Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for more than 300 yards and played impressively in a return to his home state on Sunday vs. the Lions.
It is often easy to equate a sputtering offense and a low point total with poor quarterback play, but a closer look at the Redskins' 20-17 loss to the Lions on Sunday showed that wasn't particularly the case with respect to Kirk Cousins.
In front of friends and family, who travelled roughly three hours from Cousins' hometown of Holland, Mich., the Michigan State product had one of his better games of the season despite the early struggles and lack of production as a whole.
Cousins went 30-of-39 passing for 301 yards and two total touchdowns, the latter of which was a 19-yard zone-read scramble and dive into the end zone to give the Redskins a temporary lead with just more than a minute left in the game. One the previous drive, he hit running back Robert Kelley on a one-yard touchdown pass that would bring Washington to within three points.
"When you play in the NFL you know that every game is going to test you, and it's going to be a grind from start to finish," Cousins said. "No surprise there, that's to be expected. Loved being able to come home, I know I'm from the west side of the state, but the state of Michigan is home to me. I wear a baseball cap around the facility a lot with the state of Michigan on it, so it means a lot to me. I had a great number of people from both Michigan State and my hometown of Holland who drove over to support me. Felt right at home here, so it was very special for me. Would have loved to have come out on top, but it'll be fun to connect with everybody after the game now. Get some hugs and some smiles, and just appreciate all the support."
If not for two lost fumbles, the outcome of the game, and the offense's outlook moving forward, would have likely been different. Near the end of the first quarter, running back Matt Jones fumbled on the Lions' 2-yard line after fighting for extra yardage at the end of his run. In the third quarter, with the Redskins again in Lions territory, Cousins fumbled a handoff to Jones after tripping on the leg of center Spencer Long, who was pushed back immediately after the snap by defensive tackle Khyri Thornton.
But the offense finally managed to finish drives in the fourth quarter. Cousins relied heavily on wide receiver Jamison Crowder on third downs and was able to hit Vernon Davis with a 27-yard pass to set up Kelley's first career touchdown. On the final drive, Cousins drove the offense 76 yards on nine plays, taking up four minutes and 17 seconds. He zipped a pass to Crowder streaking over the middle for 19 yards on third down and found running back Chris Thompson for an eight-yard pass as he fell to the ground off balance.
Check out the top images from the Washington Redskins' offense in their 2016 Week 7 matchup against the Detroit Lions Oct. 23, 2016, at Ford Field.
That set up Cousins' run to the right corner of the end zone.
"Phenomenal play call by [offensive coordinator] Sean [McVay]," Cousins said. "We had run it the previous play and handed it off. Second time we got to it because we didn't get the look we wanted on a pass play, so we checked to it. The defensive end closed and pulled it. Phenomenal blocking by our receiver on the outside to give me the chance to get there, and great play design."
"It' been in our playbook," head coach Jay Gruden said. "If you read it, sometimes you hand it off. We ran it a couple times in this game and the end crashed and he kept it. It was a great play by Kirk."
Ultimately, the defense couldn't stop Matthew Stafford and the Lions from retaking the lead in the final seconds of the game, a drive that soured what Cousins had remarkably pulled off just before it.
"It's never going to be perfect and we had our fair share of mistakes," Cousins said. "But we kept playing and it was a good reminder that when you keep playing, usually good things happen. Our defense kept us in the game and gave us a chance at the end."