Kirk Cousins’ late TD pass lifts Redskins past Eagles 23-20
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- First, Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden picked Kirk Cousins over Robert Griffin III as his starting quarterback. Then, Gruden stuck with Cousins despite a pair of two-interception games in the first three weeks, repeatedly saying he had confidence in his QB.
That faith and patience paid off in this game.
Cousins turned in a turnover-free performance, ran for a touchdown for the first time in his NFL career, and then calmly and coolly directed a 90-yard drive that culminated with a 4-yard TD pass to Pierre Garcon with 26 seconds left to lift the Redskins past the Philadelphia Eagles, 23-20 on Sunday.
"He's managing the football game. He's putting us in a position to win in the fourth quarter," Gruden said, "and we finally did that."
Cousins still has more interceptions (23) than touchdown passes (22) as a pro. And he has more than twice as many losses as victories as a starter, going 4-9.
But he now has a signature win, and Washington is 2-2 - tied for first place in the mediocre NFC East with the Cowboys and Giants - while Philadelphia is last at 1-3.
"From where I sit, it's taken time. It's taken time for me to learn, for me to fail, for me to make a mistake in practice or in a game. ... Today was encouraging," said Cousins, a fourth-round draft pick in 2012, the same year Griffin was taken No. 2 overall. "It felt like we took a step forward."
And his teammates liked what they saw from Cousins down the stretch.
He went 31 for 46 for 290 yards overall, and was 6 for 10 for 44 yards on the last drive.
"He was Kirk. Nothing changed about him. He didn't waver. He wasn't a ball of nerves," Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams said. "It actually felt like practice. We were so comfortable inside the huddle."
Here are other things to know about Sunday's game:
DISAPPOINTED DEMARCO: Take away his season-best 30-yard run, and Eagles running back DeMarco Murray gained 6 yards on seven carries. Even with that long one included, Murray is at 47 yards on 29 carries in his three games since signing with Philadelphia as a free agent (he was hurt in Week 3). And not surprisingly, Murray is not all that thrilled with those numbers. Asked if he's getting the ball enough, Murray replied: "No, I'm not. I don't think I am. But it's how the plays are being called. I love this offense, I love playing with these guys. It's just how it is."
STICK TO RUNNING: The Redskins want to be a running team, and even though the Eagles shut that down much of the game, Gruden kept the ball on the ground for a chunk of the key drive, with five runs for 41 yards. "(To) have that balance goes a long ways," Cousins said.
GREAT GARCON: Despite playing on what the Redskins said was a sprained knee, Garcon was terrific down the stretch, on the receiving end of Cousins' last three completions for 32 yards, including the go-ahead points. In all, he had seven catches for 55 yards. On the last-minute TD, the Eagles sent a blitz at Cousins, but he put the football in a tight window, and Garcon did the rest. "I felt hits from all over, from everybody," Garcon said. "I looked and I was glad I was on the other side of the (goal) line, instead of, you know, a yard short."
SACK EXCHANGE: Entering the game, the Redskins' defense had four sacks all season, and Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford had been sacked twice. But Washington wound up with five sacks. "They couldn't block us," said Redskins defensive end Chris Baker, who had two sacks.
BAD KICKING: In what turned out to be a three-point loss, the Eagles left what should have been four easy points on the table, thanks to new kicker Caleb Sturgis' missed 33-yard field goal and missed extra point. Sturgis was signed last week to replace the injured Cody Parkey. "It's tough," Sturgis said, "knowing I didn't do my part."
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