Last week, the Washington Redskins’ head coach Jay Gruden said that their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was put on “code red.” Many observers thought that statement was over the top but actually he had a point. The quarterback that he decided to ride with in Kirk Cousins just came off of a two interception game against the Jets last Sunday. The defense has started to struggle and injuries were mounting up. But let’s be real, it was a code red because there were concerns with the quarterback position that was tied to Jay Gruden’s coaching job; which leads us to Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers.
The pressure was all around FedEx Field. If Cousins played poorly there was a chance that he and Gruden could be out of town in the near future. The game didn’t start well with Buccaneers’ quarterback Jameis Winston hitting wide receiver Mike Evans for a 40 yard touchdown reception. The feeling around FedEx was here we go again. Then you had Buccaneers’ running backs Doug Martin and Charles Sims gash the Redskins’ defense for big running plays. It didn’t help that the Redskins’ offense was stagnant against a defense that is known to give up points. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, in second quarter Cousins fumbles the ball and Buccaneers’ defensive end Howard Jones recovered the football and took it to the end zone for a touchdown. That touchdown gave the Buccaneers a 24-0 lead. Fans started to boo the team and leave the stadium. Mission code red wasn’t looking good. At the end of the half the Redskins were down 24-7.
It’s half time. Many observers thought it was over. You had Buccaneers’ fans and media representatives grinning with joy. They all believed that coach Gruden and the Redskins couldn’t complete this code red mission. It’s the 3rd quarter, yes the same quarter that has provided problems for the team. Instead of sticking with the trend, the team went away from the norm and came out the half playing spirited. Cousins lead a four play 60 yard drive capped off with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Ryan Grant (first NFL TD reception of his career). Wow, a 3rd quarter TD! The mission is making progress. With the score now being 24-14, Gruden unleashed his secret weapon in kicker Dustin Hopkins. Hopkins jogged on to the field and was ready to kick the ball off for a touchback; well that’s what the Buccaneers thought. Hopkins ambushes the Buccaneers and kicks a perfect onside kick which was recovered by Redskins’ safety Trent Robinson. The sneak attack was perfect. Momentum was now on the Redskins’ side. The Redskins offense takes advantage of the play with Cousins leading the Redskins to a scoring drive—hitting tight end Jordan Reed for three yard touchdown reception. The score was now 24-21. Could Gruden successfully execute the code red?
It’s the 4th quarter; the once booing fans are now cheering the home team. The once happy Buccaneers’ fans are now sweating it out and concerned. Momentum can be such a beautiful thing. The Redskins and Buccaneers traded field goals and now the score is 27-24, Buccaneers on top. Now the drama begins. Its 1st and 10 on the Buccaneers 46 yard line. Winston hands the ball off to running back Martin. Martin breaks it to the outside and looks like he is going to basically end the game with a TD. But no, Redskins’ cornerback Bashaud Breeland hustles from the other end of the field and tackles Martin at the Redskins’ five yard line—Breeland, staying true to his code red mission. On that play, Breeland pulled a hamstring. I guess sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to execute a mission. Later on, during coach Gruden’s presser, he stated that Breeland’s play was the “play of the game.” Breeland was just being a good soldier. Sometimes you need a few good men. The Redskins’ defense ended up holding the Buccaneers to a field goal (score 30-24, Buccaneers). Now it’s time for the Captain to execute and complete the code red.
Cousins started the drive with 2:24 at the Redskins’ 20 yard line. Within this drive, Cousins was precise and sharp leading the team down the field as if he was back in college playing for Michigan State, back then he was known as “Captain Comeback.” Cousins had a lot of pressure in this game. Before the game he had many detractors wanting to see him benched. Now was his moment to shut up the critics. Cousins drove the ball all the way to the Buccaneers’ six yard line with 32 seconds left. It was 3rd and goal. Redskins were in a bunched wide receiver set on one side and tight end Reed on the other with man coverage. Cousins, like the Captain of a mission, threw a strike to Reed in essence to win the game. Captain Kirk Cousins completed the mission, leading the Redskins to their largest comeback in franchise history. After the game he even yelled to reporters “you like that.” Cousins executed the code red, saving the Redskins season. Cousins has now shown the haters that he does have a clutch gene. Here are Cousins’ final stats for the game: 33/40, 317 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. Like it or not haters, I’m not sure if you can handle the truth, but this Captain maybe the quarterback for the entire season. For one week the code red was executed!