For the second consecutive week, a Redskins player made a boneheaded decision late in the fourth quarter of a close game. This time, that boneheaded decision begat a second boneheaded decision, but neither cost Washington a win.
After DeSean Jackson ran 20 yards backward and then fumbled a punt return in Monday’s 19-16 loss to the Cowboys, Comcast SportsNet’s Trevor Matich said it was the “most selfish play” he could remember.
After Sunday’s 24-21 win over the Bears, Matich and fellow CSN analyst Brian Mitchell were discussing Kirk Cousins’s ill-advised fourth-quarter throw into double coverage, which became a crazy footnote in the Redskins’ first road win of the season.
With four minutes remaining and the Redskins clinging to a three-point lead, Cousins rolled to his right on third and six from the Redskins’ 37-yard line and released a high-arcing pass toward Jordan Reed. The ball was deflected by Bears cornerback Sherrick McManis and Reed, and into the hands of Redskins running back Matt Jones, who fell to the ground. Jones, thinking he was touched down by contact, flipped the ball onto the turf, but managed to recover it after realizing the play was still live.
“He threw it off his back foot, down the middle of the field, where the guy’s covered,” Mitchell said of Cousins. “Now Jordan Reed was able to go up and tip it. They got a miracle play there. That’s a play that gets intercepted more times than not, or it’s going to be incomplete. Those are the flaws that he has to erase out of his repertoire, moving forward, to continue being the guy he’s shown us he can be this year.”
— Jake Russell (@_JakeRussell) December 13, 2015
“That was just an awful decision,” Matich said. “Third and six, on their own 37, about three minutes to go, they’re up by three points. So, it’s third down. Cousins throwing the ball, he’s rolling to his right and he lofts the ball up, just up across his body over to the middle of the field. Now, you would think that that’s as good as a punt. It’s not, because he didn’t throw the ball 45 yards down the field. He threw it probably about 25, 35 yards down the field, and that’s it. If that were an interception right there, if it weren’t tipped up by Jordan Reed, fall into the hands of Matt Jones — just sort of a miracle, like you said Brian — if that were picked off, then all of a sudden they have the ball at least around midfield, depending on how far they return it, and they’ve got momentum with three minutes to go to possibly kick the tying field goal or score the winning touchdown. As it turned out, big first down for the Redskins. But for Cousins, he really dodged one.”
Redskins Coach Jay Gruden would probably agree with that assessment.
“We had just a simple bootleg and then he scrambled around there and threw one up and I really didn’t draw it up like that, neither did [offensive coordinator] Sean [McVay],” Gruden said after the game. “It’s a play that Kirk made and Jordan made and Matt Jones made. One of those things where you’re like, please don’t do that, please don’t do that, and then it’s complete and, hey, great play. That happened a couple of times today. It’s a crazy game, man.”
Hey, just a great play in a crazy game. Let’s break it down and then never speak of it again.
Cousins takes the snap out of the shotgun, with three receivers — DeSean Jackson, Reed and Jamison Crowder — in a bunch formation to his right.
Bears rookie defensive lineman Eddie Goldman gets pressure up the middle and has a direct path to Cousins. Jones, who leaked out of the backfield, appears to be open for a swing pass (lower right), but there’s a defender lurking out of the picture.
Cousins spins to his left and rolls right as Goldman gives chase. With blockers Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses in front of him, Cousins looks downfield.
“I couldn’t see where the defender was and I wasn’t going to throw it blind, so I took off,” Cousins said. ” . . . It’s not perfect, but maybe it’s an opportunity to make a play. It’s living dangerously, and I don’t know that you want to do that all the time. You’re going to die by that more than you’re going to live by that.”
As Goldman and Jarvis Jenkins close in, Cousins releases the ball off his back foot. I mean, that’s a textbook back-foot throw.
Reed and his defender, McManis, track the flight of Cousins’s pass around the Chicago 45-yard line. Alan Ball and Jones also give chase.
Reed, McManis and Ball leap for the ball, which is deflected into Jones’s hands at the 45-yard line. Matich was right; Cousins’s “opportunity ball” only traveled about 30 yards in the air.
Jones can’t believe his good fortune as he sits up after securing an improbable 18-yard completion. Crowder runs over to help Jones up, and possibly ask him for lottery numbers.
Jones, who thought Crowder was a Bears player and therefore that he was down by contact, nonchalantly flips ball onto the turf. Everyone in the vicinity, including Jones, immediately recognizes the rookie’s mistake. The ball is live.
“I thought somebody touched my back, so I was ready to give it up,” Jones said. “I flicked the ball up, then I saw everybody trying to get the ball. I was like, ‘Oh shoot, let me grab the ball back real quick.’”
And then Crowder was like, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Reed, Crowder, McManis and Adrian Amos all dive for the ball, which somehow rolls back to Jones, who scoops it up and cradles it like a baby.
“That was good on me though grabbing the ball back and being aware of my surroundings,” Jones said. “It’s a bad part not knowing I wasn’t down.
Hey, no harm, no foul, except maybe for the heart health of fans, media members and players who watched one of the wildest plays in recent Redskins history unfold. The Redskins punted four plays later.
Most emotional roller coaster play I can recall.
— Patrick Cannon (@RubGun) December 13, 2015
— Burgundy Blog (@BurgundyBlog) December 13, 2015
Will never get over how ridiculously insane that "Cousins scramble, Hail Mary to Reed, tipped twice, caught by Jones then fumbled" play was.
— Barely In Bounds (@BarelyIn) December 13, 2015
AMAZING PLAY ON EVERY LEVEL
— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) December 13, 2015
Um, wow. Matt Jones catches a tipped pass off Jordan Reed, thought he was down and flipped the ball. Somehow it came back to him. #Redskins
— Master Tesfatsion (@MasterTes) December 13, 2015
Crazy play…maybe Jones thought Crowder who touched him on back was a Bear defender?? Who knows…Lucky, lucky.
— Chris Russell (@Russellmania621) December 13, 2015
Matt Jones……. What are you doing. That was the most #Redskins thing that has ever happened. I cannot believe that just happened.
— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) December 13, 2015
— Duke Ihenacho (@NachoLyfe) December 13, 2015