The Washington Redskins used a huge second-half effort to erase a 24-7 halftime deficit and come back to defeat the Buccaneers, 31-30, Sunday at FedExField.
Through their first six games of the 2015 season, the Washington Redskins showed they had no problem coming out at the start of games -- leading at halftime in five of six games -- but couldn't quite find the formula coming out of halftime.
Check out these top photos from the Washington Redskins 2015 Week 7 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Oct. 25, 2015, at FedExField.
Those trends were reversed on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon in front of 72,912 fans at FedExField, Washington went into halftime trailing 24-7 in what looked like a sure blowout during their annual alumni homecoming matchup. But they came out on fire in the third quarter with 14 unanswered points to cut the Buccaneers' lead to 24-21, and would eventually complete the comeback in the fourth quarter.
Washington heads into its Bye Week with an inspired 31-30 win over Tampa Bay to move to 3-4 on the season.
The Buccaneers started the fourth quarter by overcoming a huge sack at the end of the third quarter to convert a 45-yard field goal by kicker Connor Barth.
The field goal ended a 21-0 run for the Redskins that started with 4:26 left in the second quarter.
Washington would respond with a field goal of its own on the ensuing drive to cut the lead back to three at 27-24, as Dustin Hopkins' field-goal attempt from 35 yards out was money.
The Buccaneers responded, using a huge 49-run from Doug Martin to get to the Washington 5-yard line. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland made a huge play to run down Martin on the play and make the tackle, but would suffer a hamstring injury and be ruled out for the rest of the game.
Washington's defense would stand strong, not allowing Tampa Bay to find the end zone, however. Barth would convert a 21-yard field goal to give the Buccaneers a 30-24 lead with 2:24 left in the game.
The Redskins, who had two timeouts, began their final drive from their own 20 and earned a first down at the two-minute warning on a 5-yard pass from Kirk Cousins to tight end Jordan Reed.
They got past midfield on 1st and 10 when Cousins found Andre Roberts for an eight-yard completion to the Tampa Bay 48. Cousins then found Pierre Garçon for a 10-yard completion to the Buccaneers' 38. Next play: Cousins to Reed for seven yards to the 31.
Cousins drew the defense into the neutral zone next, earning a penalty and giving his team a 1st and 10 from the 27.
The next play was a thing of beauty: an 18-yard completion over the top to rookie wide receiver Jamison Crowder, getting Washington to the 6-yard line. They called timeout with 36 remaining in the game.
Three plays later, Cousins and the Redskins faced 3rd and Goal from the 6. Cousins found his man again, Jordan Reed, in the end zone for the game-tying touchdown with 24 seconds left. Hopkins' extra point was good, and the Redskins' comeback was complete.
The touchdown to Reed capped a brilliant 11-play, 80-yard drive that took two minutes off the clock. Absolutely clutch play from Cousins and the Redskins' offense.
The Buccaneers, with no timeouts left, could not muster anything in their final 24 seconds, and the Washington fans went home extremely happy Sunday afternoon.
THIRD QUARTER: BUCCANEERS 24, REDSKINS 21
Down 24-7 to start the second half, the Redskins knew the third-quarter woes that has haunted them all season could not surface Sunday vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But to Washington's credit, the team couldn't have turned in a better third quarter Sunday.
They let the Buccaneers beat themselves up and commit untimely penalties on their first drive of the second half. After receiving the opening kickoff of the third quarter, the Buccaneers faced a 3rd and 14 from their 30 when quarterback Jameis Winston took off on a scramble. Linebacker Jackson Jeffcoat stripped the ball from Winston, who recovered, and in the ensuing scrum, Ali Marpet was flagged for unnecessary roughness after shoving safety Dashon Goldson.
The Redskins responded.
A four-play, 60-yard drive -- highlighted by a nice 38-yard grab by Andre Roberts -- was capped by a three-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to second-year receiver Ryan Grant, the first touchdown reception of the Tulane product's career.
With 11:10 remaining in the third quarter, the Redskins had cut the Buccaneers' lead to 10, 24-14.
But it didn't stop there. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden dialed up an onside kick by Dustin Hopkins, which was executed to perfection. Trenton Robinson recovered the ball at the Washington 49-yard line to represent the first recovered onside kick by the kicking team in the NFL this season.
Very first play on the ensuing drive? Cousins to Grant, again, this time for 32 yards to the Tampa Bay 19-yard line. After a false start penalty, Cousins took off for an eight-yard run and then found Jamison Crowder for an eight-yard pass-and-catch.
A defensive holding call gave the Redskins 1st and Goal from the eight. Two plays after a three-yard pass to tight end Jordan Reed, Cousins found Reed once again, this time for a touchdown from three yards out.
A Hopkins extra point cut the Buccaneers' lead to 24-21 with 7:01 left in the third quarter.
Wow. Talk about a shift in momentum.
Now, the Redskins fans who were audibly frustrated with their team's first-half performance were a loud bunch to deal with for the Buccaneers, who had to call a timeout on 3rd and 5 on their ensuing drive.
The Bucs got to the Washington 30-yard line, but a huge sack on second down by Stephen Paea and Terrance Knighton backed them up to the Redskins' 40, where they'll have a 3rd and 27 when we get started in the fourth quarter.
HALFTIME: BUCCANEERS 24, REDSKINS 7
The second quarter began just as it ended Sunday afternoon at FedExField.
Already leading 10-0 after the first quarter, Jameis Winston used a 14-play, 72-yard drive that cut seven minutes off the clock to throw a dime in the end zone to wide receiver Donteea Dye for a seven-yard touchdown reception.
After the extra point, the Redskins trailed 17-0 with 11:34 left in the second quarter.
The Redskins earned their first non-three-and-out on their ensuing drive, as a Matt Jones six-yard run on 2nd and 5 moved the chains.
A 21-yard pass from Kirk Cousins to Pierre Garçon on the very next play put Washington in Tampa Bay territory for the first time all afternoon, placing the Redskins at the Buccaneers' 48-yard line.
But three plays later, the Redskins would face a 3rd and 7 from the Buccaneers' 45-yard line when the worst possible result surfaced: Cousins was sacked and fumbled the ball on a play by defensive end Jacquies Smith. Howard Jones would take the ball 43 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.
With just more than eight minutes to go in the second quarter, the Redskins were trailing 24-0. To add insult to injury, outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan was ruled out for the game with a hand injury.
The Redskins got things going on their next drive, however. Cousins would use the read option from eight yards out to keep it himself and score on the ground. After the Dustin Hopkins extra point, Washington trailed 24-7 with 4:26 left.
It was a seven-play, 74-yard drive that took 3:53 off the clock.
The Redskins' defense responded, forcing the first Buccaneers punt of the afternoon and setting up two-minute drill situation with just less than three minutes to go in the first half.
But an illegal shift penalty on Washington would stall their drive at the Tampa Bay 47, forcing another punt.
The Buccaneers began their final drive of the second quarter from their own 12-yard line, but were unable to find the end zone or get into field goal range.
FIRST QUARTER: BUCCANEERS 10, REDSKINS 0
The Buccaneers won the opening coin toss, electing to defer to the second half and kicking off to the Redskins to begin the game.
Check out images of the Washington Redskins warming up and taking the field prior to their 2015 Week 7 matchup vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Oct. 25, 2015, at FedExField.
But an Alfred Morris stuffed run and two short passes later, and Washington could only muster seven yards on its opening drive, being forced to punt.
Not the high-powered start the Redskins were hoping to get to open the afternoon.
Tampa Bay sent rookie quarterback Jameis Winston and their offense onto the field for their first possession at their 36-yard line after a 46-yard punt by Tress Way. Two plays later, running back Doug Martin chugged his way into Washington territory on a 23-yard carry to the Redskins' 40-yard line.
Next play: another breakdown, this time worse. Winston found second-year receiver Mike Evans over the top of cornerback Will Blackmon for a 40-yard touchdown. It was the first touchdown allowed by the Redskins' defense on the opponent's opening drive all season.
Blackmon appeared to initially have a beat on the ball in one-on-one coverage, but Winston put enough loft and distance into the throw to put it right in Evans' wheelhouse.
The Redskins began their second drive from their own 20. On the second play of the drive, Kirk Cousins' pass attempt to Andre Roberts sailed and landed incomplete, but a defensive holding call gave Washington a first down at the 26.
But on 3rd and 1, Cousins attempted to connect with rookie running back Matt Jones for a quick out pass just pass the first-down marker, but Jones dropped the ball to force another Washington punt.
Through two series, the Redskins have run the ball three times for a combined zero yards. They need to get the run game going to set up play action opportunities and deeper connections down the field.
Tampa Bay got it going again on the ensuing possession, using two Martin seven-yard runs and a 29-yard pass to Louis Murphy to get to the Washington 37-yard line. A 25-yard connection to Evans on the next play, and the Buccaneers were at the Washington 12.
But their drive would stall at the 4-yard line. Connor Barth would connect from 22 yards out to extend the Tampa Bay lead to 10-0 with 5:06 left in the first quarter.
Ten minutes into the game, and nothing is going right for the Redskins. They have 17 total yards – all passing – and have allowed 140 yards to Tampa Bay (104 passing, 36 rushing).
The next drive for the Redskins: much of the same. Three and out. A deep pass attempt from Cousins to Roberts fell incomplete on third down, leading to the punt.
On their ensuing drive, Tampa Bay faced a 3rd and 9 from the Washington 39, when Winston, with a defender in his face, threw a strike to Vincent Jackson for 13 yards and a first down at the Redskins' 26.
They're deep in Washington territory when we pick up action in the second quarter.