In his first NFL start, Washington Redskins rookie QB Kirk Cousins staged a resurgent 'Skins second half, defeating the Cleveland Browns 38-21. Cousins threw for 329 yards and two TDs while completing 15-of-18 passes for 183 yards in a second half highlighted by four 'Skins touchdowns.
Today's victory is the Redskins' fifth straight and moves the team into a share of first place in the NFC East.
Cousins was named the starter Saturday night in a team meeting, replacing injured starter and fellow rookie QB Robert Griffin III, who didn't dress for the Browns game and watched from the sideline.
RG3 was seen during the game several times in conversation with Cousins, who led the 'Skins in a dramatic come-from-behind tie and overtime win last week against the Baltimore Ravens. Prior to today's game against the Browns, QB Cousins had thrown just 11 passes as a 'Skins quarterback.
Today's game was another impressive offensive and defensive performance by a 'Skins team who were 3-6 six weeks ago. Here is a recap of today's game and 10 things worth noting.
1. With a win today, the 'Skins have a five-game winning streak, their longest winning streak since 2005.
2. Cousins started the game and displayed some rookie tendencies in the first half, including one completion in his first six passes and an interception that led to a Browns TD and the first score of the game. In the second half, Cousins completed 15-of-18 passes for 183 yards and two TDs. His finished the game with a rating of 104.4—which matches RG3's rating for the 2012 season.
3. I call it the "Garcon Factor." The 'Skins are 7-1 with WR Pierre Garcon as a starter. They are 1-5 without him. Garcon finished today's game with six catches for 65 yards and he was the favorite target of QB Cousins, who threw to him 12 times.
4. With two TDs rushing today, RB Alfred Morris set a 'Skins record for most TDs for a rookie, with nine, as he passed RB Skip Hicks (1998) who held the record with eight. Morris finished with 87 yards on 27 carries to snap his three-game streak of 100-plus yards rushing.
5. Linebacker London Fletcher extended his consecutive games played record (238) in his career and topped off today's performance with his third interception in four games and a team high seven tackles. Fletcher has 13 straight seasons with 100-plus tackles.
6. Kicker Kai Forbath has not missed a field goal this season (14-of-14) and holds the NFL rookie record for most consecutive FGs as a rookie. The previous record was held by New Orleans Saints K Garrett Hartley, who was 13-of-13 in 2008.
7. The 'Skins continue to convert turnovers into points as they scored 14 of their 28 points following interceptions in the second half.
8. Despite allowing two rushing TDs by Browns RB Trent Richardson, the 'Skins defense held Richardson to 28 yards, which was well below his 69 yards per game average.
9. The Redskins scored on four of five opportunities inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
10. The Cousins-led 'Skins offense finished with 430 yards total offense and it's the seventh time this season the team have surpassed 30-plus points scored.
With two games remaining in the regular season, the Redskins hold the tiebreaker advantage in the NFC East with just one loss against division opponents. Their two remaining games are against division opponents.
Next week the 'Skins play on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles, who they defeated 31-6 in Week 11 to start their current winning streak. They conclude the regular season at home against the Dallas Cowboys, who they defeated on Thanksgiving Day 38-31.
It should be an interesting week for Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and staff as they evaluate the condition of RG3's injury and weigh their options now that Cousins proved his abilities as a NFL starter. Could it be possible the 'Skins have a quarterback controversy? I could think of worse problems for a team to have, as the 'Skins are not only on the road to the playoffs, they are in the driver's seat.
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