Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just Like It Was Drawn Up, Kirk Cousins Leads Redskins To Overtime Victory
LANDOVER, Md. – Facing a two-point conversion with 29 seconds remaining on Sunday, Robert Griffin III heard the play call, a quarterback draw, and approved.
The Washington Redskins’ rookie quarterback had plenty of faith in the decision. He scanned the defense and noticed Baltimore was anticipating a pass, lining up wide on the line of scrimmage. With all four receivers covered, the middle of the field was open.
“This is awesome,” Griffin thought.
It worked just like it was supposed to.
Kirk Cousins took the snap, dropped to the seven-yard line and ran behind lead blocker Evan Royster, crossing the goal line and bringing the FedEx Field crowd to its feet by tying the score.
Cousins then completed the comeback four minutes later, leading the Redskins to a 31-28 overtime victory over the Ravens with Griffin forced to watch from the locker room with a sprained right knee.
The victory keeps the Redskins (7-6) in playoff contention with three games remaining, but Griffin’s availability for them remains in doubt. Though a team spokesman said Sunday night an MRI on the Redskins’ starting quarterback showed no significant ligament damage, no determination has yet been made on whether Griffin will be able to play the rest of the season.
“Just the fact that we won the game makes everybody feel a lot better,” Griffin said.
The Redskins were trailing 28-20 with 1:56 remaining in the fourth quarter when Griffin, scrambling to his left, cut back toward the middle of the field. He gained 13 yards, stopping only when he was caught by Ravens defensive end Haloti Ngata and his right leg bent awkwardly underneath him.
Cousins, who last played Oct. 7 when Griffin sustained a concussion against Atlanta, entered for one play before Griffin returned. But Griffin lasted only four plays and was unable to put any weight on the right leg before leaving the game for good, leaving Cousins control of the game with Washington facing second-and-20 from the Ravens’ 26-yard line.
He completed a 15-yard pass to Leonard Hankerson and an 11-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon. Then, with two points still necessary to prolong the game, Cousins ran the play that Griffin worked to perfection earlier this season, taking the ball himself into the end zone.
“I wouldn’t say [I was] surprised, because that’s a play we feel confident running in the red zone near the goal line,” Cousins said. “I’m not as fast as Robert, so those blocks will have to be made for me to score. And they were.”
While the Ravens (9-4) began overtime on offense, Washington’s defense forced them to go three-and-out. Rookie Richard Crawford, replacing Brandon Banks, then returned a punt from Sam Koch 64 yards to Baltimore’s 24-yard line, immediately putting Kai Forbath in position to make a 34-yard, game-winning field goal.
“I was just trying to think about it like being out at practice every day, so I just tried to stay calm,” Forbath said. “Sav [Rocca, the punter and holder], said, ‘Make good contact with it, and we’ll knock it through.’”
The two teams, meeting for the first time since 2008, went back-and-forth in the first quarter, with Baltimore holding a 21-14 halftime advantage on two touchdown passes from Joe Flacco to Anquan Boldin.
Joshua Morgan caught a four-yard touchdown pass for Griffin for the first points of the game and Alfred Morris, who had 23 carries for 122 yards, ran one yard for the Redskins’ other first-half touchdown.
While Forbath made two field goals in the third quarter, the Ravens appeared to have the advantage when Ray Rice ran seven yards for a touchdown with 4:47 remaining.
Rice finished with 121 yards on 20 carries, including a 46-yard gain on his second try. Flacco went 16-for-21 for 182 yards for Baltimore, which had won its last 15 games immediately after a loss but fell last week to Pittsburgh.
Griffin, who finished 15-for-26 for 246 yards and the touchdown before leaving, remained upbeat about the injury. He tore the ACL in his right knee while at Baylor in 2009 and said the new injury felt nothing like that.
“I’ll still be able to run and do all those things if it’s just a really bad bruise,” Grifin said. “If it’s anything else, like I told [head coach Mike Shanahan], I’ll fight through it and I’ll be playing next week.”