Kirk Cousins was perhaps the last guy the Baltimore Ravens' defense thought would be diving across the goal line on a game-tying, two-point conversion attempt late in Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins.
They were wrong.
Cousins — the lesser fleet-footed of the two Redskins' rookie quarterbacks — and the rest of the Washington offense ran the quarterback draw play to perfection Sunday, as the Michigan State product successfully found the end zone via the run to tie the game at 28 with just 29 seconds left.
**The Redskins would go on to ride the momentum of the play into overtime, as kicker Kai Forbath nailed a 34-yard field goal to defeat the Ravens, 31-28, in front of 81,178 fans at FedExField.
Cousins — who was relieving an injured Robert Griffin III at quarterback late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game — credited the Redskins coaching staff with the gutsy two-point conversion play call after he had found wide receiver Pierre Garçon open in the corner of the end zone a play before to bring Washington within two at 28-26.
"They gave us a look for it; it was obviously a great call," Cousins said after the game. "I have been very impressed with both [offensive coordinator] Kyle [Shanahan] and [head coach Mike] Shanahan's ability to call plays and put quarterbacks in a position to be successful and I think their track record shows that with the quarterbacks they have been around, but certainly I felt like they did that with me, the little bit I was in there."
Cousins twice relieved an injured Griffin III late in Sunday's game. Griffin III — who came into the game the three-time defending NFL Rookie of the Week — injured his right knee with 1:56 remaining in the game on a scramble.
In came Cousins for one play, whose pass attempt to Garçon was short. But a pass interference call on Ravens cornerback Chris Johnson gave Washington a first down at their own 40-yard line.
Griffin III tried to gut it out from there and played four more snaps — two of which were completed passes for a combined 37 yards — before the pain was too much to handle. Griffin III exited the game for a final time, and Cousins took over for good.
On 2nd and 20 from the Baltimore 26, Cousins found wide receiver Leonard Hankerson for a 15-yard gain. After a Washington timeout with 36 seconds left, Cousins faced a 3rd and 5 from the 11-yard line. Lined up in the shotgun with running back Evan Royster to his left, Cousins pump faked once before scrambling to his right and throwing off his back foot to Garçon, who was open in the front corner of the end zone. He made the catch to bring the Redskins within two points at 28-26.
Forced to go for two in the situation, the Redskins elected to use the element of surprise to get the ball into the end zone.
"I loved the call," Redskins right guard Chris Chester said. "As soon as Kyle [Shanahan] called it, I knew we were going to score."
This time Cousins was lined up in the shotgun with Royster to his right. Cousins dropped back as if he was going to pass, saw the Ravens had rushed just three and took off, diving into the end zone with the ball before passionately spiking the ball to celebrate.
Game tied. Overtime.
"It's a play we feel really comfortable with," tight end Logan Paulsen recalled of the two-point conversion quarterback draw. "Kirk has the option of running it if they give the right look, and I think they gave him the right look. Kirk executed it the way you draw it up."
Paulsen — who is oftentimes seen working with Cousins on extra routes after practices — said he was happy to see Cousins get his time to shine Sunday.
"It's fantastic, especially because you know how hard he prepares," Paulsen said. "You know he's just a good person, so you want what's best for him. Coming into an extremely difficult situation and excelling the way that he did, I think it's fantastic."
Cousins said he was happy to embrace the challenge. Depending on the situation with Griffin III's knee, Cousins said he's ready to lead his team if need be next Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
"Any time I can get experience, a practice rep in training camp, a preseason game, a real game, it is going to help me," Cousins said. "Fortunately, I had 10 guys around me who were doing their job at a high level and it made my job much, much easier."