LANDOVER, Md. - No Washington Redskins quarterback had ever captained a comeback quite like the one Kirk Cousins oversaw Sunday.
Cousins threw three second-half touchdown passes, including the go-ahead score to Jordan Reed with 24 seconds left, to lead the Redskins past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-30 on Sunday after trailing by 24 points.
It is the largest deficit overcome by the Redskins (3-4) in a victory.
Cousins finished 33 for 40 for 317 yards, the three TDs and zero interceptions. He also ran for an 8-yard touchdown in the second quarter for Washington's first points.
There is a clear pattern to Washington's season so far: In the team's three wins, Cousins has not thrown a single INT; in the four losses, he has been picked off twice each time.
This was the fourth-year QB's second last-minute comeback win this season, both at home. Cousins led the Redskins past the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4.
Jameis Winston, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, was 21 for 29 for 297 yards and two first-half touchdowns that helped Tampa Bay (2-4) build a 24-0 lead in the second quarter. Doug Martin ran for 136 yards on 19 carries.
Cousins hadn't completed more than one TD pass in any game all season, and there were those wondering whether his time as the starter might be coming to an end. But he got a pair of 3-yard scores in the third quarter, sandwiched around an onside kick, to make things interesting.
Then, trailing 30-24, Washington got the ball at its 20 with a little less than 2 1/2 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Cousins threw on every play, going 9 for 11 for 75 yards, capped by the 6-yard toss to Reed.
Until Sunday, the Redskins' biggest comeback victories had overcome 21-point holes.
Tampa Bay certainly helped the hosts' cause this time, with 16 penalties for 142 yards
Mike Evans finally came up big this season, and a couple of undrafted guys from lower-tier college programs playing in their second NFL game also got in on the act for the Bucs early.
Evans caught a 40-yard TD pass on Tampa Bay's third play from scrimmage. Division III Heidelberg University's Donteea Dye had a 17-yard scoring reception from Winston, and Division II Shepherd University's Howard Jones returned a fumble by Cousins 43 yards for a TD.
But the Redskins began chipping away, first on Cousins' TD run, and then in the third quarter, the portion of games that had been devastating dreadful for Washington this season. The Redskins came into Sunday having been outscored 46-3 in that period.
Coach Jay Gruden, who had labeled this game a "code red" situation for the Redskins, vowed all week to emphasize better third-quarter production. Something finally clicked.