
Billy Cundiff, whose three missed field goals had kept the Bucs in the game, made a 41-yard field goal with 3 seconds left to win it for the Redskins.
“We’re a team that’s going to be in it in the fourth quarter, tight ballgames, and we need to find a way to win,” said coach Greg Schiano after the Bucs’ third straight loss. “This one, if we don’t make all those errors, I don’t know what the game is going to look like, but it doesn’t matter. We did make the errors.”
The Bucs (1-3) committed 10 penalties, three on defense to help the Redskins take a 21-3 lead in the second quarter. A final critical penalty was a false start by guard Ted Larsen before a 2-point conversion attempt that could have tied the game in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t play smart football,” Schiano said. “There’s certain penalties I can live with. There’s others that are inexcusable and we had a few of those today.”
After Connor Barth’s 47-yard field goal gave the Bucs a 22-21 lead, rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III moved the Redskins (2-2) right down the field to the winning kick.
Cundiff redeemed himself after missing field goals of 41 and 57 yards in the second quarter, and 31 yards with 12:13 remaining.
“Everything seemed to work out for us at the end,” said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. “We had a chance to put it away early in the second half, but offensively we stopped ourselves a number of times.”
Barth’s third field goal of the game with 1:42 left, his 25th straight successful attempt, put the Bucs up for the first time, but Griffin wasn’t finished.
He completed three straight passes to move the Redskins from their 20 to the Bucs 41, then ran for 15 yards to the Tampa Bay 26. Cundiff won it two plays later.
Griffin threw for 323 yards without an interception and scored on a 5-yard run while Washington was building a 21-3 lead in the second quarter.
Pierre Garcon recovered a fumble by the second overall pick in this year’s draft in the end zone for the Redskins’ first touchdown.
Alfred Morris rushed for 113 yards and scored on a 39-yard run.
Josh Freeman threw for 299 yards and one touchdown, leading the Bucs back from their big deficit with help from Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson, who scored on a 7-yard reception late in the third quarter.
All four of the Bucs’ games have been decided by seven points or less.
“When you look at the margin of how many games are close, more often that not, games are decided within seven points,” Freeman said. “It’s a matter of playing four quarters. You never know how the game’s going to go. It’s a matter of taking every opportunity and trying to maximize its potential.”
Jackson finished with six catches for 100 yards, and Williams had five receptions for 115 yards.
Griffin was sacked six times and was hit hard after handing off on some option plays during a loss to Cincinnati last week, prompting coach Mike Shanahan to ask the rookie to take some precautions on the field to protect himself.
The Bucs were flagged twice for unnecessary roughness on the quarterback, once on a throw out of his own end zone and the other when he was picked up and dropped for a 2-yard loss by Tampa Bay rookie safety Mark Barron on a designed run.
Barron read the quarterback keeper perfectly, but was flagged when he lifted Griffin into the air before dumping him to the ground and falling on top of Griffin.
The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner bounced right up, clapped his hands, then threw for 20 yards to Garcon on the next play.
Tampa Bay’s offense sputtered until Freeman connected with Williams on a 65-yard pass that led to the TD pass to Jackson that trimmed Washington’s lead to 21-13.
Two more completions to Jackson, this time for 54 and then 22 yards, set up LeGarrette Blount’s 2-yard TD that helped the Bucs pull within 21-19.
Griffin began the winning drive from the Washington 20 with 1:42 left. He completed passes of 15 yards to Santana Moss, 20 to Fred Davis and 4 to Evan Royster before taking off on his big run that got the Redskins into field goal range.
NOTES: The Redskins played without safety Brandon Meriweather and receiver Aldrick Robinson, who were declared out after colliding in the end zone during pregame warm-ups. … Barth also kicked field goals of 50 and 57 yards, extending his team-record streak of consecutive attempts to 25. … Freeman was intercepted once and also sacked once.