LANDOVER, Md. - If ever an extra point was going to go awry, this was the time.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had already watched the Washington Redskins miss two short field goals and barely make another, with the kicker getting booed during his walk of shame back to the sideline.
Now the Redskins were lining up to try to tie the game, having pulled within one point on a 6-yard, fourth-down touchdown catch by Santana Moss with 9 seconds to play. In steady rain, no less.
Sometimes the path to victory comes from simply watching the other team mess up, and that's what happened for the Buccaneers yesterday. Nick Sundberg's slightly high snap sailed through holder Hunter Smith's hands and kept on bouncing, preserving a 17-16 win and keeping Tampa Bay's playoff hopes firmly intact.
"It was almost weird. We're sitting on the sidelines, and something just didn't feel right," Tampa Bay running back Cadillac Williams said. "I was like, 'Man, he's going to miss it; we're going to block it.' Something just didn't feel right, man. When I see the snap go over the place-kicker's head, I was like 'Wow, OK, game's over.' ''
The Buccaneers (8-5) snapped a two-game losing streak and were buoyed by the news that the Packers, another team in the wild-card race, were beaten by the Lions. The injury breaks continued to go against the Tampa Bay, however, with first-round draft pick Gerald McCoy lost for the season with a right biceps injury and defensive tackle Quincy Black "potentially" out for the season with a broken forearm, according to coach Raheem Morris.
Tampa Bay lost cornerback Aqib Talib and center Jeff Faine for the season last week against Atlanta, and guard Davin Joseph and safety Cody Grimm suffered season-ending injuries the previous week against Baltimore.
"Don't let them do the 18-game season this year," cornerback Ronde Barber said, "because we won't make it. I say that jokingly, but . . . we're losing two guys a week for the season now."
Tampa Bay's only TD came when Josh Freeman hit Kellen Winslow for a 41-yard scoring pass with 3 minutes, 47 seconds to play.
"It was a weird game in all honesty. It was strange," Tampa Bay linebacker Dekoda Watson said. "Style points are out the window right now. It's not like this is the BCS. We've got to get to a playoff game."
The gaffe ending was symbolic of another lost season for the Redskins (5-8), who have lost five of six and dropped four straight at home. They wasted a career-best 173-yard rushing day by Ryan Torain, 158 yards in the first half.
Graham Gano hit the left upright from 34 yards in the first quarter, then badly pulled his kick wide left from 24 yards in the second quarter. Redskins linebacker Chris Wilson fumbled away a squib kickoff to start the second half, with no Buccaneers player anywhere near him.
"I could have been the difference in that game," said Gano, who barely made a chip-shot 25-yarder late in the first half. "I just have to stay confident and move on to next week."