Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins on Sunday turned in yet another gem, throwing for four touchdowns and adding a rushing score in Washington's win over the Buffalo Bills.*
On Aug. 31, Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden stepped to the podium at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va., and declared, "It's Kirk's team."
From that moment, Kirk Cousins has done nothing but show improvement and growth in his first full-time opportunity as the team's starting quarterback.
Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills was just the latest and greatest example of this trend, as the fourth-year signal caller from Michigan State accounted for five total touchdowns – four throwing and another score on the ground – in Washington's 35-25 victory over Buffalo at FedExField.
"I think play calling today was outstanding – it put me in a position to be successful," Cousins said. "We very rarely got in third-and-long, especially in the first half, which enabled us to dictate the terms on first and second down and have a run-pass mix, play-action pass and bootleg."
In all, Cousins completed 22-of-28 passes (78.6 percent) for 319 yards with a career-high-tying four passing touchdowns, as well as a 13-yard rushing touchdown.
He finished the game with a passer rating of 153.7, one-tenth of a point shy of recording a perfect passer rating for the second time this season.
"Great balance going on right now," Gruden said after the game. "We're making plays. [Offensive Coordinator] Sean [McVay] and the offensive staff is doing a great job of mixing up the play calling and keeping the defense off-balance, but really it's a player's game, and Kirk is doing a great job of managing it."
The win on Sunday against the Bills put the Redskins at 7-7 on the year, as the team continues to stay in first place in the NFC East with Saturday's huge matchup against the Eagles in Philadelphia now on the horizon.
But the victory also continued an impressive total season for Cousins, especially in home games. With the Redskins' regular season home schedule now concluded, Cousins' 117.0 passer rating in home games this season was the best by a Redskins quarterback since at least 1950, surpassing the 111.8 mark set by Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen in 1970.
Cousins also turned in his sixth 300-yard passing performing of the season on Sunday, breaking the previous record of five set by Jurgensen in 1967, Jay Schroeder in 1986 and Mark Rypien in 1989.
Also, with his 14th completion of the day – an eight-yard gain to running back Matt Jones – Cousins broke the franchise record for pass completions in a single season (327, Jason Campbell in 2009).
Gruden said Cousins getting the opportunity to be a backup the first three years of his career "hasn't hurt," giving him the chance to turn in plenty of mental reps and game studying and planning as he waited on his chance.
He's certainly capitalized in 2015. In 13 games, he's completed 314-of-454 passes (69 percent) for 3,306 yards with 18 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, and has another five touchdowns on the ground.
"That's the good thing about Kirk – he's never lost confidence or faith," Gruden said. "At least for the amount of time I've been with him, he's studied the game and worked to get himself to be a starter in this league. Hats off to him to get himself ready."
With each big play Cousins made on Sunday, the FedExField faithful was heard chanting, "You like that?" an ode to the quarterback's now-famous exclamation after the team's huge come-from-behind victory Week 7 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The phrase has taken over Redskins Nation, and is even being used as fuel by Cousins' teammates.
Yes – in case you didn't know, this is indeed Kirk's team.
"Throughout the whole game you hear that," said wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who finished with a season-best six receptions for 153 yards and a touchdown, courtesy of Cousins. "As far as us, we're just doing everything we can to get behind [Cousins], to stand by him, play him and be in the position that we need to be in once plays are called just to get our jobs done. Just play together, have a great offense and all that good stuff. 'You like that?' everybody is rolling with it."