LANDOVER – A majority of the 72,000 fans at FedExField showered the Washington Redskins players with boos as they headed into the locker room at halftime against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Within the next two hours, those boos became cheers as the Redskins staged a great come-from-behind win. The Buccaneers enjoyed a 24-7 […]
LANDOVER – A majority of the 72,000 fans at FedExField showered the Washington Redskins players with boos as they headed into the locker room at halftime against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Within the next two hours, those boos became cheers as the Redskins staged a great come-from-behind win.
The Buccaneers enjoyed a 24-7 lead at halftime due, in part, to the play of rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. Playing against a battered and injury-riddled Redskins secondary, Tampa Bay stuck first when Winston connected with Mike Evans for a 40-yard touchdown on the opening drive.
Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth then hit a 22-yard field goal late in the first quarter to extend the lead to ten. Winston later moved the ball effortlessly at the beginning of the second quarter and led a 72-yard drive that was capped off with a seven-yard touchdown throw to Donteea Dye.
On Washington’s ensuing drive, Tampa Bay’s defense showed they could put points on the board as well. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins dropped back and did not see Jacquies Smith as he dipped down and stripped the ball away. Teammate Howard Jones scooped the ball up and galloped 46-yards for another score. The play extended Washington’s NFL-leading turnover streak to 18 games.
That was when the boos started coming.
Fortunately, Cousins got the message from the disgruntled fans and orchestrated a 74-yard drive on the following possession. Cousins picked apart Tampa Bay’s defense and connected with four different receivers before calling own number on an eight-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter.
The Redskins finally got on the board, but there was a lot of work left to be done. Halftime served as a great time for the Skins to get things together.
“It’s no miracle speech, it’s just us understanding we had a job to do and we didn’t get it done the first half,” Cousins said. “It was now or never to get the win. We knew we were running out of time and we didn’t have a choice.
“The guys started making plays and winning their match-ups. It was a good lesson. Just keep playing and you never know what can happen.”
With the lack a running game, Cousins had to make things happen through the air. On Washington’s first possession of the second half, Cousins hooked up with wide receiver Andre Roberts for 38-yard gain to place the Redskins into scoring position. It set up a four-yard touchdown throw to Ryan Grant.
It was then that Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden dug into his bag of tricks. Kicker Dustin Hopkins executed an onside kick that was recovered by Trenton Robinson to maintain possession. Washington continued to methodically move the ball down the field for another touchdown. This time Cousins found Jordan Reed for the score. Reed’s three-yard touchdown meant the Skins had scored 21 unanswered points and put the pressure back on Tampa Bay.
“I think Coach (Bret) Munsey, (Coach Ben) Kotwica and (Coach Bradford) Banta did a great job at sniffing it out”, Gruden said about the decision to attempt the onside kick. “They saw alignment there. We worked on it during practice and we saw the look a couple times. We liked the opportunity to take a shot with it. We said, starting the third quarter, if we scored then that’s when we were going to do it, and it worked out perfectly”
The teams traded field goals in the third before the Buccaneers made another run. Doug Martin silenced the crowd after he cutback and broke off a 49-yard run deep into Redskins’ territory. Martin finished the game with 136 rushing yards, but failed to find the endzone on Sunday. The Redskins stopped running back Charles Sims on a critical third down on Washington’s one-yard-line and forced the Bucs to settle for a field goal.
Down 30-24 going into the final drive of the game, Cousins was confident. It showed as he executed a perfect two-minute offense that amassed 80-yards. He hit Reed five times for 25 yards until the Redskins threatened to score on Tampa Bay’s six-yard-line. On third down, Cousins rifled a throw and split three defenders for a six-yard touchdown to Reed.
“(Reed) is a talented player,” said Cousins, who finished the game with 317 yards and four total touchdowns, marking the highest quarterback efficiency rating of his career. “He’s wired to be able to separate. He’s got great hands, he’s a competitor, and he makes a big difference. I feel like we all need to just keep developing, keep growing, and keep working. I’m excited about his future and I think it’s very bright.”
With only 24 seconds remaining, Winston completed a pass to Simms who fumbled the ball, and any attempt to win the game, away. Cousins took a knee to achieve the greatest comeback victory in franchise history.
“It’s huge,” Gruden said. “I talked to our team last night about the alumni being here and these guys paved the way for us being here, both as athletes and as professional football players. We wanted to make them proud.
“To come back and battle back to give them something to cheer about on their alumni weekend is an awesome feeling. It was great to shake a lot of those guys’ hands and it’s huge to get a victory in front of them, and like I said, it paves a way for all of us.”