Although the Redskins were able to keep things interesting in Atlanta behind the quarterbacking of Kirk Cousins, the Falcons were able to capitalize on Washington's numerous mistakes and defend home turf, winning the game 27-26.
Here's my postgame six-pack of notes on a whatever-it-doesn't-matter Monday morning.
1. Kirk Cousins
Say what you want about strength of the opponent—Kirk Cousins still had a pretty good day throwing the football.
Sure, his two interceptions were on him and he had a handful of throws that didn’t seem very wise, forcing us all to hold our breath until the pass eventually touched the turf without being intercepted. But in terms of footwork, mechanics, pocket presence, awareness and accuracy, Cousins has looked arguably the best we’ve seen out of any quarterback in burgundy and gold all season.
2. Efficient on Third Down
The Redskins went 5-of-10 on third down against the Falcons. That’s a difference-maker in most ball games.
3. Stifling Defense?
Despite Steven Jackson ending the day with two rushing touchdowns, the Redskins held the Falcons running game in check all day. And while Matt Ryan had an accurate day throwing the football, he ended the game with just 210 yards and a score.
I know what you’re thinking. And you’re right—it’s Atlanta. But the defense deserves credit. The Redskins committed seven turnovers in one game and yet still had a chance to win.
Did we mention seven frickin' turnovers in one game?
Give me Cousins’ poor throws leading to interceptions in the Falcons game, as well as the pass rush that led to the quarterback’s lost fumble. I'll take those all day. But nothing was more frustrating than the Redskins’ other four turnovers.
Two fumbles by Alfred Morris were far from typical, and one could be placed on the rear end of Tom Compton, after the backup left tackle (subbing momentarily for Trent Williams) was pushed back into Morris’ carrying hand.
The other two fumbles were by veteran receiver Santana Moss—one on a punt return where blame could be thrown around elsewhere, and the other where Moss was simply trying to do too much.
Eliminate just half of the Redskins’ turnovers on Sunday and Washington wins the game.
5. Pierre Garcon and the Offense
Dianna Russini of NBC 4 in Washington tweeted some interesting quotes from Pierre Garcon following the game.
Garcon: "we called the same plays we did the same things. we just helped Kirk a little bit today...same offense..it was nothing different"— Dianna Marie Russini (@NBCdianna) December 15, 2013
Interpret that as you'd like.
The Good: From an offensive perspective, the good was keeping the offense the same for Kirk Cousins. From a defensive perspective, the good was getting pressure on Matt Ryan.
The Bad: The clock management just before halftime was beyond atrocious, because waiting 11 seconds to call a timeout when you’re trying to log points is utterly ridiculous.
The Questionable: Some will call Mike Shanahan’s decision to go for two with 18 seconds left in the game a folly, because the Redskins could use a win and Washington would seemingly have control if the game were to head to overtime.
Meanwhile, others will argue the Redskins were 3-10 and they had committed seven turnovers already, making that two-point conversion attempt at the end of the game their best chance to win.