The Washington Post

Week 15: Redskins at Browns



RGIII: Team “protecting me from myself”

Talking about the Redskins’ decision not to play him today, Robert Griffin III sounded a little like Stephen Strasburg after the Nationals shut him down. He wasn’t, he admitted, happy, although he realized that the team was “protecting me from myself.”

Griffin was told Saturday night that Kirk Cousins would start. In fact, he tweeted about it:

“Players play, so I was not happy with the decision, but at the end of the day that’s the decision they went with. I respect that, but that doesn’t mean I have to necessarily like it.”

Could he have played?

“I felt like I could have.”

What about next week? “I feel like I could play this week, next week, the week after that. But that’s not my decision, once again.”

Griffin said was “upset” but respected the decision.

“I understand what their viewpoint was. But I think all players know we’re brought here to perform, to help our team win and that’s what I’m here to do. I wanted to play and they decided I didn’t need to play and it worked out great for us.”

Griffin was put in the position of helping coach Cousins.

“I just talked to him about being cool, calm and collected and just not to freak out. The first half, collectively for our offense, we just couldn’t find a rhythm. But we came out in the second half and put up a lot of points. That’s what it takes. Everything’s not going to be perfect. He did a good job staying poised and staying confident in there.”


Montgomery, Polumbus injury updates

The Redskins suffered a couple of injuries along the offensive line, with Will Montgomery and Tyler Polumbus coming out of the game.

Montgomery, Mike Shanahan said, “has a strained MCL [medial collateral ligament]. We’ll see how that is. I’m hoping it’s not very serious. Polumbus, the other person who didn’t play in the second half, had a concussion. We’ll evaluate him with the concussion rules.”

Montgomery is headed for an MRI. Shanahan declined to say exactly what the difference is between a sprain and a strain. In fact, he kind of joked about it, although it was hard to tell.

Shanahan: RGIII wasn’t “ready” to play

Mike Shanahan went straight to the heart of the matter — the condition of injured quarterback Robert Griffin III — as he spoke with reporters after the Redskins’ victory.

“Robert wanted to play. He felt he was ready. He did not want to let his teammates down, which is typical of the players. You’ve got London Fletcher playing when he’s hurt and Trent Williams playing when he’s hurt. He tried to show us everything that he could possibly do to get himself ready to play in this football game. I was so impressed with how he worked. But at the end of the day, the doctors did not feel that he was ready. That LCL [lateral cruciate ligament sprain] was just not in position for him to play a live game, so that’s the reason why we kept him out.”

Shanahan wouldn’t say how close RGIII was to playing, reiterating that “two of the top doctors in the country” said he wasn’t ready. 

“I was impressed by how hard he worked. I liked what I saw. We’ll be evaluating him day-by-day for next week. He had rehab today, worked extremely hard this morning for a few hours. The doctors have been very impressed by how it’s come along, but I can’t tell you anything until the doctors clear him.”

Last night, Kirk Cousins was given the news that he’d start. In RGIII’s place, Cousins bounced back from a rocky start (four straight punts) and passed for over 300 yards.

“It shows you what the guy’s all about,” Shanahan said. “He kept his composure. Boy, that one throw [the interception] I thought there was a little shoving right there. I thought he made the correct read, but those things are going to happen sometimes. You’ve got to keep your composure. You’ve got to fight through. I thought we did that as a football team. We didn’t play one of our better halves in the first half, like we haven’t over the last four or five games. There are going to be some good halves and some bad halves but at the end of the day, you’ve got to step up and get it done when it counts.”

At 3-6 or 8-6, Shanahan’s demeanor is the same. The Redskins are tied with the Giants atop the NFC East (and hold the tiebreaker) and are a half-game ahead of the Cowboys, whom they play Dec. 30. Next week, the Redskins play the Eagles.

“The main thing is we control our own destiny and we know that. Any time you can control your own destiny with two weeks left, that’s all you can ask your football team to do. We’ve worked extremely hard to get to this point and we know the job’s not one. All our focus will be on Philly.”

Redskins win, control NFC East

The Washington Redskins beat the Cleveland Browns, 38-21, to move into a first-place tie in the NFC East after the New York Giants lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 34-0. Based on tiebreakers, the Redskins will win the division if they beat the Eagles and Cowboys to close the season.

Montgomery out, Lichtensteiger over

With center Will Montgomery questionable to return because of a left knee injury, Kory Lichtenteiger slides over to play the spot.

Mandi Lichtensteiger, who chronicles these things, points out on Twitter that it’s “been since college.”

Alfred Morris scores again

After Santana Moss fumbled but was saved by Pierre Garcon’s recovery, Alfred Morris scores on an eight-yard run to give the Redskins a 38-21 lead with 5:05 left in regulation. It was the second touchdown for Morris.

Browns cut margin to 31-21

Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden’s 69-yard touchdown pass gets Browns withing 31-21 in fourth quarter. (Associated Press)

Moments after the Redskins appeared to grab a commanding lead, the Browns got a 69-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Weeden to wide receiver Travis Benjamin, who beat D.J. Johnson badly down the right side, to trim the deficit to 31-21.

Playoff snapshot

The Redskins are getting what they need so far. 

While the New York Giants are getting crushed 34-0 by the Falcons in Atlanta, there’s a bit of a battle in Chicago, where the Green Bay Packers lead the Bears 21-13. 

The Dallas Cowboys play the Pittsburgh Steelers at 4:25.

Redskins take 31-14 lead

Evan Royster’s four-yard touchdown run with 11:23 left in the third quarter gives the Redskins a 31-14 lead. It was the second touchdown for the Redskins following an interception of Browns rookie  QB Brandon Weeden.

Third-quarter takeaway: Defense steps up to ease pressure on offense

Leonard Hankerson helps Redskins built 24-14 lead over Browns. (Associated Press)

As they prepared for the possibility of playing without Robert Griffin III, the Redskins’ defensive players said that it was on them to step up and help shoulder the load and make things easier on the offense by forcing turnovers.

On the second play of the third quarter, the defense did just that. Rob Jackson intercepted a Brandon Weeden pass and returned it to the Browns 15-yard line, and three plays later, Alfred Morris ran for his eighth touchdown of the season – tying the franchise record for rushing TDs by a rookie.

And the defense remained stout and forced Cleveland to punt again.

While the Browns appear to be regressing with shaky passes from Weeden and minimal gains by Trent Richardson, Washington’s offense appears to be getting stronger.

Kirk Cousins on the following drive was 4-for-4 for 41 yards and a touchdown – a 2-yard toss to Leonard Hankerson – the first multi-touchdown game of his career.

Then, the defense came through again, late in the third quarter when London Fletcher recorded an interception – his second in as many games. It was the Redskins’ sixth multi-interception game of the season (the most they’ve had since 2007).

Tyler Polumbus out with concussion

Right tackle Tyler Polumbus left the game with a concussion, the Redskins announced early in the second half. Polumbus appeared to be injured during one of the team’s first-quarter possessions. He didn’t leave the game, however.

After halftime, Polumbus wasn’t on the field or sideline, and Jordan Black was in his place at right tackle.

Shortly after, the team announced Polumbus’ injury and that he wouldn’t return.

It’s the first time this season that one of Washington’s offensive linemen have suffered a concussion.

Polumbus has started every game at right tackle. Black had seen time at left tackle in Week 3 when Trent Williams injured his knee, but since then, hadn’t played outside of special teams.

Pierre Garcon and spinning the ball

This from our Mike Jones on Pierre Garcon spinning the football:

QB controversy, shmontroversy

At the moment, at least one of the “NFL AM” guys is reasonable…

Giants are down, 27-0

Kirk Cousins tosses second touchdown

The Redskins get a second touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Leonard Hankerson for a 24-14 lead with 7:40 left in the third quarter. Cousins executed a play-action fake to Evan Royster and threw to a wide-open Hankerson for the two-yard score.

The Redskins’ turnaround: One measure

It isn’t just RGIII…and Alfred Morris…and an improved offensive line.

Alfred Morris gives Redskins lead, 17-14

Rookie running back Alfred Morris scores on a three-yard carry to provide the Redskins a 17-14 lead early in the third quarter. Morris’s touchdown comes three plays after linebacker Rob Jackson came down with an interception to give Washington excellent field position.

Rob Jackson comes down with interception

Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson intercepts Brandon Weeden on the first series of the second half. Washington has the ball on the Browns 15.

Second quarter takeaway: Play-action works briefly, but Browns take lead on long drive

The Redskins’ offense managed to move the ball at a better rate early in the second quarter after finishing the first quarter off on a positive note. In the second quarter, they outgained the Browns 98-89.

The play-action game set up the Redskins for success. The Browns are biting hard on any fake handoff to Alfred Morris. And that has set up Cousins to make plays under less pressure. In the second quarter, he completed nine of 12 passes for 98 yards. But the Redskins managed only three points in the second quarter, and trail 14-10 after yielding a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped by Trent Richardson’s second touchdown of the game.

Trent Richardson scores again

Josh Browns, Browns teammates take a 14-10 lead over the Redskins just before halftime. (Associated Press)

After being ruled down by replay on what initially was called a three-yard scoring run, Browns rookie RB Trent Richardson reaches the end zone easily from one yard to give Cleveland a 14-10 lead.


Joshua Cribbs breaks loose

Lining up in the Wildcat formation, District native Joshua Cribbs received the snap and escaped a tackle at the line scrimmage by cornerback D.J. Johnson for a 16-yard gain to the Redskins 7 at the two-minute warning.

Kai Forbath gives Redskins 10-7 lead

Kai Forbath’s makes a 44-yard field goal to give the Redskins a 10-7 lead with 5:50 left until halftime. It’s the 15th straight field goal for the rookie place kicker.

Mike Martz compares Cousins to Bradshaw

Fox color analyst Mike Martz compared Kirk Cousins to Terry Bradshaw, saying both can come back from poor series to play well. A bit premature don’t you think?


Too much indecision for Richard Crawford

On that last punt return, Richard Crawford tried one too many fakes, then got tackled almost immediately. Wasn’t that why Brandon Banks was left behind?

Weeden? Cousins? Whatevs.

And…Mike Martz just called the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins “Brandon Weeden.”

A note about Mr. Weeden:

After ugly start, Cousins puts Redskins on the board

The first quarter ended with the score tied 7-7 despite a shaky start for the Kirk Cousins-led Redskins.

Asked about the opportunity to make his first NFL start earlier this week, Cousins said he was excited, but added that “It’s more time to screw up,” and on only the Redskins’ second possession of the game, Cousins threw an interception that led to Cleveland’s first touchdown.

Cousins had thrown incompletions on his first two attempts (one on the first possession, and the second on the next series). On his third pass, Cousins forced a throw to Pierre Garcon, who was in triple coverage. The rookie quarterback locked in on Garcon, and the defensive backs read his pass perfectly. Sheldon Brown got inside position on Garcon, and he nearly picked off the pass, but instead deflected it into the hands of safety T.J. Ward, who returned the pass 32 yards to the Washington 6. On the next play, Trent Richardson powered his way into the end zone for his 10th touchdown of the year.

The next offensive series ended with another punt. On that possession, the offensive line didn’t do much to help protect the rookie. On third-and-6, Tyler Polumbus got abused by defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who sacked Cousins for a nine-yard loss.

All season long the Redskins’ line has struggled in drop-back passing situations. But the thing that has helped masked their deficiencies is the mobility and quick reactions of Robert Griffin III. Cousins wasn’t able to get rid of the ball and got planted into the grass.

The Redskins’ first four possessions didn’t yield a single first down. Those series looked like this: three plays, five yards; three plays, 0 yards; three plays -5 yards; three plays, 2 yards.

The fifth possession finally yielded positive results.

Cousins faked to Alfred Morris on the stretch play to the left, rolled back to his right and threw downfield to Leonard Hankerson, who had gotten behind three defenders, made a juggling catch before he hit the ground, and then rolled up and trotted into the end zone to tie the score with 2:16 left.

That play demonstrated why it’s important for Morris to remain productive. Even though he had only five carries for 12 yards at that point, the Browns had to respect him, and bit hard on the run fake, which freed up Cousins to make the throw without any pressure bearing down on him.

About that TD pass…

Beautiful throw from Kirk Cousins

Quarterback Kirk Cousins finally makes a play, putting the ball right on hands of wide receiver Leonard Hankerson for a 54-yard touchdown reception with 2:16 left in the first quarter to tie it a 7.

Rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins completes a 54-yard touchdown pass late in first quarter to tie game. (Associated Press)

Perhaps that throw will give Cousins more confidence.

Redskins offense melting down

The Redskins have four possessions with no first downs and seven total yards. Could be a long day while Robert Griffin III heals.

Another poor Redskins series

The Browns are forcing the Redskins into third and long, and quarterback Kirk Cousins isn’t able to make the throws amid a heavy pass rush that has no regard for the rookie being able to scramble for yards. A lot different rushing Cousins than Robert Griffin III.

Trent Richardson gives Browns lead, 7-0

Rookie running back Trent Richardson (33) scores from six yards to give Browns 7-0 lead over Redskins. (Associated Press)

One play following Kirk Cousins’s interception, Browns rookie RB Trent Richardson scores on a six-yard run by moving the pile into the end zone. Richardson breaks the Browns single-season rookie record for rushing touchdowns held by Jim Brown.

Kirk Cousins forces throw that’s intercepted

Kirk Cousins tries to force a throw to Pierre Garcon, but the wide receiver was covered, and the ball was tipped and intercepted. The Browns returned it to the 6.

Sean Kerrigan???

I look forward to learning more about this Sean Kerrigan who is playing for the Redskins, according to the Fox guy whose name shall not be mentioned. 

Winning on first down may make difference

The Cleveland Browns are going to try to force Kirk Cousins to beat them, so for the Redskins, that means winning on first down and keeping the rookie quarterback out of third-and-long situations. That throw on third and five in the first series wasn’t good.

Time to load up on Alfred Morris

With quarterback Kirk Cousins making his first start, expect fellow rookie Alfred Morris to get plenty of work, perhaps even 30-plus touches. If the Redskins can get the running game going, play-action should work to Pierre Garcon, assuming Cousins can make accurate throws.

Balmy temperatures in Cleveland

It’s 59 degrees in Cleveland. If you’re going to be in Cleveland in December, you couldn’t ask for better weather for the first NFL start for rookie backup quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Kirk Cousins gets the nod at quarterback today. (Associated Press)

Redskins-Browns announcing team

Ron Pits and Mike Martz are your announcers for today’s game between the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns. Martz just called the Redskins’ offensive line outstanding.

Fantasy focus: Redskins at Browns

With Robert Griffin III on the bench with a sprained knee, Kirk Cousins gets the nod at quarterback, meaning owners who are thinking about starting Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss, Josh Morgan or any Redskins wide receiver should look for other options unless completely desperate. Alfred Morris remains a high-end RB1, but the Cleveland Browns will focus on stopping the rookie sensation and forcing Cousins to beat them, so temper expectations. The Browns, meantime, may give Montario Hardesty some touches at running back, but Trent Richardson owners shouldn’t be too concerned. The No. 3 overall pick still will get enough touches to make him a low-end RB1. WR Josh Gordon is a sneaky play here against the No. 31 pass defense.

The Kirk Cousins fan club

They’re out in full force in Cleveland.


Good move to rest Robert Griffin III?

The Redskins confirmed last night that Kirk Cousins will start in place of ailing Robert Griffin III. Cousins’ first NFL start comes on the heels of a four-game winning streak that has the team in the thick of the playoff chase and in the mix for a division title too. What are your thoughts on the Redskins’ decision?

Week 15: Redskins at Browns

Welcome to The Post’s Redskins live blog where we’ll continue to track this afternoon’s game against the Cleveland Browns. Starting in place of ailing Robert Griffin III, who has a sprained knee from last week’s 31-28 overtime win against the Baltimore Ravens, Redskins fellow rookie QB Kirk Cousins has 146 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Browns have a pair of rushing touchdowns by rookie running back Trent Richardson. Boxscore

More reading material: Kirk Cousins to start | Leonard Hankerson seeks consistency | London Fletcher’s homecoming |



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Mark Maske · December 16, 2012