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Kirk Cousins’ Redskins Debut Not Exactly What He Was Hoping For

By ZAC BOYER

zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

LANDOVER, Md. – It wasn’t the type of debut Kirk Cousins wanted, and it certainly didn’t come under the best of circumstances. Then again, they rarely do.

Cousins

Cousins completed five of his nine passes for 111 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, but threw interceptions on his final two attempts in the Washington Redskins’ 24-17 loss to Atlanta on Sunday.

The rookie quarterback entered the game midway through the third quarter in place of Robert Griffin III, who sustained a concussion while scrambling down the right sideline.

“It’s difficult, but you don’t sign up to play this game at this level not expecting it to be difficult,” Cousins said. “The bottom line is I didn’t get it done the way I wanted to today, but what I have to look at, the perspective I’m taking, is I’m gonna learn from it, get better, and I’m gonna pick up things that are invaluable going forward.”

Cousins, drafted in the fourth round after a record-setting career at Michigan State, hadn’t played at all in the Redskins’ first four games – nor did he expect to. Griffin, the No. 2 overall pick in April, is Washington’s starter and its franchise quarterback.

But Cousins earned the backup role over Rex Grossman, the starter for much of last season, with an impressive preseason performance. He completed just 57.5 percent of his passes, but he threw for 560 yards – a remarkable 7.67 yards an attempt – and three touchdowns mostly over two games.

His first pass attempt was a four-yard completion on an out route to Joshua Morgan, though the Redskins went three-and-out on that drive. On the next possession, Cousins found Santana Moss for the touchdown pass; the ball traveled roughly 26 yards in the air before Moss exploited a breakdown in coverage and darted up the middle of the field virtually untouched.

The throw gave the Redskins a 17-14 lead on Atlanta with 12:24 to play. The Falcons responded with a 53-yard field goal by Matt Bryant to tie the score at 17-17 with 7:42 remaining, then scored again when Michael Turner ran 13 yards for a touchdown with 2:46 left.

Cousins’ final two attempts to lead a comeback went against his best wishes. He failed to look cornerback Dunta Robinson off of tight end Fred Davis, and Robinson grabbed the pass just under two minutes remaining. The Redskins used their timeouts to get the ball back, but Cousins was intercepted again, this time by safety Thomas DeCoud, when he threw deep over the middle for Moss.

“It’s good experience,” head coach Mike Shanahan said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in Kirk, too, and we’ll see where it leads us.”

Cousins said taking the performance in perspective is the most important part of being a quarterback.

“You can never get too high, never get too low, and while we did score a touchdown there early, I wasn’t letting myself get too high,” Cousins said. “Again, after throwing two picks, I’m not gonna let myself get too low. I need to stay centered, and that’s the approach I’ve always taken and I’ll continue to do that.”

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