The takeaway from this one is that the offensive line protected Kirk Cousins, the defense performed better and the special teams continued to be anything but special. And, oh, those turnovers. So. Many. Turnovers.
Still, the Redskins had a chance. They gambled and went for the win (“I love that,” Ryan Kerrigan said via CSN Washington) — but the result was another dismal loss. They’re 3-11 now heading into the next-to-last game of the season, the last home game of the season, Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. As he was today, Robert Griffin III will be a sideline spectator.
After losing their sixth straight game, the Redskins must win one of their final two games to avert a 3-13 finish — they haven’t gone 3-13 since Norv Turner’s first season in 1994.
We’ll be back here at 11 a.m. to chronicle the game against the Cowboys. Thanks for joining us.
The nattily attired (suit and tie) Kirk Cousins addressed his ups and downs in the 27-26 loss.
“Didn’t do enough to win. Two interceptions that were on me. A fumble that you don’t want to have. The two-point conversion, the failed attempt there, I felt like that was on me. Those are four plays right that there that, if they go differently, it’s a much better result. So it’s a tough one to swallow right now, but we will learn from it and get better. I thought our defense did an outstanding job of giving us a chance and continuing to bail us out. I thought it was a very well-called game by Kyle and by Mike. I loved the call to go for two [which would have given the team a 28-27 lead with seconds left] at the end there. I felt like we had the on the ropes. I — we — just didn’t do enough to execute, but it starts right here with me.”
On the conversion attempt:
“When we go back and watch the film, we’ll see, but my initial reaction is that I had both Josh Morgan open on an off-schedule play and if I’d set my feet I may have been able to drill it in to Pierre [Garcon in the end zone], so that’s a play that I clearly didn’t have a good enough feel for and I need to go back and get better at it. I would like I had a chance there.”
On his inexperience:
“I’m in my second year, this is my second career start. Hopefully I can make it to year 6, 7, 8 but come talk to me then and I think it would have been a different result today had I been that experienced.”
On his statistically solid performance (minus the interceptions):
“Numbers at the end of the day really don’t mean that much to me. Playing in the Big Ten at Michigan State, it wasn’t about numbers, it was about winning, it was about getting a championship. It’s the same thing here; it’s about winning. I felt like I was given the chance today to have success. I’m only as good as the guys around me. I don’t believe we gave up a sack today. I believe Kyle called an outstanding game, continued to give me a chance to have success. There were just a couple plays — two, three, four times in the game — where I made a mistake and it cost us.”
On the four-way sideline conversations involving Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kyle Shanahan and him:
“It was only my second start, so I’m going to take all the help I can get. I’ve said it to Rex from Day 1. He said to me on the way into the game, starting the game, ‘Do you want to be left alone or do you want me to be in your ear?’ and I said, ‘I’ll take anything you can give me.’ And the same for Robert and, obviously, for Kyle. Any time I’m on the sidelines, I want to gain as much from them as I can and Robert and Rex and specifically Robert have been there before and Robert in this offense quite a bit. So I want to learn from them and gain what I can.”
On how RGIII helped him:
“Nothing specific, nothing earth-shattering. Just his positive attitude, his willingness to support me, to be there for me. He was the first one to celebrate after we scored and I would expect nothing less from him.”
And, on his pregame jitters:
“I’m nervous before every game because I care, because it matters to me. Before the game, some people were telling me to stay calm, to not get to worked up, but at halftime, Rex said to me, ‘I think part of the reason you play so well is you are nervous, because you do care that much, because you are that locked in.’ So I’m always going to be nervous. I always get those butterflies. It’s just a matter of controlling them to have success.”
The Redskins lost 27-26, failing on a two-point conversation that most likely would have delivered a victory. Ordinarily, that might lend a little extra spice to he postgame press conference with Coach Mike Shanahan — not that it’s likely to need much after this week. With Robert Griffin III inactive, Kirk Cousins completed 29-of-45 passes for 381 yards and three touchdowns. That’s a fairly Grossmanesque performance — complete with two interceptions.
“I thought he did a good job. Any time you have seven turnovers, it’s hard to win. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game that’s close where you’ve had seven turnovers. You’ve got to eliminate those to have a chance to win.”
Chances are Shanahan’s preference will be to keep the talk today to football and the loss that dropped the team to 3-11.
“That’s the first time he’s played in a while,” he said of Cousins, “so it’s nice to see him go out there and play with a lot of confidence. I thought he kept his composure and came back there on that final drive, did a heck of a job leading us down the field. I’m just proud of the way he handled himself.”
Shanahan preferred to focus on the fact that the team could have won the game.
“They came back. We got down early and made a couple of mistakes and I thought our team fought like heck as I told them in the locker room. I don’t think I’ve been involved with a team that’s had seven turnovers and has got a chance to win it, so I’m very pleased with the effort that they showed, disappointed with some of the mistakes that we made and thought we had a chance to get that thing done at the end and we fell short.”
And…about that aaallll that other stuff:
“Just disappointed about the game. I’m [tired] of talking about the job. You want to talk about this game or Dallas or Giants, that’s great. Or our football team. I’d sure like to concentrate on that.”
After another question about football, another reporter attempted to ask about his situation with the team and the day’s fresh reports. With that, Shanahan was off the podium and out of the room.
Washington drops its sixth straight after scoring just six points in the second half and committing seven turnovers. Kirk Cousins finished with 381 passing yards (29 for 45) with three touchdowns, two interceptions and one lost fumble.
Kai Forbath’s onside kick attempt squirted around and bounced through the Atlanta front line, but the hosts wound up with possession after the wild scramble. They will kneel away in victory formation.
The Redskins bypassed a chance to tie with the extra point and went for two. Kirk Cousins rolled out against the Atlanta blitz and fired into the back of the end zone, but the pass was broken up by Desmond Trufant. Washington will attempt the onside kick with 18 seconds left, down 27-26. On the sidelines, RGIII looks sad.
Kirk Cousins rolled out to the left and hooked up with Santana Moss for a 3-yard touchdown that made it 27-26.
A delay of game penalty gave Washington first-and-goal from the 15-yard line, then Cousins found Robinson again over the middle for a 12-yard gain.
Kirk Cousins found Aldrick Robinson wide open over the middle for the big third-down conversion. Washington has officially reached Atlanta territory.
After the two-minute warning, Washington will have 3rd and 6 from its 44-yard line. Cousins just completed a short screen pass to Roy Helu for four yards. Both teams have all three timeouts remaining.
Matt Bryant hits a 51-yard field goal that gives Atlanta a 27-20 lead with 3:25 left in the game. The Falcons basically went nowhere after the Kirk Cousins interception — four plays, six yards — but had good enough field position to justify sending Bryant out for the attempt.
Just that kind of day.
According to FOX:
Falcons had 12 takeaways in 13 games coming into today’s. The Falcons have 7 takeaways against the Redskins today.
Nothing to add there.
Seven. Seven turnovers. Or takeaways, depending on your word choice. Either way, Kirk Cousins throws his second interception — third turnover overall today — and Atlanta gets the ball back. Desmond Trufant undercut Pierre Garcon and ripped the football away.
After the Alfred Morris fumble, the Redskins defense does its part, forcing a quick Atlanta punt after less than three minutes came off the clock. Now, with 5:45 left in the game, Washington gets possession, still trailing 24-20.
Alfred Morris for the second time today and Washington ruins a long possession that reached the Atlanta red zone. Cousins kept the drive alive with a third-down bootleg completion to Santana Moss, then found Pierre Garcon for another third-down conversion against the porous Falcons secondary. But then Morris had the football poked away by linebacker Stephen Nicholas for the team’s sixth turnover.
The team record is probably safe, but at this point who knows?
10. That's the Redskins' record for turnovers in a game.They've done it twice. In play today?
— Jason Reid (@JReidPost) December 15, 2013
Brian Orakpo notches another sack and has 10.5 on the season. As the fourth quarter ends, the second-half snoozefest continues with another punt from Atlanta and fifth total punt after intermission.
Nothing doing for Washington again. Cousins was heavily pressured this series, and completed a short pass to Logan Paulsen on third down for four yards. Falcons ball.
This half, Alfred Morris has two carries for six yards and Cousins is 3 for 8 for seven yards.
A 15-yard clipping penalty stuffed Atlanta’s drive before it really began. Chris Baker hit Matt Ryan as he threw on third down, but despite the completion to Roddy White, the Falcons punted. Santana Moss called for the fair catch, hauls it in this time, so now it’s Washington ball on its 15-yard line.
The third-down jailbreak screen to Santana Moss loses three yards on strong coverage from the Falcons defense, so Washington punts away. Somehow, that was only Sav Rocca’s second punt of the afternoon. Atlanta gains zero yards on the return, takes over on its 23-yard line.
Steven Jackson rumbles into the end zone on first down from 2 yards out after the Kirk Cousins interception. Atlanta regains the lead, 24-20. The Redskins defense probably wasn’t going to make another goal-line stand.
Could see that one coming. Defense had to be deflated.
— Jason Reid (@JReidPost) December 15, 2013
That’s a deflating play. You come up with a big goal-line stand, your offense comes out and turns the ball right back over.
— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) December 15, 2013
That was short-lived. Kirk Cousins dropped back in play action on first down and threw an interception to William Moore. Washington’s fifth turnover negates the big fourth-down stop, so the Falcons have first and goal from the 2-yard line.
Huge moment for the Washington defense, which stopped Steven Jackson on fourth-and-goal from about the 1-inch line. Linebacker Perry Riley Jr. broke through and popped Jackson back, while his teammates helped clean up on the second effort. Kirk Cousins will be backed into his own end zone, but the Redskins maintain the lead.
After Tony Gonzalez brought Atlanta to the Washington 8, Steven Jackson rushed for two yards, then dropped a swing pass from Matt Ryan. On third down, Tony Gonzalez caught a comebacker inside the 5-yard line, then reached for the end zone but was ruled short. An encroachment penalty moved it half the distance, which realistically was about two inches.
Steven Jackson gets flagged for a face mask penalty, then London Fletcher commits a pass interference penalty, so the second half is off to a rollicking start. Matt Ryan made a nice play on third down, evading the pressure and lofting a pass to Tony Gonzalez, who shook some tacklers and reached the Washington 8. Nose tackle Chris Baker is also down.
On that last catch, Tony Gonzalez surpassed 15,000 receiving yards, joining only Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens, Isaac Bruce and Randy Moss.
— Zac Boyer (@ZacBoyer) December 15, 2013
Corey Peters tips Kirk Cousins’ third-down pass at the line of scrimmage so Washington punts after a three-and-out on the second half’s opening drive.
A debate begun in our comments section has spread to Twitter. Here are some of your thoughts…
From the commenters, some of whom do not have a marijuana leaf on their avatar, there’s at least a budding quarterback controversy:
Moe_wears_paperbag: “I’m not getting the RG3 vs. Cousins debate just yet as a win today matters more to me. With that being said, I’d like to see more of Cousins’ throwing and some other WRs.”
Svxcountry1: “I like what Kirk is doing but can e wait the full 3 games bf worrying about trades and next year.”
No punt intended: “Cousins sees multiple receivers.”
RiggoDrill1: “I’m glad he’s playing well, but can we hold off on anointing Cousins until after he’s played the Boys and Giants?”
Randy_Hawkins: “No. Cousins gives us real hope.”
fearturtle44: “Wow, we should be able to get a 1 for KC. Go Skins.”
tony325: “oh boy… you ready to trade Cousins for a first?”
KellyInBC: “I’m ready to trade RG3 for a first and a second. I’m on the Cousins train. RGIII has had all year to show he can do this.”
Kirk Cousins: 13 for 20, 248 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 fumble lost
Matt Ryan: 14 for 20, 108 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception
Alfred Morris: 11 carries, 75 yards, 1 fumble lost
Steven Jackson: 11 carries, 33 yards, 1 touchdown
Pierre Garcon: 4 catches, 98 yards, 1 touchdown
Tony Gonzalez: 4 catches, 45 yards, 1 touchdown
For the first time since Nov. 7 against the Minnesota Vikings, Washington enters halftime with a lead. Kai Forbath hit a 37-yard field goal with time expiring after Matt Ryan’s costly interception. After going down 14-0 and despite three turnovers, the Redskins now lead 20-17.
Great time for Jose Gumbs to snag his first career interception. Matt Ryan overshot Harry Douglas deep, over the middle of the field into double coverage, and Gumbs came over to make the play. Kirk Cousins and Washington get the ball with 35 seconds left in Atlanta territory.
Pierre Garcon turns a slant route into 27 yards, most of it after the catch. Washington down to the Atlanta 30-yard line.
Asked to provide captions for this photo…
Twitterverse delivered. Here are some of the best responses:
Backed into 1st and 20 after an offensive pass interference, the Falcons were forced to punt again. Strong tackles by Brian Orakpo and David Amerson brought up fourth down, so Washington takes over at its 32-yard line, with a chance to either tie or lead before the first half (4:36 left until intermission) winds to a close.
After Kirk Cousins committed a false start by backing away from the center before the snap, he atoned for the mistake by delivering a 53-yard strike to Pierre Garcon. Solid blitz pickup by the Redskins and Garcon beat his defender on an inside move. Illegal contact on the Falcons defense was declined — obviously — so now Washington is within three points, 17-14. Amid the hurricane of turnovers, Cousins is 9 for 12 for 199 yards and two touchdowns.
A drive passes without a turnover. Parade plans are in the works. Washington takes over near midfield after its defense forced a three-and-out.
Perfect play-to-turnover ratio over the past three plays for Washington and Atlanta. This time Santana Moss had it stripped after catching the 17-yard pass from Kirk Cousins. Flags everywhere for some post-play fighting, but Moss commits his second turnover of the afternoon and the Falcons take over. Ugliness in Atlanta.
This is hard to keep up with. Matt Ryan was sacked by Ryan Kerrigan and fumbled, so Brian Orakpo recovered, because of course this is how a game between two 3-10 teams is unfolding. An illegal shift penalty was declined so now it’s Washington ball.
So after Tom Compton replaces Trent Williams, he gets crushed off the snap and driven into Alfred Morris, causing the running back to lose the football. Washington squanders the big completion and Atlanta takes over.
Trent Williams came up limping after that big pass to Aldrick Robinson, so Tom Compton takes over.
This is rare.
Trent Wiliams went down at the end of that play. Tom Compton in for him at LT. First play Williams will have missed all season.
— Zac Boyer (@ZacBoyer) December 15, 2013
Tom Compton has been used here and there in goal line situations as an extra blocking tight end. First NFL left tackle snaps here.
— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) December 15, 2013
Kirk Cousins unleashes one deep on first down to Aldrick Robinson, who outsprinted two defenders and made the catch in stride. Wound up going for 62 yards.
A side note: Trent Williams came up limping and is being checked out.
DeAngelo Hall makes a nice play breaking up a third-down pass intended for tight end Levine Toilolo in the end zone, and the Redskins defense holds strong despite backed onto its 3-yard line following an 11-yard Steven Jackson run. But Jackson mustered just one yard on two carries and Hall swatted Matt Ryan’s pass down. A big stop for the Washington defense. Falcons up 17-7 now.
Santana Moss waved for the fair catch and tried to spin away from the bouncing football, but wound up stumbling into the punt. Atlanta recovers, again with tremendous field position. Looked like cornerback E.J. Biggers was blocked back into Moss.
Brian Orakpo brings down Matt Ryan on third down for a nine-yard sack and Washington forces a three-and-out.
Jacquizz Rodgers had a hole on the ensuing kickoff return, but Rob Jackson tripped him up with a shoestring tackle from behind. Rodgers had room and otherwise could have broken loose. Special teams plays being made this week, at least so far.
After the long 37-yard run by Alfred Morris, Cousins bootlegged and found tight end Fred Davis in the end zone for the 23-yard touchdown. Washington answers back, only down 14-7 now with less than a minute left in the first quarter. That drive went six plays for 80 yards, but 60 of those came on two plays. That’s the first touchdown catch of the season — and since 2011, for that matter — for Fred Davis.
Robert Griffin III, on the sidelines, took the football from Cousins, presumably for safe keeping.
GIF: Kirk Cousins' first passing touchdown of the season. http://t.co/vZxpCkEhLv
— BuzzFeed Sports (@BuzzFeedSports) December 15, 2013
Big run from Alfred Morris for 37 yards on 2nd and 1. Redskins have fullback Darrel Young back from a hamstring injury, so that’s probably helping matters too.
Falcons are third-worst in the league vs. the run. Alfred Morris rips off a 37-yard run.
— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) December 15, 2013
Gifted possession at the Washington 36, Atlanta needed three plays to go up 14-0, aided by an unnecessary roughness penalty on DeAngelo Hall for shoving Tony Gonzalez out of bounds. Gonzalez had the last laugh — and a layup over the crossbar — after he scored a 13-yard touchdown over the middle. Just like that, the Falcons are up two touchdowns.
Kirk Cousins withstood two big hits but couldn’t escape third-down pressure from the Falcons. Osi Umenyiora stripped him in the pocket and Jonathan Babineaux recovered. This came one play after Cousins got rocked by Sean Weatherspoon and barely got rid of the ball, and two plays after he completed a nice pass to Joshua Morgan with Joplo Bartu in his face. Falcons get the ball deep in Washington territory.
A bold idea, but not necessarily a bad one.
Kirk Cousins onto the field after a touchback. Washington assumes possession from the 20-yard line.
Well, that didn’t take long. Steven Jackson trucked over Josh Wilson for a 3-yard touchdown, capping off a 14-play, 83-yard drive to open the afternoon.
Atlanta kept the drive alive with three third-down conversions against a Redskins defense (34.6 percent allowed) ranked seventh in the NFL in third-down conversion rates. First, Matt Ryan found Darius Johnson on 3rd and 6. Then he threw a 19-yard strike to Roddy White over the middle on 3rd and 10, and again hooked up with White on 3rd and 3. A defensive holding penalty and an 8-yard run from Jackson helped move the chains into the Washington red zone, before the running back steamrolled into the end zone.
(EDIT: Now with GIF courtesy of the Big Lead)
Strasburg, the U.S. government, Robert Griffin III. Clever.
Falcons win the toss, elect to receive. Jacquizz Rodgers takes it from five yards deep, returns to the 17-yard line. Matt Ryan and company begin with the ball.
Fear not fretting Redskins.com shoppers. Here’s a simple solution to the problem currently presented by that authentic Griffin jersey you bought last year.
When you’re under fire as a coach, the criticism comes from all sides about every aspect of the way you work. After a week of what charitably can be called “drama” at Redskins Park, Mike Shanahan is finding out all about that, with questions now intensifying about whether the game has passed him by.
The latest shot comes from Bart Scott.
“[Robert Griffin III's] not playing well right now,” Scott said on “That Other Pregame Show” on CBS (via Chris Lingebach). “But c’mon man, Shanahan’s throwing him under the bus. We all know that he’s on his way out and he’s trying to blow it up and make his point before he’s out of there. Should I say, Shanahan is gonna join the likes of Brian Billick, Dennis Green, Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, Jim Fassel, Marty Schottenheimer and Wayne Fontes. Just like doing the players, and great players, people transition out of the league, I think he’s the next old guy that’s gonna transition out of the league and not have a job in the NFL anymore.
“I think he’s one of those aging dinosaurs that’s trying to learn, and can’t really deal with the new-age athlete, and I think that he’s on his way out. He’s gonna join those list of men, probably be talking on TV and he’s trying to buy his way out. He’s trying to get himself out.”
In Washington, Shanahan is 24-37 with one NFC East title.
This is what the Georgia Dome looks like today, less than a half hour before kickoff:
Remind you of anything…?
The name of former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher always surfaces every time there’s a Redskins coaching vacancy and, with Mike Shanahan’s tenure in deep trouble, it has again.
Cowher didn’t say whether he’d coach again, but did say on CBS’ “NFL Today” that what’s wrong with the Redskins “starts at the top. … There is a problem how that building functions.”
Now, any number of previous Redskins have coaches may have said virtually the same thing, only to have ego and the belief that he can be the one to have the culture triumph. As a result, Daniel Snyder has had eight head coaches.
Almost bought this coat at Nordstrom the other day. Almost…
Robert Griffin III, Jordan Reed headline Washington’s inactive list this week. Joining them: Bacarri Rambo, Chase Minnifield, Brandon Jenkins, Josh LeRibeus, Darryl Tapp.
A fellow might as well get his reps in, even if he isn’t going to play.
Because it wouldn’t be a gameday in D.C. without some national media outlet trying to shed light on the Redskins’ 2013 debacle, CBS Sports’ Jason LaCanfora published an article this morning that blames Kyle Shanahan — his youth, his inexperienced staff, and the relative autonomy granted him by his father — for the mess in Ashburn.
Nothing like some Sunday morning gossip. It’s been a pretty slow week in Redskins land, so I’m sure you’re as surprised as I am that the NFL media corps seems to have found plenty to talk about when it comes to the Redskins. Here’s what you need to know:
1. RGIII and Mike Shanahan are no longer speaking.
1a. Clearly not basing this assumption on inside information from the man himself, RGIII does not believe M. Shanahan will be coaching the Redskins next season.
2. Kyle Shanahan no longer wants to work for his father.
2a. Mike Shanahan has not discussed RGIII’s benching with any of his assistants this week.
3. Mike Shanahan will not resign.
3a.Redskins won’t try to fire Mike Shanahan.
3b. Redskins and Mike Shanahan will have to work things out.
4. This is all Kyle’s fault.
5. But the players think starting Cousins is okay.
This is the one without, you know, Roman numerals after his name.
On the NFL Network this morning, Michael Irvin, Kurt Warner and Warren Sapp had a lot to say about the decision to bench Robert Griffin III in favor of Kirk Cousins … until Rich Eisen cut them off to save them for the next segment.
Sapp wondered where the people are who have RGIII’s back; Warner pointed out that the last few weeks (as they were for Arizona in 2007) can be a springboard for the following season (when the Cardinals went to the Super Bowl). The best observation, though, came from Irvin, who said:
“The greatest thing that ever happened to us in Dallas — Troy [Aikman], Emmitt [Smith] and I all went through those rugged times together. We fought through them together. When we did get up, whenever we got the big head or wanted to look funny at each other, we’d all remember what we had to struggle through together. To. Geth. Er.”