The Washington Redskins gave up 501 yards of total offense to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On paper that looks terrible. In reality, Washington was a bend but don’t break defense that forced four turnovers in a 16-3 win over Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay opened the game with the ball and drove down the field into the red zone. Redskins cornerback Josh Norman made an athletic interception to end the drive.

The Redskins offense was anemic in the first half only managing two field goals. Thanks to a strong defensive performance and a missed field goal by Tampa Bay, Washington led 6-3 at halftime.

On Tampa Bay’s first possession of the second half, they again drove down the field on a 12-play drive. The result was another missed field goal.

Washington responded well driving deep into Tampa Bay territory and faced 2nd and 14 at the Buccaneers 15-yard line. Redskins quarterback Alex Smith scrambled and ran for a 9-yard gain setting up a 3rd and 5. Smith, a 14-year veteran out of Utah, showed off a bit of the athleticism that he used to great effect under Urban Meyer, now the head coach at Ohio State.

On the ensuing play, Smith bought time in the pocket and fired a pass to wide receiver Josh Doctson who made a great catch in tight coverage in the end zone. It would turn out to be the only touchdown by either team.

Washington got the ball right back after cornerback Greg Stroman intercepted Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Washington would end up kicking a field goal to take a 16-3 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Ryan Anderson, one of a legion of Redskins players from Alabama, made a big play on the Buccaneers next drive. He was initially rushing the passer on the play and then hustled back after Tampa Bay running back Jacquizz Rodgers caught the ball. Anderson punched the ball out of his hands and the Redskins recovered the ball in the end zone.

Late in the fourth quarter linebacker, Preston Smith sacked Fitzpatrick and forced a fumble on the play. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan recovered the ball and sealed a Redskins win.

It was a wild game on both sides of the ball. The Redskins continue to look feeble without key playmakers such as Jamison Crowder and Chris Thompson. Smith missed a wide-open Vernon Davis on what would have been a long touchdown pass. Plays like that are why the Redskins are always sweating it out in the fourth quarter.

The Redskins offense stepped up when they had to though. Former first-round pick Josh Doctson made a number of key catches in traffic.

Late in the first half, he also made a big catch in between two defenders that would help lead to a field goal drive.

The Redskins defense gave up a lot of yards but did not surrender a touchdown and forced four turnovers. They knew the offense had a lot of injuries and stepped up in a big way.

Washington won the turnover battle four to zero, the biggest reason why they won the game. Smith misses plays but he was efficient and did not turn the ball over.

The Redskins also won the special teams battle kicking three fields goals. Tampa Bay, on the other hand, missed two field goals.

It was an ugly performance in a lot of ways for Washington but there are no style points in the NFL, unlike college football. The Redskins must improve moving forward but they are 6-3 and in sole possession of first place in the NFC East. Next up is a battle at home against the Houston Texans who are 6-3 and in first place in the AFC South.

Will Fairfax is a Washington Redskins editor and staff writer for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @willfairfax1Looking for more Redskins news and features?Follow @spot_redskins on Twitter.