The Washington Redskins have won all four home games this season. They’ll need to continue to play well at FedEx Field if they want to stay close to the top of the NFC East.
Washington hopes to keep its perfect home record intact when it faces the Oakland Raiders and former coach Norv Turner.
The Redskins battled Tampa Bay down to the last play of the game on Sunday, only to see the Buccaneers win it 36-35 on Mike Alstott’s last-second two-point conversion.
“Any time you lose, it’s tough,” Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. “There are always 50 plays where you could have won and 50 plays where you could have lost.”
Returning home should benefit Washington, which is one game behind division leaders Dallas and the New York Giants. The Redskins have won five in a row at home dating to last season and are seeking their first six-game streak since winning 11 straight in 1990-91.
Quarterback Mark Brunell, picked off only three times in Washington’s first eight games, threw two first-half interceptions and fumbled both times he was sacked against Tampa Bay. Three of his mistakes contributed to Washington’s 21-13 halftime deficit.
“It’s tough,” he said. “You lose a fumble and throw two picks, you aren’t going to win in the NFL.”
Overshadowed by the disappointing loss were strong games by running backs Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts. Portis gained 144 yards on 23 carries, including an eight-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that gave the Redskins a 35-28 lead with nine minutes left. Betts scored two TDs, a 17-yard reception and a 94-yard kickoff return.
Washington’s defense struggled against Tampa Bay, and knows it must avoid giving up the big play to the Raiders, who have Randy Moss and the league’s sixth-best passing attack.
“We can’t give up the big play,” Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington said. “That’s what we do, and we have to stop that. That’s got to be part of our maturation process.”
Washington wide receiver David Patten underwent surgery on his knee Friday and will miss the rest of the season. Patten, signed to a five-year, $13 million contract with a $3.5 million signing bonus in March, had been feeling irritation in the knee for a couple of weeks and had missed practices but not games.
This week, team doctors decided to examine the injury further and decided that surgery was necessary.
Oakland fell behind 23-0 after three quarters against Denver on Sunday and lost 31-17 for its second straight defeat.
Turner returns to Washington where he coached for seven seasons, guiding the franchise to its last playoff appearance in 1999 before he was fired during the 2000 season.
“It’s been a long time,” Turner said. “So much has changed. My thoughts are on our team and what we need to do.”
Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins passed for 310 yards and two TDs against Denver, but also threw three interceptions and was sacked four times for a total loss of 35 yards.
“I’m real disappointed in the way I played,” Collins said. “It’s pretty simple. I need to play better. I can’t do the things I did (last Sunday).”
The Raiders have won seven of their last 10 games against the Redskins, including the past two on the road.
While Oakland has committed only 10 turnovers this season—third fewest in the league—it has been called for an NFL-high 90 penalties.