Four games, four see-saw battles. The Redskins finish the first quarter of the 2012 season at 2-2, leaving Tampa Bay with a much needed 24-22 victory.
Here are our five takeaways from Sunday's dramatic win:
1. The Cundiff Conundrum - It's funny how one play can make all the difference for a kicker; you miss several kicks, and your job security is put into question. But you hit the game winner, and you're off the hook, at least momentarily. Such was the case for Billy Cundiff Sunday, who looked like he was going to be one of the game's biggest goats.
When the Redskins signed Cundiff in the last week of the preseason, the rap on him was that he makes the short ones, but misses the long ones. He was true to form on his first two kick attempts, missing from 57 and 41 yards out.
But when he missed from 31 yards away, he put himself squarely in the crosshairs of Redskins fans (and perhaps the coaching staff). The kick was hooked left, and it denied Washington a chance to go up 24-13 early in the fourth quarter, keeping Tampa Bay alive.
But when it counted most, Cundiff came through. He hit the game winning 42 yarder to help the team escape Tampa with a much-needed victory.
While the kick was clutch, you have to wonder if the coaching staff is willing to forget Cundiff's first three misses. Sure, he hit the one that mattered most, but if he hits the earlier attempts, the Redskins may not even need a last-second kick. They got away with shoddy kicking Sunday, so it's worth monitoring whether or not Cundiff will be able to hang on to his spot as the season goes on.
2. A Captain-like performance for Trent Williams- When Trent Williams injured his knee in last week's game against the Bengals, most thought there was little chance he'd be able to heal up in time for the Buccaneers. He was reportedly gimpy all week in practice, and didn't appear to be getting better anytime soon.
That didn't seem to matter Sunday afternoon, as Williams still suited up and gutted out a solid performance. He wasn't at full strength, but what he did goes a long way in proving his worth to the coaching staff and to his teammates.
Williams' selection as a team captain prior to the season raised quite a few eyebrows. After all, he is a third year player who -- while very talented -- hadn't yet fully established himself as one of the better left tackles in the league. Add in the fact his 2011 season ended early due to a drug suspension, and he wasn't exactly the ideal candidate to wear the ‘C' patch on his jersey.
But with his performance Sunday, perhaps Williams is beginning to show why his teammates held him in such high regard, something that's a very positive development moving forward.
3. Redskins still unlucky with injuries - While Trent Williams was preparing to give it a go, the Redskins were bit by the injury bug once again, this time in bizarre fashion.
How bizarre? How about Brandon Meriweather and Aldrick Robinson colliding with one another in pregame warmups, with the former re-injuring his knee and the latter suffering a concussion. Meriweather's return to the lineup was supposed to be a boon for a struggling Redskins secondary, but it wasn't to be, and the team then opted to start Reed Doughty over DeJon Gomes. As for Robinson, he was expected to be active once again and fill in for Pierre Garcon, who was playing in his first game since Week 1.
The severity of each injury isn't known at this time, but it's hard to get away from just how snake-bitten this team has been with regards to injuries thus far.
For the fourth consecutive week, Morris showed what makes him such a great fit in the zone-blocking scheme. His vision, patience, physicality and open-field wiggle adds a dimension to the Redskins run game they haven’t had under Shanahan.
Morris finished the game with 21 carries for 113 yards rushing, including a nifty 39-yard touchdown run where he set up his blocks and made several defenders miss in the open field. The Redskins haven’t had the luxury of a feature back so far since Shanahan has become the coach. But given Morris’ performance so far, there’s no reason to think he can’t be the guy.
5. The Redskins might have themselves a quarterback- Through four games, it's hard to have asked any more from a rookie quarterback than what Robert Griffin III has given the Redskins.
What's set Griffin apart from most rookies so far is his poise. Sure, it's an overused word when describing quarterbacks, but it really does apply here.
Take the game's final drive, for instance. Not only was Griffin cool and calm in a pressure situation, but he told reporters after the game that his headset went out a few times, cutting off communication between he and the coaching staff on the sideline. So it was up to Griffin to call plays on own in the game's most critical moment. It worked, as lead the Redskins down the field for what was eventually the go-ahead field goal by Cundiff. That's poise.
He finished the day 26 of 35 for 335 yards, and a rushing touchdown. On the season, he's accounted for eight touchdowns to just two turnovers. But sometimes the numbers alone aren't enough to evaluate a player's performance. It's fair to say that so far this season, he's been everything the organization hoped he would be. And with performances like these, it gives his teammates and coaches the belief that with this guy, they're never out of a game, and that belief alone might be the best thing going for the Redskins right now.