Redskins' Cousins nearly flawless in place of RG3

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

After interception, rookie drives Washington for five touchdowns

CLEVELAND -- Rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins talked to his father Saturday night and offered a prediction of the next day's events. By this point, Cousins knew officially that he would be starting for the Redskins and could share the information with anyone.

So he told his dad, "It's either going to be the highest of highs if we win or the lowest of lows, and there's not going to be much in between."

Consider this the highest of highs: Cousins completed 26 of 37 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns. His lone blemish was a first-quarter interception that led to a Cleveland touchdown. Other than that, Cousins was nearly flawless in the Redskins' 38-21 win over Cleveland on Sunday.

Cousins started because Robert Griffin III's sprained right knee wasn't ready, according to team doctors.

"Players play, so I was not happy with the decision, but at the end of the day, that's the decision they went with," Griffin said. "I respect that, but that doesn't mean that I necessarily have to like it. I feel like I could have [played]."

But the Redskins turned to Cousins instead. After missing on his first three passes, he got hot. The Redskins started using a lot more play-action passes and bootleg rollouts that killed a defense intent on stopping running back Alfred Morris (27 carries, 87 yards).

Cousins was a steadying force, even after his interception.

"He was calming us down in the huddle," Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon said. "We had a lot of emotion going. He was telling us to be calm and keep our poise and play well. He did a lot of great things and made the plays we needed."

One of the biggest was a 54-yard touchdown pass to receiver Leonard Hankerson off a bootleg. The Redskins had not even gained a first down on four series before that play.

"I could have run it for a good gain but just felt like it was a lot of space over the top," Cousins said. "There was no safety there to take it away and let it rip, and I trusted Hank to make me right, and Hank did that."

He also threw another touchdown pass to Hankerson off more misdirection. Cousins faked a handoff to the left, then threw back the other way to Hankerson, who ran behind the line and was wide open for a 2-yard touchdown.

"It shows you what the guy is all about," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said of Cousins.

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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