“I just told the guys, I looked them in the eyes and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to do my job, you do yours and we’re going to win this game.'” –Third-string QB Colt McCoy
Jay Gruden saw enough of Kirk Cousins’ latest effort and decided it was time for Colt McCoy to take the reins of the Washington Redskins offense.
McCoy relieved Cousins at halftime and threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon in his first attempt of the game, and Kai Forbath completed the comeback with a 22-yard field goal as time expired to lift Washington to its second win of the year, beating the Tennessee Titans 19-17 on Sunday at FedEx Field.
Cousins had a bad interception and fumble in the first half, prompting Gruden to make the switch at intermission.
“I just through Colt has earned the right to get an opportunity if Kirk struggled in the first half [and] turned the ball over,” Gruden explained. “That’s the basic reason. Had I not thought Colt would’ve been ready, I would’ve stuck with Kirk, but I just thought Colt was ready to go. I know he felt ready. He’s been chomping at the bit to play, but he’s always been a supportive backup. And this time, when his number was called, he produced.”
Life of a third-string quarterback in the NFL can be tough, but McCoy showed preparedness when called upon. “All I know is my responsibility on this team is to always be ready to play,” McCoy said. “I was just thankful for the opportunity and I just wanted to go out there and play to the best of my ability and lead my team – this team – to a victory and we were able to accomplish that.”
In a first half that shared the entertainment value of grass growing, the Redskins (2-5) turned the ball over on two of their six first half drives — Cousins fumbled with 5:20 to go in the first quarter and was intercepted by Wesley Woodyard with less than three minutes to go in the second.
A half-ending intentional grounding by Cousins sent the Redskins off the field to a mild chorus of boos — jeers that might have been greater in number and volume if those in attendance hadn’t grown so accustomed to that degree of ineptitude.
Two Forbath field goals were the Redskins’ first half tallies, while Kendall Wright’s touchdown catch from Charlie Whitehurst helped provide the Titans’ 10-6 advantage.
The long touchdown from McCoy to Garcon early in the second half sparked life into both the Redskins’ players and fans. Garcon stayed in bounds by only a couple of inches sprinting down the left sideline, gathering a short hook pattern, shaking a defender, then outracing two Titans defensive backs on the way to the end zone.
“That was a great play by Pierre and I would love to get him some more touches,” Gruden said. “He is a good receiver, tough guy after the catch. Just hasn’t happened for some reason. We have to do a better job of game planning and getting him some balls where he can get more involved in the game because he is really good after the catch.”
The play even surprised the man that threw the ball. “Yeah, I didn’t know Pierre [Garçon] was that fast, first of all,” McCoy said. “I told him that in the locker room, too. But Pierre is such a good, easy target to throw it to. He has great body control. I threw a little back shoulder hitch to him and he made the play to put us up, so hats off to him.”
Forbath kicked another field goal early in the fourth quarter to make it 16-10, but Derek Hagan made just his third catch of the season, for a touchdown, with 7:41 to play. Forbath’s game-winning kick came after a 10-play, 76-yard drive — including a key pass interference penalty drawn by wide-out Desean Jackson — that gave Gruden a chance to display his clock management skills, and Tennessee’s attempt to ice Forbath was unsuccessful.
Gruden liked how McCoy directed the two-minute offense to get into field goal range.
“Colt had some freedom to check out and we called something in the huddle for us. Overall, we were trying to get some looks that Colt would understand, plays that we want to get to, being very specific with him and he did a very good job.”
McCoy finished the day 11-for-12 with 128 yards and no interceptions.
Asked if he’d made any decisions about next week’s starter against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night football, Gruden replied, “No, not yet. No, but it’s a good sign the way that Colt finished the game, ran the offense – very smart and very efficient, did some good things.”