October 26, 2015

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) So just for a moment, imagine this scenario, one that seemed quite plausible when everything was going wrong, the home crowd was booing and the Washington Redskins were facing a 24-0 hole in the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

The game never changes direction, Kirk Cousins fails to throw a touchdown pass (let alone three), coach Jay Gruden's call for a ''code red'' falls flat, and a third consecutive loss drops the Redskins to 2-5 heading into the bye week ahead of a game at the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

Then what? Cousins gets benched? Gruden twists in the wind? The season is kaput? What might the fallout have been?

''Whew. I try not to think about that one,'' Gruden said at Redskins Park on Monday, before adding with a chuckle: ''I probably wouldn't be standing up here today.''

Possibly. Who knows when it comes to the Redskins (3-4) under owner Daniel Snyder, with their history of last-place finish after last-place finish and coaching change after coaching change?

But such speculation doesn't matter, of course, because Washington did turn things around, putting together the largest comeback in franchise history to beat Tampa Bay 31-30 on Cousins' 6-yard TD pass to Jordan Reed with 24 seconds remaining Sunday.

Early in the second quarter, Tampa Bay led in first downs (11-1), total yards (237-21) and yards rushing (85-2). And Washington's only first down to that point arrived thanks to a penalty against the Bucs.

Gruden described the beginning of the game as akin to getting ''your teeth knocked in'' and ''total domination'' by the Bucs, a team that won only two games last season and is now 2-4 this season.

''It was a terrible start to a football game. It really was. And that's what makes the victory all the more sweeter,'' Gruden said. ''To come back from that whoopin' in that first quarter and put three good quarters of football together and get a comeback victory - the biggest ever in Redskin history - it's awesome.''

If everything went terribly for Washington in the first half, it went nearly perfectly in the second.

Cousins hadn't thrown more than one touchdown pass in any game all season; he threw two about 4 1/2 minutes apart in the third quarter.

No team in the entire NFL had successfully recovered its own onside kick all season entering Sunday; the Redskins got one between that pair of scores.

Bashaud Breeland's TD-saving tackle of Doug Martin, followed by a goal-line stand, forced the Bucs to settle for a field goal that left their lead at only six points and gave Washington nearly 2 1/2 minutes to go 80 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

Cousins was 9 for 11 for 75 yards on that drive; the other 5 yards came via one of Tampa Bay's 16 penalties.

Overall, Cousins went 33 for 40 for 317 yards, the trio of scores, zero interceptions - and one GIF heard `round the world: It showed the QB yelling, ''You like that?! You like that?!'' as he headed to the locker room.

''He's obviously shown flashes of being one heck of a quarterback,'' Gruden said. ''And he's had some times where you, like, scratch your head sometimes.''

Notes: LB Ryan Kerrigan had surgery Monday for a broken bone in his right hand. Gruden said ''there is hope'' that Kerrigan could be available to face the Patriots on Nov. 8. ... ''There is concern'' about Breeland's right hamstring injury, Gruden said. ... LB Keenan Robinson has ''maybe a slightly fractured rib'' and oblique strain, Gruden said.



AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/AP-NFL


Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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