Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for more than 300 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles, but the unit was inconsistent on a night the team fell short.
Against a team with the NFL's best record, the Washington Redskins struggled in many facets of Monday night's game. The Philadelphia Eagles, now 6-1 on the season, seemed to have the upper hand when it came to shutting down quarterback Kirk Cousins and the passing game, despite the impressive stats.
Washington's signal caller finished the night with a season-high 40 attempts, completing 30 of them for 303 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Cousins' counterpart, Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz, ended his game with 268 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.
"Well, initially, we lost and it wasn't good enough by anybody offensively, but Kirk competed and made some great throws, some great plays, and threw three touchdowns," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. "But for the most part, there's a few … I'm sure he wished he had back."
Once again, Cousins found success throwing to the non-obvious choices. Three out of the Washington's four leading receivers were tight ends. Of Cousins' three passing touchdowns, two went to tight end Jordan Reed and one went to running back Chris Thompson. Josh Doctson caught the most passes of the receiving corps with three catches for 39 yards.
Cousins looking to his tight ends and receivers has been an ongoing theme in 2017. Thompson and tight end Vernon Davis lead the team in receiving yards through Week 7. Despite the numbers, Cousins said that he has so far been impressed with the improvements of receivers Terrelle Pryor Sr., Ryan Grant and Josh Doctson but ultimately will throw to whoever is open, regardless of their position.
"As long as we are moving the football, I don't really care who's doing it or how they're doing it," Cousins said. "We just have to find a way to score points and convert those third downs."
Third downs haunted the Redskins all night. Washington converted four times out of 12 third down situations and reached the first down markers 19 times in the game. Penalties and sacks played a large role in the offense's stymied progress. Cousins was sacked four times for a loss of 34 yards and the team racked up 55 lost yards in penalties.
"When you don't convert then you give the ball right back to a talented offense, and you're asking a lot of your defense," Cousins said. "I do feel like if there was something to point to as an offense early in the game that set us behind it was the lack of third down conversions."
The loss of tackle Trent Williams and guard Brandon Scherff hurt Washington's offensive line, leading to more pressure on Cousins once the Eagles decided to dial up the blitz. Cousins' lone interception came during the fourth quarter when the Philadelphia pass rush smacked the quarterback's arm as he threw, causing the off-kilter ball to fall into the hands of safety Corey Graham.
What Washington's passing game lacked in consistency, it made up for with big plays. Davis continued to defy his age, catching a pass for 20 yards or more for the fourth consecutive game. The 33-year old Maryland product made his presence felt two plays into the game, catching a pass from Cousins in the middle of the field and taking it for a 31-yard gain. Davis's contributions combined with Reed's two touchdown gave the passing game much needed stability down the stretch.
After the game, Reed said he felt better about his recovery from his toe injury and added he might finally feel fully healed. Davis praised Reed for his effort during the tough loss and said that the passing game will always be evolving and that some hiccups should be expected for the still developing squad. "I feel like each and every week we are getting better, I really do," Davis said. "I'm optimistic about this team offensively; I know we have all the pieces that we need in order to win games. We just have to come out on Sunday's and get it done."