The Redskins quarterback produced a strong fourth quarter, but showed his grit after stripping Aqib Talib of the football following a last minute interception.
Much like the heartbreaking end of the Redskins' regular season, quarterback Trent Williams threw an interception in the waning minute of the Pro Bowl that effectively sealed the AFC's 20-13 victory over the NFC.
But unlike that final throw against the Giants, Cousins wasn't to blame, and he made sure his last memory for the Orlando, Fla., crowd wasn't his last pass either.
With just more than a minute remaining, and with the NFC driving down the field, down seven points, on the brink of the red zone, Cousins fired a pass that went right through the hands of tight end Jimmy Graham, just in front of the goal line. Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander intercepted the deflection and lateraled the ball to cornerback Aquib Talib, who began to sprint towards the opposing end zone.
In a game that doesn't matter, where staying healthy is a victory in and of itself, Cousins' decision and ability to sprint the length of the field and strip Talib of the football at the 15-yard line, as both came crashing to the ground, might have made Redskins fans gasp.
Instead, even as the AFC recovered the loose ball, those gasps turned to proud sighs of relief, happy that the Redskins quarterback had managed to get up unscathed and uninjured, impressed that Cousins had forced a fumble and had never given up on the play.
ESPN analyst Jon Gruden called Cousins' play a "phenomenal effort." In an interview with Lisa Salters on the sideline, Cousins said, "I just thought I'd try to strip him and do my best Don Beebe impersonation," referencing the former Buffalo Bill's famous strip of Leon Lett in Super Bowl XXVII.
Take a look at photos of Redskins QB Kirk Cousins and LT Trent Williams playing in the 2017 Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
The final play was the punctuation for a solid night by Cousins otherwise. He threw 14-of-20 passes for 158 yards, a team high, replacing quarterback Drew Brees early in the fourth quarter. Cousins drove the NFC down the field for two field goals to get the team within a score before the interception.
"It was fun," Cousins said. "Would have loved to have come out with a win, everybody was playing hard, I enjoyed meeting all the guys, getting to know their personalities, and I think a big reason why they're Pro Bowlers is because they're good people, not just good football players. Had a lot of fun all week long, and would have loved to have come out with a win, but enjoyed the week and hope to get back in the future, obviously a Super Bowl would be preferred, but Pro Bowl is a lot of fun."
Among his favorite targets were Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham and Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, who each received at least a couple passes from Cousins in the fourth quarter. It may have been a strange sight, but Cousins was glad to have had the opportunity to get know them better as people throughout the week of festivities.
"It was unique being in the locker room with them and truly feeling like they were teammates," Cousins said. "But that's the beauty of the Pro Bowl, it brings a lot of guys together, it makes it fun, and next year when we play these guys it will be a different experience for me knowing them as people a little more, so I look forward to crossing paths with these guys for years to come and continue to move this game forward."
Check out these photos of Kirk Cousins and Trent Williams attending 2017 Pro Bowl events.
Left tackle Trent Williams, after not playing in last year's game, also provided solid play for the entire first half. Instead of playing at his normal left tackle position, head coach Jason Garrett moved him to right tackle for the night, just another resume builder.
For the next month, Cousins will remain in Atlanta, including a minor pit stop in Houston this week for the Super Bowl, to rest and start training again. He will see some specialists, he said, and will also catch up on some more reading during his free time.
As for his experience this past week – including everything from skills competitions, to Dodgeball to Disney – Cousins is eager to return.
"The crowd obviously showed that Orlando's a great spot to have it but I think we all enjoyed the week a great deal," Cousins said. "The Disney Parks, Universal Studios, we had great weather, Wide World of Sports, our hotel. It was an outstanding experience, easy to get to, so I think it was an easy decision to put it here. I'm sure Hawaii is a great experience, too, but I got no complaints for Orlando."
Additional reporting from Bryan Van Balen