LANDOVER — They are all even now.
A ragged start to the season left the Redskins frustrated and critics sharpening their knives. But a pair of victories can do wonders for a team’s confidence.
It wasn’t pretty. But the Redskins pulled away from the Cleveland Browns late for a 31-20 victory on Sunday at FedEx Field. After an 0-2 start, Washington is now back to .500 and ready to move on to the next quarter of the season with a little bit of hope.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said.
For a time it looked like the Redskins were headed for an unthinkable loss. The Browns, who entered FedEx Field on Sunday winless, were ahead 20-17 and had the ball on the 16. They were poised to extend the lead and put Washington in a precarious position late in the third quarter.
Instead, linebacker Will Compton read a stretch run by Cleveland fullback Malcolm Johnson and made a quick decision: “All I was thinking was be physical as hell on that tackle,” Compton said.
Johnson showed up suddenly through a maze of blockers and Compton lunged, punched at the ball and tried to strip it away. It worked. Cornerback Quinton Dunbar fell onto the loose ball at the 9 and the Redskins took over.
“Comp came through,” defensive end Ricky Jean Francois said. “Our captain came through and did what he needed to do to do and we got the ball back.”
Ten plays later Cousins found running back Chris Thompson with a tricky little pass and he ran into the end zone for a 24-20 lead.
A fumble by Browns running back Duke Johnson three plays later and an interception by cornerback Josh Norman on the next possession after that crippled Cleveland’s hopes. Washington running back Matt Jones put the game away with a 1-yard touchdown run with 4:28 to go.
“I like the way we rebounded from being 0-2,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “Didn’t like being 0-2, but it’s good to get our first home win. I think there’s a lot of positives that we can draw from our four-game start and there’s a lot of things we can clean up. That’s probably going to be the case with every NFL coach out there now.”
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