Quarterback Kirk Cousins rushed for two touchdown and threw for another and got the Redskins offense back on track to keep the team alive in the playoff chase.
For the last three games, the Redskins offense had struggled to click early, beginning with three-and-outs and having to play catchup throughout each of their recent contests. The urgency seemed to lack, a recipe quarterback Kirk Cousins wasn't keen on repeating with two games left in the season and the playoffs on the line.
So, in Saturday's 41-21 victory over the Bears, Cousins took matters into his own hands, and legs for that matter, running for two scores and throwing for another that reversed the offense's slow start trend. The Redskins took an early lead on a Chris Thompson touchdown run and never relinquished it while Cousins picked up a couple more franchise records along the way.
The quarterback completed 18-of-29 passes for 270 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, setting career highs in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns (two) while pushing his team record for passing yards in a single season to 4,630.
His 14th completion of the game, a 13-yard third down conversion to tight end Vernon Davis, eclipsed his own team record for completions in a single season (379 in 2015), too.
The majority of those completions went to wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who finished the game with five catches for 114 yards. He came to life during the Redskins' second drive of the game, grabbing a high21-yard pass over the middle and sustaining a big blow in the process. On the next drive, Cousins found Jackson on a crossing route that turned into a 57-yard gain thanks to Jackson's nice starter step on safety Deon Bush.
Showing good poise and patience, Cousins capped the drive with a screen pass to Thompson, who ran for his second touchdown of the day. Instead of panicking under pressure, Cousins managed to get the pass off through a wall of defenders in his path, setting up a couple of big lanes for Thompson to scamper through.
"It goes to the offensive line early," head coach Jay Gruden said. "It enables him time and when he can be comfortable back there, he can go through one or two or three progressions, he is pretty darn good. Hats off to the offensive line, they played outstanding. The receivers winning the 1-on-1 battles, Kirk [Cousins] finding the holes in the zones. It was very crucial for us and those guys were excellent, Pierre [Garcon] and DeSean [Jackson]."
Certainly a balanced run game, something the Redskins desired to achieve more often this season, influenced the way Cousins worked in the pocket. Gaining chunks of yards made for manageable downs and distances, and the Bears' man coverages allowed Cousins to find running lanes when he needed them. Between Cousins and the running backs group, the Redskins ran the ball 35 times on Saturday and gained 208 rushing yards.
"We've said it for a long time that the run game always helps, to stay in manageable down and distances, to keep defenses honest, and to open up the play-action game," Cousins said. "When it becomes a productive play, it makes a difference. You always want to stay as balanced as you can and have a productive running game, and I think for the most part today we did."
"Last week we were so one dimensional," Gruden said. "The guys were in a pass rush stance the whole time and rush it up the field but this week they had to play the run, had to play the play action, the pass, it was a good combination and DeSean [Jackson] did a great job."
A couple times Cousins scrambled for first downs, keeping the defense wary of his presence. With the team ahead 17-7 in the second quarter, Cousins used his speed to score, keeping the football on a zone-read and jetting around linebacker Pernell McPhee to squeeze in for a 9-yard touchdown run.
Later, on the Redskins first drive of the third quarter, Cousins ran a 1-yard sneak for a touchdown to make cornerback Josh Norman's first interception count, helping dispel the notion that the offense might run out of steam in the second half.
The touchdown marked the first time a Redskins quarterback rushed for two touchdowns in a game since Robert Griffin III had in Week 6 of the 2012 season vs. Minnesota. Cousins also became the second quarterback in NFL history to record 4,000 passing yards and four rushing touchdowns in consecutive seasons since Aaron Rodgers did so in 2009-2010.
Spreading the ball around to eight different receivers, Cousins had the kind of day the Redskins needed to stay alive in the playoff hunt. This time, the energy and focus had enhanced and sharpened, providing the fast start that Washington is most comfortable playing.
"There was a sense of urgency," Cousins said. "There always is though. Every game is important, and we know that they all matter. So, we always feel that. No doubt, coming on the road, and, it's the Chicago Bears. You can throw the records out. It's an iconic organization and a lot of history here and a lot of great players on the field, so we knew we were going to have to bring our best."