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Spurrier returns to Florida and whips Bucs

Mad Mike

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Spurrier returns to Florida and whips Bucs


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- For all the talk about Steve Spurrier's Fun N' Gun offense, it was the Washington defense that made his Florida homecoming special.

Shane Matthews threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Rod Gardner, and Greg Scott returned a fumble 66 yards for another score as the Redskins beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 40-10 Saturday night in Spurrier's return to the state where he is revered as a coach.

Spurrier won six Southeastern Conference titles and one national championship in 12 seasons at the University of Florida before leaving in January to accept a five-year, $25 million contract with the Redskins.

He's 4-0 in the preseason, but stressed he and his players need to keep their success in perspective.

"It's been pretty nice thus far, but we realize we've been fortunate in some of the games we've won,'' Spurrier said. "Carolina could have beat us. Pittsburgh could have beat us. We're not a super team by any means, but it's fun just coaching.''

There was little reaction in the sold-out stadium when he made his way across the field, but some in the crowd of 65,598 booed the first time he was shown on the scoreboard video screen.

Spurrier's explosive offense has been the center of attention during Washington's unbeaten preseason, but the defense was equally impressive against Tampa Bay.

LaVar Arrington and Champ Bailey intercepted passes by Brad Johnson on the Bucs' first two possessions, the latter setting up Matthews' TD pass to Gardner. Donte Curry intercepted Shaun King and ran 20 yards for Washington's last TD with 2:31 remaining in the game.

The Bucs (2-1) also lost four fumbles, including the one Scott scooped up after Delbert Cowsette sacked Rob Johnson with the Bucs threatening to score early in the third quarter.

"Our defense was the story of the game. It was pretty easy for us to play with all of the turnovers,'' Spurrier said.

"We got 26 on offense, so we didn't do all that much. We played hard. We played with a lot of effort. It was a win, but it's not that big a deal. Preseason is just practice games, and hopefully we can continue to get better.''

Washington (4-0) averaged 36 points and 391 yards passing in its first three exhibitions with much of it coming against second- and third-stringers.

Spurrier's aggressive style with reserves in the game drew criticism from some people who felt the Redskins were trying to run up the score. The Bucs couldn't make those claims.

Rookie Patrick Ramsey made his Redskins debut at quarterback in the second half and threw a 12-yard TD pass to ex-Buc Jacquez Green after Tampa Bay's Travis Stephens fumbled a kickoff at the Washington 27.

"You get what you deserve in this league,'' Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. "When you turn the ball over that many times ... you're going to get punished.''

Matthews, who led an 88-yard scoring drive in the second quarter, produced 148 yards and 16 points in the first half. The Redskins finished with 260 yards total offense.

Saturday night's game was hyped more than a usual exhibition because of Spurrier's ties to Florida, as well as an anticipated shootout with Gruden, who has overhauled what is expected to be a much-improved Tampa Bay offense.

But with seven turnovers and several costly penalties, the Bucs didn't give themselves a chance.

Brad Johnson, who was 9-for-14 for 90 yards, left in the second quarter after throwing a 7-yard TD pass to Keenan McCardell. John Howell's interception of Ramsey set up Martin Gramatica's 48-yard field goal early in the third quarter.

Matthews, starting in place of Danny Wuerffel who was out with the flu, was 8-of-15 for 97 yards and one interception. Ramsey, a first-round draft pick who missed two weeks of training camp in a contract holdout, was 10-of-20 for 117 yards and was sacked four times.

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