HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Pro Football Writer
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — The cheers rang out around the stands, growing more popular and more vociferous with each of Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins’ four TD passes and his 13-yard run for another score: “You like that! You like that! You like that!”
“I had to turn my headsets up a little bit,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “I couldn’t hear play calls and all that stuff.”
For a QB who began the season as a career backup, Cousins sure is Mr. Popularity these days.
“We’re happy the way Kirk is progressing, but this is a one-week deal, man,” Gruden said. “They love you one week, and who knows what will happen the next week? But I feel good about where Kirk is.”
And why not?
Cousins equaled his career high with the quartet of touchdown tosses during Washington’s 35-25 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday that gave the Redskins consecutive wins for the first time in more than a year and allowed them to stay atop the NFC East standings.
“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.”
At 7-7, the Redskins now face a decisive matchup at the division rival Philadelphia Eagles next Saturday night.
“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.”
At 6-8, meanwhile, the Bills are assured of missing the playoffs.
“Did it go according to plan? No, not this year,” said Rex Ryan, who is in his first season as Buffalo’s coach.
Here are other things to know about the game:
YOU LIKE THAT!: Back in October, after engineering a comeback victory, Cousins screamed “You like that!” in front of cameras while walking to the locker room. Thus was born a meme — and fans serenaded him with the phrase Sunday. “I had to look at some of the fans and read their lips,” defensive lineman Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton said. “I hope he’s making money from that.” Cousins, who did raise cash for charity by selling T-shirts with those words, finished 22 for 28 for 319 yards and no interceptions.
SCOREBOARD WATCHING: After six last-place finishes in seven years, the Redskins are relevant in December — and they’re keeping tabs on other teams’ results. After this win, as Redskins owner Dan Snyder paced nearby, 20 or so players gathered in the trainer’s area off the locker room, watching the closing seconds of the New York Giants’ loss on TV. When former Redskins kicker Graham Gano beat the Giants with a 43-yard field goal, current Washington players unleashed a loud celebration.
CHANGE COMING?: The Bills will sit out the postseason for the 16th year in a row, and Ryan says the question becomes: Who will be back next season? “We have two games to prove that we belong here. That’s every coach, every player. Everybody,” Ryan said. “That’s just the reality of this business.” The Bills (6-8), who once reached four consecutive Super Bowls, own the longest active playoff drought in the NFL. 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.”
HUGE STAND: Late in the second quarter, Washington rookie returner Jamison Crowder fumbled a punt near midfield, but 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,” Gruden said. “A huge, huge turning point.” McCoy left in the third quarter with a right knee injury.
JERRY RICE: Early in the fourth quarter, Cousins threw a short ball to speedy wideout DeSean Jackson, who spun away from a defensive back and turned it into a 77-yard touchdown play. It was part of a six-catch, 153-yard afternoon for Jackson. “I never thought he was Jerry Rice,” Ryan said. “But I guess I was wrong.” Jackson is tied for third in NFL history with 20 TDs of at least 60 yards, trailing only Rice and Devin Hester.
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