Kirk Cousins’s final numbers from Sunday’s game at Seattle were just okay. Playing behind a patchwork offensive line, the Redskins quarterback completed 21 of 31 passes for 247 yards, didn’t throw any touchdowns or interceptions, lost a fumble, took a safety and was sacked six times. He also led a 70-yard touchdown drive in the final 90 seconds with the game on the line, helping the Redskins to a season-saving win that ranks among the most improbable victories in franchise history.
It was the eighth fourth-quarter comeback of Cousins’s career and it came after Russell Wilson, Cousins’s counterpart in Seattle, seemed poised to bring his total number of fourth-quarter comebacks to an even 20. While Wilson, a Super Bowl champion, has earned the reputation as a clutch performer, there are many who doubt Cousins is, or ever will be, that type of player. During Cousins’s weekly appearance on 106.7 The Fan’s “Grant and Danny Show” on Monday, Grant Paulsen asked him about the narrative that he struggles under pressure, and whether he takes any pride in proving his doubters wrong with a late-game drive like the one he engineered Sunday.
“I had a former coach who said to me as I was kind of coming up in the league, he would say, ‘Kirk, people who know, know,’” said Cousins, who is still seeking his first playoff win. “What he meant by that was, if you understand quarterbacking, understand what it takes to play quarterback in this league, it really isn’t a debate about can you play, can you make the fourth-quarter plays, can you make the throws, can you bring us back, are you the guy. People who know, know. It’s the people who don’t know, and don’t get it, that I think have those conversations and have those debates. I’m not going to kind of waste my time or my energy worrying about people who don’t know football and what they’re saying. I do believe that people who know, know, and if a fourth-quarter drive like that to win the game helps some people who don’t get football to be able to come around, then so be it, but those aren’t the people I’m trying to win over at the end of the day.”
And just who was the former coach who offered that T-shirt worthy advice, Paulsen asked. Cousins laughed before answering.
“Well, Sean [McVay] used to tell me that as I was trying to make my way,” Cousins said. “He would say, you know, people are going to doubt, people are going to have their opinions, but the people who know, know, and you don’t really need to worry about anybody else. Just stay the course.”
McVay, who oversees the league’s highest-scoring offense as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, was Cousins’s strongest advocate in Washington when Cousins was still backing up Robert Griffin III in 2014. With McVay calling plays as Washington’s offensive coordinator, Cousins rewrote the Redskins’ single-season record book as the starting quarterback in 2015 and 2016. Halfway through this season, Cousins is on pace to throw one more touchdown pass and four fewer interceptions than he did last season. He’s done it without McVay and despite being sacked 22 times in eight games. Cousins was sacked 23 times all of last year.
Count Sports Illustrated’s Peter King among those who “know” after he watched Cousins lead the best drive of his career in Seattle.
“If there was ever a referendum in Washington on whether to keep Cousins, this was it,” King wrote in his MMQB column. “He passed. The team has to figure a way to get a contract done with the looming free agent, and if he can’t get signed, he needs to be retained even if under the costly franchise tag. Not many quarterbacks are winning the game Cousins won Sunday. He might occasionally drive you crazy, but winning is made exponentially harder when you don’t have one of those guys.”
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