Kirk Cousins, left, gives chase as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returns a pass thrown by Cousins for a touchdown. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins made his first appearance of the season last Sunday at Denver in the Washington Redskins’ loss to the Broncos. Things already were unraveling for the Redskins when Cousins took over, after starter Robert Griffin III hurt his left knee. But Cousins failed to improve the situation, throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for the final points in Denver’s 45-21 triumph.

“Any time you throw an interception, you’re not gonna like your performance,” Cousins said Wednesday. “I thought I did some good things but a critical error always overshadows any good things you can do. You want to avoid those errors. It is tough … a two-minute situation, going in there. You’re trying to be aggressive. You’re trying to move the ball quickly and you’re not running the ball. Defenses are pinning their ears back and playing pass. So all that considered, I did some good things. But obviously you have to eliminate critical errors.”

Cousins completed 5 of 9 passes for 48 yards in Sunday’s relief outing. He threw a second interception on a tipped pass. But Cousins said he isn’t making any excuses based on the circumstances under which he entered the game.

“It’s what I signed up for,” he said. “That’s the job that I have to do. I have to be ready at a moment’s notice. I try to stay warm on the sideline the best I can. I mentally try to stay into it the best I can. The coaches have explained to me that there’s no expectation that the standard of performance would drop when I go in. And I don’t expect that of myself, either. And while that’s a lot to ask, that’s certainly the expectation. I always go in there expecting to meet their expectations.”

Cousins’s day also included absorbing a heavy hit by Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard. Cousins said he emerged unharmed.

“It all happened so fast,” he said. “I feel like I’ve taken hits like that before. When I got up, I didn’t think anything of it. I patted him on the helmet and said, ‘Good hit,’ and just kept going. Then I saw after the game I had a lot of texts from people not saying anything about the interception, not saying anything about the loss. All they said was, ‘Boy, that was quite a hit.’ And I thought, ‘Man, it must have looked worse than it was.’ I didn’t have any repercussions from it. But it did look pretty bad once I saw it.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.

What’s ahead:

● The Redskins resumed practice at 1 p.m., preparing for Sunday’s home game against the San Diego Chargers. Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III meet with reporters afterward.

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