In a 2014 filled with embarrassing losses, perhaps the Redskins’ worst game came against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedEx Field.
The Redskins were 3-5, coming off of their bye and had won two out of their last three. Things weren’t necessarily looking great but they were looking up. Tampa Bay was 1-8 and riding a five-game losing streak.
But the Bucs took a 13-7 lead into halftime and kept rolling. Quarterback Josh McCown had a largely disappointing one year in Tampa but this game was his highlight as he passed for 288 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie receiver Mike Evans was his favorite target, piling up 209 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Robert Griffin III struggled mightily at quarterback, prompting Jay Gruden to say that his performance “was not even close to good enough to what we expect from the quarterback position.”
The Redskins’ season went into a tailspin as they lost six of their final seven games. The Bucs weren’t any better, also going 1-6 the rest of the way out.
About 11 months later, neither team has suddenly morphed into a Super Bowl contender. Both teams have won two games and are struggling to achieve consistent mediocrity.
Earlier this season, the Redskins avenged one of their other bad 2014 losses by beating the Rams, who were 24-0 winners at FedEx Field last December with Jeff Fisher trolling the Redskins by trotting out the players his team acquired in the Griffin trade as the team captains for the coin toss. Washington took care of business in Week 2, 24-10.
After this year’s game, a few players talked about using the 2014 loss to St. Louis as motivation for this year’s Rams game. In particular, Trent Williams said he watched the film of last year’s game the last thing before he went to bed the night before just to make sure he remembered that embarrassment.
Will players be using last year’s Bucs game to provide that little bit of extra inspiration on Sunday?
“I don’t think we need that as extra motivation,” said Jay Gruden. “Anytime a team comes in here and beats you like Tampa Bay beat us last year, hopefully they remember that — the guys that were here. We have a lot of new guys that weren’t here. I think the situation that we’re in, we have plenty motivation to play well. We’re 2-4, obviously last place in our division and backed against a wall, so we have to come out and play well. Whether it’s a team we beat last year, lost to last year, got killed by last year, it doesn’t matter. It’s an important game for us and we have to play well.”
What Gruden says is true. At 2-4, on a two-game losing streak, and the bye and then a trip to Foxborough to play the Patriots, this would be an important for the Redskins to win no matter who they were playing. Earlier this week Gruden said the game is “code red”, the midseason equivalent of a “must win”.
But perhaps Williams (who left the 2014 game early with an injury) and a few more of those who were on the team a year ago will pull out their tablets Saturday night and review last year’s awful performance to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.