Redskins' Bowen has big reason to smile

Defensive game plan works against Buccaneers

September 14, 2004|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Matt Bowen, an intense, veteran safety, doesn't smile much around game time.

But on Sunday, after his Washington Redskins defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 16-10, in their season opener, Bowen couldn't stifle a grin as he dressed in the locker room.

Bowen was pleased not only because his team won and because he had two sacks, eight tackles and a forced fumble. His satisfaction, he said, was also derived because the defensive game plan had worked so well.

Bowen, who was named by his coaches yesterday as the team's defensive player of the game, spearheaded a unit that threw all manners of blitzes at the Bucs. Sometimes, the Redskins bluffed blitzing from one side and then came from the other. Often, Tampa Bay seemed off balance.

"Disguise is what it's all about," Bowen said.

Bowen was singled out yesterday by coach Joe Gibbs for his play. He will share player of the game honors with running back Clinton Portis, who rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown.

The week's top player is supposed to earn a reserved parking spot near the front door of the team's training facility. It was a spot that Gibbs himself gave up so players could vie for the honor each week during the season.

Since there is only one spot and two players, "We're going to have to expand our parking lot," Gibbs joked yesterday at his weekly news conference.

Bowen was signed as a free agent from the Green Bay Packers before last season. The safety is hard-nosed, plays on special teams and is generally a good fit in defensive coach Gregg Williams' aggressive schemes.

"Matt's a real physical guy," Gibbs said. "He won't talk much, but he's ready. I said that to him on the field: `Whatever you did to get ready, do it again next week.' "

While Bowen and Portis provided highlights on Sunday, Gibbs said there was also much that disappointed him when he studied the game film.

"We made a ton of mistakes, obviously on special teams, on kickoff coverage," Gibbs said. "On offense, we had any number of mistakes that really hurt us, that killed drives."

The Redskins had a botched exchange between the center and quarterback and a failed handoff that provided Tampa Bay its only touchdown.

"You have a tendency when you win a game to kind of brush it aside," Gibbs said, adding that he hoped the Redskins would not succumb to that temptation.

NOTES: Heralded rookie safety Sean Taylor played sparingly Sunday, which Gibbs suggested was due in part to a minor illness. "He got kind of a late start during the week," the coach said. Gibbs said Taylor's playing time against the New York Giants this Sunday would depend on what defensive packages are used. ... Gibbs said yesterday that he believes that 12-minute halftimes and 40-second play clocks are too short. He declined a network television interview at halftime because he said he wanted the time to strategize with his team.

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