TAMPA, Fla. (AP)—With the ball sitting on the 1-yard line, Jon Gruden couldn’t resist.
The temptation to give it to Mike Alstott on a gutsy 2-point conversion call — even if it meant going home without a victory—was too strong.
At least that way, the Tampa Bay coach said, he would have gone to sleep Sunday night knowing the Buccaneers gave it their best shot.
“It would have been tough not knowing what would have happened,” Gruden said after Alstott somehow found a way across the goal line to give the Bucs a stunning 36-35 victory over the Washington Redskins.
The run, with 58 seconds remaining, came after the Redskins blocked a potential game-tying extra point—but had jumped offsides in the process.
For a moment, Alstott didn’t even realize Gruden had decided to try to break a two-game losing streak in dramatic fashion.
“People were hollering for me. I ran on the field, put on my helmet, heard the call and thought: `Uh, oh, here we go,” Alstott said.
“You have to put the trust in your team and the players and say: `The heck with it.’ You have to gamble once in a while.”
Everybody in the stadium knew who would get the ball, but the Redskins (5-4) could not stop the 248-pound fullback, who scored earlier on touchdown runs of 2 and 1 yards. Alstott was hit at the line and looked like he might fall short before twisting and keeping his legs moving to barely get into the end zone.
The Redskins signaled the conversion failed, but the ruling stood after the replay official’s review.
“Any time you lose, it’s tough. There are always 50 plays where you could have won and 50 plays where you could have lost,” Washington coach Joe Gibbs said.
“All of our guys thought he was on the ground. That’s what everybody told me. I didn’t see it, but that’s what instant replay is for.”
Clinton Portis ran for 144 yards and put Washington ahead with an 8-yard scoring run midway through the fourth quarter. Mark Brunell threw for 226 yards and two TDs, and Ladell Betts scored on a 94-yard kickoff return for the Redskins.
The Bucs (6-3) surpassed their victory total for 2004 with Simms winning for the first time as a pro in a game he started and finished. The third-year pro struggled the previous two weeks after taking over for the injured Brian Griese, but played with much more poise Sunday than in losses to San Francisco and Carolina.
Tampa Bay had seven turnovers and Simms was sacked 10 times in those defeats. The left-hander was 15-of-29 with no interceptions and no sacks against a Redskins defense minus tackle Cornelius Griffin and safety Sean Taylor.
Simms threw a 4-yard TD pass to Ike Hilliard to make it 28-28 late in the third quarter, then moved the Bucs 54 yards in five plays to put the game in Gruden’s hands at the end.
“I’ve never really been a part of anything like that—in college or in the NFL,” the son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms said.
“I saw the blocked extra point and, of course, my heart went into my throat. … I was just sitting there, really just thinking overtime.”
Washington began the day tied for next to last in turnover margin (minus-9) and dug a hole with three early mistakes that helped the Bucs build a 21-13 halftime lead.
Brunell, intercepted only three times in the Redskins’ first eight games, was picked off twice in the first half. He also fumbled both times he was sacked by Simeon Rice, with Dewayne White recovering one at the Redskins 5 to set up Alstott’s 1-yard TD run.
“It’s tough. You lose a fumble and throw two picks, you aren’t going to win in the NFL,” said Brunell, who threw a 17-yard TD pass to Betts and 7-yarder to Mike Sellers.
A week after finishing without any tackles in a loss to Carolina, Rice had four tackles, two sacks and his fifth career interception. … The Bucs played without WR Michael Clayton (sprained knee). … Portis had his fourth 100-yard game of the season.