Which NFL quarterbacks have rushed for the most touchdowns over, say, the past three seasons? There’s Cam Newton with 19, and then a tie for second — between Tyrod Taylor and Kirk Cousins. Washington’s QB has scored more often than Alex Smith or Jameis Winston, more often than Marcus Mariota or Aaron Rodgers. Kind of unexpected, right?
How about this one: Which Redskins backs have rushed for the most touchdowns over those same three seasons? That list starts with Cousins, obviously. The quarterback has 12 rushing scores, ahead of Rob Kelley with nine and Matt Jones with six.
One more: Which Redskins quarterbacks have rushed for the most touchdowns in franchise history? Joe Theismann is in first with 17. But Cousins, with 12, is now ahead of everyone else, including Sonny Jurgensen, who had 10, and Sammy Baugh, with nine. Theismann needed 124 starts to get those 17 scores. Cousins reached a dozen rushing touchdowns in just 50 starts.
Each of those lists kind of surprises me. Is this a skill or a product of circumstances? Because if it’s a skill, Cousins seems to have it.
The quarterback showed his goal-line expertise twice on Sunday, both on strange plays that required some officiating discussions. There was the one-yard run in the second quarter, on which Cousins bobbled the ball, lost his original momentum and then was pushed into the end zone as part of a massive pile of humans, with Larry Michael describing him as “just engulfed in manhood.” The moment was caught, above, by Ed Sheahin of Redskinshistorian.com. And the fumble was more disruptive than I realized live.
“When the quarterback sneak plays get called down there, you never quite know what they’re going to do from a front standpoint, or what the linebackers are going to do,” Cousins explained on 106.7 The Fan’s Grant and Danny program. “And so you kind of get up there and assess: Is this going to have a chance or not? And I actually felt really good about it. I felt like with the front they were playing, the depth of the linebackers, this would not be hard to get in. We were gonna get push, and I could get in there before the linebackers could meet me.
“But the challenge was, the center-quarterback exchange was just not clean,” Cousins went on. “And so as the ball came up, basically it was loose in my hands, or I fumbled it, if you will, and had to kind of re-grab it. And at that point, I had no push. I didn’t get down and drive my legs. And, so, fortunately we had so little to have to gain, and with the push that we got I was able to get in. But it probably wouldn’t have been as close if the exchange had been clean. I think we would have been able to just dive right in. It would have been pretty definitive.”
The second play was even wackier, when Cousins dove across the goal line on a short carry but then fumbled the ball. Officials never blew the play dead, and so the fumble was returned for a 100-yard touchdown, even though everyone basically assumed the Minnesota touchdown would be reversed owing to the Washington touchdown already having been scored. Sure enough.
“I was pretty confident I was in,” Cousins said on the radio show. “You know, the challenge for me is when you get that close to the goal line — you’re literally inches away — instinctively you want to reach. You want to put the ball out there. And yet when you do that you subject yourself to a possible fumble. And so that challenge of do I keep it in my gut knowing that it may be an inch short, or if I just reach my hand out we’re gonna score: that was my challenge.
“I reached it out, and then it became susceptible to the fumble,” Cousins said. “And my thing was, I didn’t know exactly when I reached it as to when it suddenly no longer was in my possession. But I felt like I had crossed the goal line, I felt like I was clearly in before it became loose. And I just walked right over to the ref and just said ‘I was in.’ … And fortunately we were in, but those are a little too close for comfort there.”
And yet, there was something familiar about Cousins barreling into the end zone there. He now has six rushing touchdowns of either one or two yards over the last three seasons. That’s 22nd of any NFL player in that span — and ahead of every quarterback other than Newton.
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