Redskins stay in first, defeat Bills
LANDOVER, Md. — As Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder paced nearby, 20 or so of his team’s players gathered in the trainer’s area off the locker room Sunday, delighted by their own just-completed victory and waiting to find out exactly how big a deal it was.
Left tackle Trent Williams and other Redskins watched the closing seconds of their NFC East rival New York Giants’ loss on TV, letting loose a loud celebration — raised arms, fist pumps, yells of “Yes!” — at the end. After last-place finishes in six of the last seven years, Washington is closing in on clinching a playoff berth.
Inspiring a soundtrack of “You like that!” chants in the stands, Kirk Cousins equaled his career high with four touchdown passes and ran 13 yards for another score, helping the Redskins win consecutive games for the first time in more than a year and stay atop the division standings by beating the Buffalo Bills 35-25.
“We had a lot on our hands. Everybody said we couldn’t win back-to-back games,” said receiver DeSean Jackson, who turned a short throw from Cousins into a 77-yard TD. “So this was the first time in a long time we were able to get accomplished what we wanted to get accomplished.”
The Redskins (7-7) can secure a spot in the postseason by winning next Saturday night at the Philadelphia Eagles,
“We still have a dogfight in front of us. And we can’t walk before we crawl, put it like that,” Williams said. “We’ve got to focus on the Eagles.”
The Bills (6-8) are now assured of missing the playoffs for the 16th year in a row, the longest active drought in the NFL.
“Did it go according to plan? No, not this year,” said Rex Ryan, in his first season as Buffalo’s coach.
Said defensive end Mario Williams: “Of course there’s going to be changes. That’s obvious. You just wait and see if your number is called, that’s all.”
Making Ryan’s defense look inept, and aided by a key fourth-down encroachment penalty, the Redskins scored TDs on each of their first three possessions of a game for the first time since September 1999, grabbing a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Even when Washington made a potentially bad mistake of its own — rookie returner Jamison Crowder fumbled a punt near midfield — Buffalo couldn’t take advantage. The Bills drove all the way to Washington’s 1, but running back LeSean McCoy got stuffed twice, before Tyrod Taylor overthrew Sammy Watkins by a ton in the end zone on fourth down.
“That was a huge stop,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said.
After Buffalo made it 28-17 with a two-play, 85-yard drive — capped by the first of Taylor’s two TD passes to Watkins — the Redskins responded with a 13-play, 80-yard drive. That ended with Cousins’ 5-yard TD toss to Pierre Garcon early in the fourth quarter.
Fans repeatedly responded to touchdowns with full-throated serenades of “You like that!” — a reference to what Cousins screamed as he trotted to the locker room after a comeback victory earlier this season.
“I had to turn my headsets up a little bit,” Gruden said. “I couldn’t hear play calls and all that stuff.”
Cousins hit tight end Jordan Reed for a pair of scores in the first half. Jackson spun away from defensive back Corey Graham for his long score in the third quarter.
“I never thought he was Jerry Rice,” Ryan said about Jackson. “But I guess I was wrong.”
Cousins completed his first nine passes and finished 22 for 28 for 319 yards and no interceptions. It was his sixth 300-yard passing day of the season, a franchise record. He equaled another club mark, set way back in 1967 by Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen, by starting the season with at least one TD throw in 14 straight games.
“He’s definitely gotten better,” Trent Williams said. “We had faith in him the whole time. But he continues to grow and he’s playing lights-out.”
Notes: Washington had alternated victories and losses for the past eight games, the longest such run in the league. … McCoy left early in the second half after hurting his right knee, and backup Mike Gilleslee delivered a 60-yard touchdown run. … Redskins injuries: S Dashon Goldson (bruised rib), RT Morgan Moses (sprained foot), RB Matt Jones (bruised hip), C Josh LeRibeus (sprained ankle), LB Will Compton (stinger).