Redskins beat Bucs with third-down turnaround
LANDOVER, Md. -- The Bucs' collapse from a 24-0 lead to a 31-30 loss to the Redskins on Sunday went hand-in-hand with Tampa Bay's defense losing the ability to stop Washington's offense on third down.
In the first half, the Redskins went 0-for-5 on third downs, with quarterback Kirk Cousins going 1-for-4 for 4 yards, with a sack and fumble that resulted in a defensive touchdown on the way to a 24-7 halftime advantage.
In the second half, however, Cousins was consistently able to move the ball well enough to set up third-and-short situations, and from there, Washington converted 5 of 6 third downs after halftime. Cousins was especially sharp on third down in the second half, going 5-for-5 passing for 72 yards with two touchdowns, including the game winner with 24 seconds left on a third-and-goal play.
The Bucs, it should be noted, were also strong on third down, converting 7 of 12 opportunities behind stellar passing from rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. Only weeks removed from going 1-for-12 passing on third downs, Winston was 7-for-8 for 89 yards and a touchdown on third down Sunday, his lone miss on his first third-down pass in the first quarter to set up a red-zone field goal.
Cousins, though, saved his best football for the fourth quarter -- he went 13-for-16 for 109 yards in the fourth quarter, including a 9-for-11 showing on the game-winning touchdown drive. He completed 33 passes in all, and two-third of them -- 22 total -- gained less than 10 yards, moving the chains with short passes on a day in which the Redskins would rush for only 50 yards as a team.
Cousins' passing improved as the game progressed -- just four completions in the first quarter, then eight each in the second and third quarter, then 13 in the final period.