September 24, 2020

Washington Redskins: Reversing the script in the third quarter before a game-winning touchdown drive from Captain Kirk to beat the Bucs


(Photo by: SportsCenter)


In a “code red” game before the midseason bye week, the Washington Redskins were trying to gain “confidence” going into the bye week according to Kirk Cousins. In five of six games this season, the Redskins have “won” the first half only to see their demise in the second. Today the Redskins could barely stay competitive in the first half as the Buccaneers went up 24-0 just midway through the second quarter. All looked bleak as FedEx Field emptied quickly but in a continued script reversal, the Redskins were the better team in the third quarter. Not only did the Redskins get within a field goal in the third, but the defense gave the offense a chance at the end of the game where Captain Kirk delivered an 11-play 80 yard, game-winning touchdown drive to give Washington a 31-30 victory.

For the sixth time this season, the Washington Redskins lost the opening coin toss and opponents have consistently deferred until the second half. That to me is an underrated reason why the Redskins have struggled in the third quarter; however, today the struggle started from the opening kickoff. After immediately getting behind on the down and distance with a negative play on the opening running play, the Redskins went three and out. Tampa Bay also had just a three play drive, but there’s was a variety of quick strike offense. On the second play of the drive, Doug Martin gashed the Washington defense for a 23 yard gainer. One play later, Jameis Winston threw deep to Mike Evans who simply out ran veteran corner Will Blackmon on the route and caught a 40 yard touchdown.

Thing would not get better as the Redskins punted again after getting one first down via penalty and the defense was sent to the wolves again. Twice the Washington defense seemed to not care about covering receivers resulting in gains of 29 and 10 yards for Tampa Bay. Washington would be able to force an incompletion on 3rd and 1 and hold the Buccaneers to just a field goal on their second drive. After yet another three and out by the offense, Tampa Bay started running the ball down Washington’s throats again. The Redskins would give up three third down conversions on the drive on their way to a 17-0 deficit.

I think the Washington Redskins like playing with their fans emotions. Right when the offense looked to gain a bit of traction after Matt Jones rushed for the Redskins first first down not by penalty, Cousins hit Garcon over the middle for a big gainer. Then when faced with a third down, with the option of going for it on fourth, Morgan Moses was bull rushed into Cousins who failed to get rid of the ball and was stripped. Things turned worse when Brandon Scherff was unable to track down Howard Jones who went 45 yards for a touchdown. FedEx Field was half empty less than an hour into the game with the Redskins down 24-0 before the dreaded third quarter.

Cousins would continue moving the ball the way Washington was on the previous drive prior to the turnover. With chunk yardage gains to Jamison Crowder and Ryan Grant, the Redskins found themselves in the red zone. On a smart play design from offensive coordinator Sean McVay, Cousins was able to walk in for a touchdown on a read option keeper. The Redskins had faked a read option keeper earlier in the game, which set up the keeper for Cousins who is not respected by defensive ends as a runner. Washington had a chance to draw closer prior to halftime after a Buccaneers three and out, but a drop by Andre Roberts on third down and an illegal shift penalty the negated a fourth down conversion ended that hope. Before playing in the miserable third quarter, Washington found themselves trailing, for just the second time this season, 24-7 at halftime.

The first half was a complete script reversal for the Redskins, so they felt like they fight as well do that during the third quarter too. The Washington defense gave the offense a chance by forcing a punt after allowing just one first down. Cousins went right to work with the good field position and on third down returned to Andre Roberts who came back to the football to make an impressive catch. The 38 yard catch and run put Washington in a goal to go situation and after two Buccaneer penalties, Cousins hit Ryan Grant uncovered in the end zone for the Redskins first touchdown in the third quarter all year.

After describing Dustin Hopkins‘ onside kick ability as “magical” earlier in the week, Jay Gruden pulled out his bag of tricks with an onside kick that was recovered by Trenton Robinson. Cousins immediately hit Ryan Grant over the middle of the field for a 32 yard gain to put the Redskins immediately back in the red zone. After facing a second and goal from the 14 following a false start on Kirk Cousins, more likely Josh LeRibeus forgetting the snap count, Tampa Bay bailed out Washington by roughing the passer. Three plays later, Jordan Reed got into the end zone on a slant route in traffic. Just 8 minutes into the previously worrisome third quarter and Washington had cut the deficit to a field goal.

Tampa Bay responded by completing a big play on third-and-5 where Mike Evans simply used his height advantage over Blackmon. Evans would later convert a second-and-14 as Breeland was unable to stay with the Texas A&M product. Finally after an offensive pass interference call and combined sack from Stephen Paea and Terrance Knighton the Redskins were able to get off the field but not before Tampa Bay tacked on a field goal.

After converting on a third-and-1 and third-and-4, Washington’s response drive stalled on a third-and-14 as a result of Cousins not getting the snap off in time before being penalized for delay of game. Hopkins would match Connor Barth’s field goal but the Redskins would continue to trail by three with 7:33 left in the game. With the defense asked to come up with one more stop against the Buccaneers, they could not as Mike Evans continued to crucify Washington. Evan converted for the Bucs on a third-and-7 and third-and-3 play before Doug Martin got loose for 49 yards before Bashaud Breeland made another game saving tackle. With five yards to defense over three plays, the Redskins defense stood tall and gave Cousins a chance by forcing a field goal to put the deficit at 30-24.

All Cousins has ever wanted during his career is a chance. Now in the spotlight Cousins had 2:23 and two timeouts to drive 80 yards for a game winning touchdown. Cousins stood tall and completed EIGHT straight passes while managing the clock. The last of the eight was a great, beautiful throw to the rookie Jamison Crowder for 18 yards setting up a first-and-goal from the 6. After two incompletions, the latter nearly picked off, Cousins came back with a slant touchdown to Jordan Reed by going away from the diamond formation on the other side of the field. With 24 seconds left for the Bucs, the Redskins recovered a panicked lateral from Chris Sims to finish the game off with a 31-30 victory and heading into the bye at 3-4.

Oh yeah Captain Kirk also demands that you like this recap (h\t @CSNRedskins)!

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.


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