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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bucs—Steady Garçon a key

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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bucs—Steady Garçon a key

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, October 25, the day the Washington Redskins host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bucs

—Pierre Garçon has been a steadying presence in an offense that has been missing key players all season long. He has been targeted fewer than eight times this year just once is on pace to catch 85 passes for 785 yards. The receptions would be the second-most of his career. If the Redskins win today he will be a big part of it, perhaps benefitting from the return of TE Jordan Reed as much as anyone.

—It’s hard to look at the Bucs and think that Doug Martin isn’t the main weapon they have to stop. He rushed for 78 yards in the Bucs’ Week 2 win over the Saints and he rolled for 123 yards and two touchdowns when they beat the Jaguars two weeks ago. If the Redskins don’t contain him it will be a long day.

—I don’t think that there is anything that Kirk Cousins can do to lose his job today but he sure can keep it from being a miserable two weeks. If the “good’ Kirk shows up, the one who doesn’t throw any interceptions and who mostly hits his receivers in stride, the narrative during the bye will be that he has righted the ship and has a good chance to have a solid final nine games. But calls for him to be benched will get louder if the Cousins we’ve seen for the last two weeks is on the field today. Again, I doubt that Jay Gruden makes a move regardless but it will be harder and harder for him not to at least consider it.

—The Redskins’ third-quarter problems have gone on all year but they really became a topic of conversation around the team facility this week. They need to come out of the locker room and do something about it. If they kick off to start the third quarter they need to force a punt. If they get the ball they need a scoring drive. And whatever they do they can’t turn the ball over. They have 11 turnovers this season. Nearly half of them, five, have happened in the third quarter. The opponents have turned all five into touchdowns. Talk about halftime adjustments all you want but 35 points off of turnovers and five lost possessions is hard to make chicken salad out of.

—The “code red” situation has been discussed all week. It’s OK for a coach to pull out that card every once in a while and make one regular season game more important than the other 15. But it had better work. I think it will today. This is a better team than the one that lost to the Bucs 27-7 at home last year and they should be able to avoid stepping on a land mine like this one. Tampa Bay also is better and I don’t see an easy win. But the return of Reed will help Cousins out and a Redskins defense burned twice in a row on the ground won’t let it happened again. It won’t be pretty but the Redskins will take a 21-13 win.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Bucs @ Redskins, 1 p.m., FOX

Days until: Redskins @ Patriots 14; Saints @ Redskins 21; Redskins @ Panthers 28

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.