Redskins thrive in red zone, force turnovers to beat Browns 31-20

Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed (86) catches  a touchdown pass  in front of Cleveland Browns free safety Jordan Poyer (33) during first half of an NFL football game Sunday October 2nd, 2016 in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed (86) catches a touchdown pass in front of Cleveland Browns free safety Jordan Poyer (33) during first half of an NFL football game Sunday October 2nd, 2016 in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Cashing in with four red zone touchdowns and taking the ball away at crucial moments allowed the Washington Redskins to win a game they could’ve easily lost to the Cleveland Browns.

Kirk Cousins threw three touchdown passes, including two to tight end Jordan Reed, and the Redskins forced three second-half turnovers to complete a 31-20 victory Sunday that kept the Browns winless on the season.

“It’s just what we needed to do,” said Cousins, who was 21 of 27 for 183 yards and also had an interception. “The defense did a great job at getting us momentum with those turnovers. We ran the ball well. … I think being able to run the ball effectively certainly got us going.”

Washington (2-2) scored more touchdowns in the red zone against Cleveland (0-4) than it did in the first three games of the season, when it was 3 for 14 . Cousins connected with Reed for 8- and 9-yard touchdowns, Chris Thompson for a 5-yard score, and running back Matt Jones scored from 1 yard out as part of his 117-yard performance.

“We just found a way to execute, found some mismatches,” Thompson said. “The run game is key. Matt had a great day today and it was able to help out our pass game, help Kirk out.”

The Redskins blew a 14-0 lead and fell behind 20-17 before shutting down Cleveland’s running game and taking the ball back. Linebacker Will Compton forced a fumble by fullback Malcolm Johnson — on the first carry of his career — late in the third, Ziggy Hood knocked the ball out of Duke Johnson’s hands early in the fourth and Josh Norman picked off Cody Kessler to set up Jones’ touchdown.

“We’ve got to get stuff corrected,” Compton said. “But we won the game. We made big plays when we needed to make big plays.”

Browns running back Isaiah Crowell ran for 112 yards and a touchdown, and Kessler was 27 of 38 for 215 yards, one touchdown and one interception.