Here's five takeaways from the Washington Redskins' Week 3 game against the Oakland Raiders that took place at FedExField in Landover, Md.
1. In a complete performance on national television, the Redskins dominated the Raiders.Despite Oakland entering FedExField with a 2-0 record and being considered one of the best teams in the NFL, it was Washington who put on a complete showing Sunday evening.
From the get-go, Washington controlled Oakland. On just the second play from the line of scrimmage, the Redskins intercepted a Derek Carr pass. Eight plays after the Montae Nicholson pick, the Redskins would score a 22-yard touchdown between Trent Williams and Chris Thompson.
It laid the foundation for a one-sided affair throughout the evening. Cousins would finish the night 25-of-30 for 365 yards and three touchdowns, Thompson continued his strong start to the year with 150 receiving yards and the defense allowed just 128 yards, fewest surrendered since the 1992 season.
"I think it was as good a defensive performance that I've seen in a long time by anybody – to hold that offense with Marshawn [Lynch] and Derek [Carr] and [Michael] Crabtree and Amari Cooper… the list goes on and on," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. "0-for-11 on third downs. I mean, it's a great tribute to Coach [Greg] Manusky and the staff, but the players were executing. Hustling. Making sure of tackles and getting the ball out when they had to."
In total, the Redskins outgained the Raiders 472-128 yards. The 344-yard differential was the largest in regular season action for Washington since Dec. 15, 1974, a span of 660 regular season games.
"The fact that it was a full four quarter performance – I felt that was outstanding," Cousins said. "All offseason I was asked, 'What are you working on, what are you trying to get better at?' The answer was situational awareness. Not just stick to my reads, but to think about how does that read change every now and then, because the game situation is changing. I think Jay [Gruden] was talking about that – looking at last year to now. By knowing how to manage situations and making decisions based on what I am coached to do and then how the game is being played."
2. The country got to see Chris Thompson's breakout campaign continue.
Even before Sunday game against the Raiders, Thompson was one of the league's best performers through the first two weeks of the season.
He had the beautiful touchdown reception in the regular season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles and then followed it up with two scores against the Los Angeles Rams.
But Thompson's best game on the young season came against the Raiders, as the fourth-year running back logged six receptions for 150 yards and a touchdown. It was the most receiving yards in a game by any Redskins running back in records available dating back to 1960, surpassing the 140 receiving yards by running back Dick James on Dec. 16, 1962.
His 188 yards from scrimmage were also the most by any member of the Redskins since Alfred Morris' 200-yard performance against the Dallas Cowboys Week 17 of the 2012 season.
"I can't explain it," said Thompson with a smile when asked about his performance. "Everybody all around just did a good job for me. I got a lot of good looks. Our offensive line did such a great job. Kirk also, he did such a great job, just finding me. Coach Gruden, I think he deserves all of the credit for the offense. I think he just called the perfect plays at the right time. My first touchdown I think they ran pretty much an all-out blitz to my side, and I was free releasing. It was such a great job by him. I can't really take a lot of the credit. Just everybody around me did such a great job so it just feels good to continue to be a spark for our offense and just make plays."
Thompson's best play of his 28 offensive snaps came in the third quarter when he turned a screen pass on 3rd-and-19 into a 74-yard gain. Benefitting from great blocking out of the entire offensive line and Terrelle Pryor Sr., Thompson raced down the sideline to not only prevent Oakland from getting the ball, back, but setting up a Dustin Hopkins field goal.
"He's a great player, man," Gruden said. "Now we have to keep him healthy and he's in a great role where he's at. He's going to be very effective working in third downs a lot, we're in second down and long a lot. He will be utilized in those roles quite frequently."
3. The defense heard all about the Raiders' offense, but quickly put an end to the hoopla surrounding Oakland's unit.
The defense hadn't had a performance like this in years.
Not only were the 128 total yards surrendered the team's fewest in 25 seasons, Washington held Oakland to just 32 rushing yards (fewest since the 2014 season) and 96 net passing yards (fewest since the 2008 season).
Despite Oakland's smash mouth style of play, it was Washington who set the tempo. Marshawn Lynch was bottled up any time he touched the ball and the defense flustered Carr into his first multi-interception game since the 2015 season. The defense also sacked him four times.
"We just plan on being physical every game," said Jonathan Allen, who recorded his first NFL sack off Carr. "I feel like that is something we want to build as an identity here. I feel like we did a good job of doing that. You have to give a lot of credit to [Jim] Tomsula and [Greg] Manusky coming up with a great game plan and DBs helped us a lot by covering them so we actually have time to get back there and we stopped the run."
Washington's defense was at its best on third downs, an area they've struggled with in recent years. Oakland had 11 third down attempts. They wouldn't convert a single one.
"Our goal was to stop the run and then get off on third down," Nicholson said. "That is pretty much our goal every week. I think we did that pretty well. Like I said, they have a great offense. Even to do that, it is just a step in the right direction for us. Next up is [Kansas City] so we will go in and just go to work again. That's all we can do."
4. Josh Doctson finally struck with a highlight reel touchdown catch.
In his most extensive NFL action to date, Doctson finally found the end zone on one of the best catches during Sunday's action.
After being targeted earlier on the third quarter drive, one in which Doctson would drop the ball with David Amerson all over his back, the 2016 first-round pick shook off the play to sky over the former Washington cornerback for a 52-yard touchdown.
Despite Cousins slightly underthrowing the deep bomb, Doctson adjusted to sky over Amerson and haul the ball in before trotting into the end zone for his first career touchdown.
"It actually came out of the fake trying to throw it to Terrelle, and I think Terrelle did end up winning late but I felt 38 [T.J. Carrie) I believe was covering Terrelle was getting out of there and I felt like he was taking away the go ball and if Terrelle did end up getting by him it just shows how fast he really is," Cousins said. "Then I looked back over to Josh and Davis Amerson was getting deep as well but I do like Josh's ball skills and his ability to catch the ball up in the air and I thought, you know what, I'm going to give him a chance, they have been asking me to give him that chance and let's give it to him.
"It was scary when it left my hand because I still see David Amerson going up, he's got the ball skills too and Josh made me right but that play can go either way you know? That's why this game is so tough."
Gruden said it was great to see Doctson finish the play with such ease after having a rough start to his time in Washington due to various injuries.
"I think the players have seen him do that in practice quite often but nobody else has," Gruden said. "You guys don't even get a chance to see it very often, so it was good to get Kirk get the ball out of his hands – and it wasn't a perfectly thrown ball, but to give him a chance where he can go up and make a big time catch, hopefully we'll get more of that. But it was great to see man, I'm happy for Josh, and happy that Kirk threw it."
5. For the second straight Sunday Night Football game at FedExField, the Redskins put on a show.
While the Redskins have struggled at times in nationally televised games, two of Washington's best performances over the last two years have come on Sunday Night Football.
Check out the images from the postgame celebration after the Redskins win against the Raiders.
Last November, the Redskins powered past the Packers for a 42-24 victory before silencing the Raiders Sunday with a 27-10 victory in a contest that was more lopsided than the final score.
It marks the first time the Redskins have won back-to-back appearances on Sunday Night Football while pushing the team's all-time record on the broadcast package to 18-17-1.
Although the game pushed the Redskins' season record to 2-1, players and coaches alike downplayed the significance of the performance.
"It's big, but it is not at the same time," Nicholson said. "That sounds weird, but it's big because like you said it is Sunday Night Football. It is primetime. Like I said, they have a great offense, but it isn't at the same time because it's our third game. It's still early in the season. There is still a lot to build on, still a lot of corrections to make but like I said, it is early in the season. I think we will get it together towards the end."
Gruden added that he "didn't care if it was prime time or 1 o'clock or midnight." He just wanted his team to defend home turf once again.
"We had lost the last two or three at home which was disappointing so to get one at home, have it on prime time against a big time team like the Raiders, that was satisfying. But now we just have to celebrate it for a little bit and then get ready for a tough one Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium."