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Daily Press: Pregame is free of incidents


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Pregame is free of incidents


By Warner Hessler

Daily Press

Published October 13, 2003

LANDOVER, Md. -- The pregame warmup is not something that commands a lot of attention. But, one hour before kickoff Sunday at FedEx Field, swarms of photographers took up positions outside the Redskins' and Buccaneers' tunnel entrances onto the field, and writers stood in the press box and waited for the teams to make an appearance.

The reason for the vigilance was the mid-week warning Washington linebacker LaVar Arrington issued to Tampa Bay defensive tackle Warren Sapp. Arrington threatened to intervene if Sapp ran through the Redskins' stretching lines before the game, as he had done to the Indianapolis Colts last Monday night.

As it turned out, the Redskins were through with their stretching by the time Sapp and the linemen came out, and he didn't venture anywhere near the Redskins' half of the field. The two Pro Bowl players had a cordial conversation after the game.

"I had to let him know it (not interfering with the Redskins' stretching) was a sign of respect," Arrington said. "He came up to me after the game and was laughing, and stuff. He understood, and we embraced and wished each other luck."

"That (the warning) is the type of thing I would do, too, if somebody was coming into my stadium in a manner that I didn't like."

TOUGH GUY, PART VI. As was the case in the first five games, Redskins' quarterback Patrick Ramsey took another beating from pass-rushers. He was sacked four times and flattened nearly a dozen times after delivering passes.

And, as was the case in two previous games, an opponent praised Ramsey for his toughness and for refusing to be intimidated.

"I have a lot of respect for Ramsey," said rugged safety John Lynch of the Bucs. "We got some good hits on him, but he seems to be unfazed by a pass rush. I was like, 'Man, this is a tough kid.' Sooner or later, though, that's going to get (Ramsey hurt)."

TURNING POINT. In Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden's mind, the turning point in the game came on a third-and-16 situation from the Bucs 15 in the third quarter with Washington holding a 13-7 lead. Gruden called a misdirection pass play and nobody was around to stop running back Michael Pittman from catching an 18-yard pass. The Bucs' went on to score the first of four consecutive touchdowns in the second half.

"That big conversion shot life into our team," he said. "Certainly, you don't know if it won you the game, but I guarantee you that if you punt the ball back to Washington from that area of the field, they've got a six-point lead and a chance to go in for some decisive blows."

SMART GUY. Three of Tampa Bay quarterback Brad Johnson's four touchdown passes were on play-action bootleg passes to little-known tight ends, two to Todd Yoder and one to Will Heller. Players from both sides credited Gruden's play-calling for setting them up.

"You have to give them credit for having a good game plan," said Redskins' linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, who was among the many falling for Johnson's fakes. "They ran the ball a little in the red zone, and then they ran the play-action to get us off balance."

"Jon is creative every week," Johnson said, "and I think that's where he is the master over a lot of other

situations and coaches."

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