Marred in Tragedy

Regardless of how the Washington Redskins finish, their 2007 season will forever be associated with tragedy.

With fallen teammate Sean Taylor on their minds, the Redskins attempt to shift their focus back to football and avoid a fourth straight loss Sunday when they host the Buffalo Bills in their first game since the Pro Bowl safety died as result of a gunshot wound Tuesday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Washington –5.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game, the over/under has been set at 37 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 54% of bets for this game have been placed on Washington –5.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

The 24-year-old Taylor, the fifth overall pick by Washington in 2004 and among the NFL leaders with five interceptions, was at his suburban Miami home with his girlfriend and their 18-month-old daughter early Monday when he was shot in the leg by an apparent intruder.

The bullet damaged the femoral artery in Taylor's leg, which caused significant blood loss. The 2006 Pro Bowler never regained consciousness and died a little more than 24 hours later.

"This is a terrible, terrible tragedy," Redskins owner Dan Snyder said.

Though he missed the last two games with a sprained knee, Taylor already recorded a career high in interceptions in just nine games. He also appeared to be turning his life around after dealing with some off-field troubles early in his career and a series of on-field fines for late hits and other infractions.

"What got cut short here was a career that was going to go to a lot of Pro Bowls and have a lot of fun," Washington coach Joe Gibbs said.

Redskins officials were unsure why Taylor was in Miami, though he was not required to be with the team during their 19-13 loss at Tampa Bay last Sunday.

The Redskins plan to honor Taylor by wearing a patch on their jerseys and his No. 21 on their helmets. There will also be a moment of silence in respect to Taylor before each NFL game this week.

"I have never dealt with this," Gibbs said. "We're going one hour at a time here. I don't know how we'll deal with it, except we'll all do it together."

While police continue to investigate the shooting, the Redskins are forced to turn their attention to the field, where a once-promising season appears to be slipping away. Washington is 3-6 since starting 2-0.

Though the Redskins (5-6) are one of six teams a game back of Detroit for the final wild-card spot, Washington will try to avoid losing four in a row for the first time since Sept. 19-Oct. 10, 2004, as it continues to come to grips with the loss of a teammate.

"Obviously, we've got a game this weekend, but that's the farthest thing from my mind and anybody's mind at this point," said safety Reed Doughty, who replaced the injured Taylor the last two weeks. "I guess we'll just take that as it comes."

Washington attempts to rebound after committing a season-high six turnovers against the Buccaneers, including four in a span of 16 plays in the first half.

Jason Campbell was 30-for-49 for 301 yards and helped the Redskins rally from a 19-3 deficit, but threw two fourth-quarter interceptions, including one in the end zone with 17 seconds left.

Campbell will look for his third straight 300-yard passing game when he goes against Buffalo, which ranks 29th in the league with 258.7 passing yards allowed per game.

The Redskins, whose defense ranks ninth in the NFL by allowing 310.7 yards per game, held Tampa Bay to 192 total yards and rebounded after allowing 741 yards and 61 points in their previous two games.

Washington looks to avoid a fifth straight loss to Buffalo, though the teams haven't met since the Bills won 24-7 at home on Oct. 19, 2003.

The Redskins last beat the Bills 37-24 in Super Bowl XXVI on Jan. 26, 1992, but haven't defeated Buffalo in the regular season since a 29-14 home win on Dec. 30, 1990.

Buffalo (5-6) tries to avoid a third straight loss since winning four in a row. The Bills fell 36-14 at Jacksonville last Sunday and will start rookie Trent Edwards at quarterback in place of J.P. Losman against the Redskins.

Losman committed three turnovers, including two interceptions, last week as the Bills' 31st-ranked offense failed to score more than 14 points for the third straight game.

Buffalo, which averages 267.4 yards per game, ranks 29th in the league with 15.2 points per contest and is scoring just 12.3 in its last three.

"We're definitely looking for a spark, but that's probably not the only reason we're making the change," Buffalo coach Dick Jauron said. "We do need consistency from that position."

Edwards, a third-round pick out of Stanford, will make his fifth start and first since a 13-3 win over the New York Jets on Oct. 28, when he sprained his throwing hand.

Though he's thrown just one touchdown and five interceptions, Edwards is 3-1 as a starter, completing 66.1 percent of his passes for 790 yards.

While Edwards might be able to give the Bills a boost, it appears rookie running back Marshawn Lynch will likely miss a third straight contest with an ankle injury. He leads the team with 751 yards and six touchdowns.

"We're not optimistic again," Jauron told the team's official Web site. "He's now doing some running and some cutting, but nothing like full speed playing."

Buffalo hopes to improve defensively after allowing 92 points in its last two games since giving up 48 during its four-game winning streak.

By: Staff Writers - Email Us

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