LANDOVER, Md. -- Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins was picked apart by the critics in the past two weeks. In fairness, he had not shown any consistency, and the decision to keep him in the lineup, despite his lack of success, had become a national topic.
Cousins rewarded the Redskins in the second half Sunday, leading them to a 31-30 comeback win over Tampa Bay. Cousins lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, but then showed why the Redskins stuck with him: his poise. Following the fumble, Cousins led the Redskins to four touchdowns and a field goal in the final two and a half quarters. He showed no panic on the game-winning 80-yard drive -- just as he hadn't on the final drive vs. Philadelphia in the previous home game. Cousins completed 33 of 40 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns.
What it means: The best comeback in Redskins history provides a ton of momentum heading into the bye week and quiets the rising number of critics of the coach and the quarterback. Redskins coach Jay Gruden billed this as a code-red game, yet the team did not respond in kind, at least not in falling behind 24-0. But they showed a lot of resolve thereafter. That team looked dead in the first half and lost a few more players to injuries, but Cousins guided them to victory, and now they’re 3-4 entering the bye week. The difference this win makes: a 2-5 record going into the bye week with a game at the New England Patriots up next would have meant lots of speculation on job security. That conversation still might be had, but not in the next couple of weeks.
Smart thinking: Gruden recently called place-kicker Dustin Hopkins’ onside kicks a thing of magic. So after cutting the deficit to 24-14, they called for an onside kick and caught Tampa Bay by surprise, recovering to set up another scoring drive. It kept the momentum surging.
One reason to get excited: The tough part is getting excited about anything, because there is too much inconsistency. But the resolve and mindset that enabled the Redskins to come back has been evident all season. Cousins played an excellent second half and tight end Jordan Reed reminded everyone why he’s so important to the offense.
One reason to panic: The run defense continues to be a problem, as Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin rushed 19 times for 138 yards. Poor tackling and missed gaps caused problems all day.
Fantasy watch: Tight end Jordan Reed caught 11 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. When healthy, he makes a difference. Running back Alfred Morris continues to struggle, gaining 5 yards on six carries. Going forward, Matt Jones could get more and more time.
Ouch: Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, the Redskins’ best pass-rusher, exited the game in the first quarter with a right hand injury. He has yet to miss a game in his Redskins career. Linebacker Perry Riley left the game in the second half with a lower leg injury. Corner Bashaud Breeland left the game late with a hamstring injury.