April 5, 2020

Washington Redskins Game 7: Kirk Cousins Silences His Critics

(AP Photo/Gary Hershorn)

(AP Photo/Gary Hershorn)

As he proudly marched to the interview room after engineering the Washington Redskins’ largest comeback win in team history, embattled fourth-year quarterback Kirk Cousins had just one question for the people that criticized him all week long.

“Do you like that?”

When the move was made at the end of preseason to start Cousins over Robert Griffin III, the initial reaction was that of content, or simply saying, “he’ll do.” Griffin III has remained the franchise’s most controversial player while Cousins played the role of lovable backup that nobody noticed until he screwed up, which he’s done far too often.

With each passing snap through the first six games of the season, Cousins’ bandwagon slowly lost passengers. Sure, he was good for one touchdown a game, but he threw two interceptions in four separate contests.

Against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4, Cousins provided us with his first “How do you like me now?” moment when he led a 15-play, 90-yard drive that ended in a game-winning touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon with 26-seconds left.

He followed that performance, however, with back-to-back games in which he threw two interceptions and posted quarterback ratings below 70.

And with that came the questions. The team had dropped to 2-4 and Cousins’ status as a legitimate option at quarterback was rapidly fading. Even worse, the media began to pick up on the fact that head coach Jay Gruden clearly favored the Michigan State product, providing him plenty of slack when answering questions about the quarterback in press conferences.

If there was ever a time for Cousins to put together a game that would stick it to his critics, this would be it. Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in town, and the last time the Redskins faced the franchise, they lost 27-7. Even more so, the game would be played on Homecoming Weekend, Washington’s annual reunion where players from the past converge on the city to celebrate the franchises’s storied past and support the present and future.

“I talked to our team last night about the alumni being here, and these guys paved the way for us being here, as athletes and as professional football players for the Washington Redskins,” Gruden said after the game. “We want to make them proud and show them that all the work that they put into this organization did not go for naught.”

Though the first third of the game, Gruden’s ball club wasn’t living up to those expectation. Halfway through the second quarter, they found themselves in a 24-0 hole following a Cousins fumble that was returned for a touchdown. The Buccaneers were in complete control and, in all honesty, it seemed like another Burgundy and Gold letdown.

On the ensuing Redskins possession, Cousins bounced back. The Spartan went 4 for 4 with 50 yards, capping the 74-yard drive off with an 8-yard touchdown run, his second of the season. As the teams broke for the half, the quarterback had regained his confidence and the Redskins had momentum.

“After that drive, I think there was belief in a sense from out play caller to our offense,” Cousins said afterwards. “We can move the ball on these guys, we just need to settle in and execute.”

Throughout the second half, Cousins and the offense continued to chip away at the Buccaneers’ lead. By the start of the fourth quarter, the Redskins were down just three with Tampa Bay threatening.

On consecutive drives in the fourth quarter, the Redskins and Buccaneers traded field goals. With 2:24 left on the clock, Cousins stood on his own 20-yard line with two timeouts in his pocket and needing a touchdown to tie the game; an extra point afterwards would obviously give them the lead.

“You don’t have to try and do too much,” Cousins said. “Just try and execute the plays that are called and get completions and next thing you know we were in the red zone and it felt like we got down there quickly.”

Three plays after entering the red zone, Cousins connected with tight end Jordan Reed for a 6-yard strike that completed his second fourth-quarter comeback of the season.

Cousins finished the day with a franchise record-tying 33 completions on 44 attempts with 317 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions and one rushing touchdown. It was just the sixth time since the 1970 merger that a Redskins quarterback recorded 300 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and zero interceptions in a single game.

Just as he was being written off as the Redskins’ starting quarterback, he put together a masterful performance that he’s shown the potential for in past games. He silenced his critics, or at the very least bought himself more time as the team’s starting quarterback.

At any rate, Cousins will be treated to two weeks of pure bliss with Washington now on their bye week. The media can write what they want, say what they want and tweet what they want. Despite what they may say about his future with the organization, his current status with the team seems to be in good standing.

Is Kirk Cousins the quarterback of the future for the Washington Redskins? That I am not sure. What I am sure of, however, is that we were given a true look at just what he is capable of and we should now expect that every week. If Sunday was any indication, the Redskins have the potential for an exciting second-half push.

About Brian Skinnell

Brian Skinnell is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Nationals and college football. He is a born-and-raised follower of Washington, D.C. sports, “The” Ohio State Buckeyes and auto racing. A graduate of Shepherd University in December of 2014, he has a degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies with a Concentration in Sports Communications. Prior to joining District Sports Page (for his second stint), he spent time with Rant Sports, Yahoo Sports and the Washington Redskins. For his day job, he is an Editor for Team Velocity Marketing. Follow him on Twitter @Brian_Skinnell.

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  1. […] Kirk Cousins put together the strongest performance of his career and silenced his critics for at least another two weeks. Granted, it came against a Tampa Bay team that is one of the worst […]

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