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For Kirk Cousins, and maybe Redskins fans, it's time to trust the process

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For Kirk Cousins, and maybe Redskins fans, it's time to trust the process

To many fans, the Redskins displayed a level of heart and tenacity in last Sunday's come-from-behind win in Seattle that the team lacked last season. 

For Kirk Cousins, however, the process outweighed the outcome. And not in the plus column. 

"I’ve learned to ignore outcomes at times, I’ve learned to ignore the noise on the outside and just focus on the process. And I’ll be the first one to say that the process against Seattle by no means was perfect," Cousins said Wednesday. "I felt like there were a lot of mistakes. Maybe it never had to come down to a two-minute drill if we had been better through the first three-and-a-half quarters."

Usually insightful, Cousins answered the question with forthright introspection. Earlier this year, Cousins said that he was not searching for signature wins, rather a signature season. Asked after the Seahawks game if the victory carried more importance, if for nothing else than to keep the Redskins in the playoff hunt, he talked about the process compared to the outcome. 

And he explained that outcomes don't always portray performance, particularly in his position. 

"I think this is a great case study in the way that the outside thinks versus the way that I think. And I totally understand from covering the team, fan base perspective, the emotional rollercoaster, I understand that a two-minute drill on the road against a good football team, finding a way to win, it’s exciting and it’s fun and it gets the juices going," Cousins said. "I’m a little bit more process-oriented and there have been games where I’ve thrown for a lot of yards and felt like I played nearly flawlessly but we lost."

It's an interesting paradox for Cousins, and likely for quarterbacks all over the league. 

Much like starting pitchers in baseball, QBs often get assigned the blame for a loss or the credit for a win. In Cousins' situation, it seems like that happens on an accelerated scale. 

And it sounds like he's cognizant of that.

"I walk away saying, ‘I’m getting better, I’m doing really good things, I’m about the process, and my process was really good today. I can’t control the outcome but the process was really good.’ But the noise on the outside is, ‘He’s got to get better, he’s not doing enough, we didn’t come away with the win.’"

That's why Cousins ignores the outside noise.

Does that mean he ignores the meaning in the come-from-behind win in Seattle? Not exactly. 

"Was it a great finish? Yes. Did we show a lot of character? Yes. Did I love the resiliency? Is that a game I’ll remember? Yes. But, I don’t like to get too outcome-focused."

Listening to Cousins, it sounds like focusing on outcomes, instead of the process, could allow for complacency to set in. Particularly after a big win on the road. 

"I feel, on the outside, I feel that happening after this game and that’s OK, on the outside. My concern is in the locker room, in our organization, making sure that we don’t allow that to creep in."

Cousins' comments come with some element of surprise. Few NFL players give that honest, that open of an answer, especially following a major win.

Many players would relish in the positive attention a game like the Redskins played in Seattle creates. Fans love it. Media members report on the highlights, and the excitement, from such a victory. 

None of that is wrong either.

Players should be allowed to enjoy themselves. Fans should absolutely enjoy themselves. The media's job is to report on what happens, and when that's a wild, comeback win, the story is more fun to report. 

For Cousins, though, it's clear he wasn't thrilled with his play in Seattle.

He completed 21 of 31 passes for 247 yards. He got sacked a number of times, and was hit consistently throughout the game, playing behind a patchwork offensive line. 

The most memorable of those 21 passes, by a large margin, came in the final two minutes, when the Redskins quarterback drove the team 70 yards in less than a minute, and engineered the game winning touchdown. 

The good news for Redskins fans?

Despite the late heroics, Cousins isn't happy.

He liked the outcome, obviously, but not the process. 

That process - that mindset - will drive the Redskins' passer to better performances. 

For Kirk Cousins, and maybe Redskins fans, it's time to trust the process. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Need to Know: Five Key plays in Redskins vs. Saints

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Need to Know: Five Key plays in Redskins vs. Saints

NEW ORLEANS—Here is what you need to know on this Monday, November 20, three days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Giants on Thanksgiving Day at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Jay Gruden press conference 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 10
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 20
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 27

Five key plays in Redskins vs Saints

D.J. Swearinger interception in the first quarter—Although the Redskins didn’t fully capitalize on the takeaway in Saints territory—they got a field goal—the play helped the Redskins jump on top in what would be a back-and-forth first half. Swearinger has three interceptions in the last two games.

Fourth and six pass to Vernon Davis for 26 yards—This was the first of two fourth-down gambles Gruden took. This one was from the New Orleans 39. This one paid off in spades as Kirk Cousins found Davis for a first down at the Saints 13. Three plays later Samaje Perine got in from a yard out. That made it 17-10 and the Redskins would not trail again until, well, you know.

False start when lined up for field goal—Things were going great for the Redskins as they had a nice drive going at the end of the half. The advance stalled and they lined up for a 51-yard field goal try. But there was a false start on the play and the Redskins had to punt. Josh Holsey almost downed it inside the one but he shuffled his feet one too many times and he fielded the ball with his heels on the goal line stripe, resulting in a touchback. That gave the Saints the field position they needed to drive for a field goal as time ran out.  

Fourth and one fake punt—The Redskins had just seen Chris Thompson get carted off the field after suffering a broken fibula in his right leg. It was fourth and one at the Washington 15 and they lined up in punt formation. Niles Paul took the direct snap and powered up the middle for five yards. Apparently inspired by the big, uh, courage shown by Jay Gruden on that, the Redskins continued the drive and got into the end zone on a 40-yard pass from Cousins to Ryan Grant. That put the Reskins up 24-13 with 1:44 left in the third.

Third and one Perine for minus-1—I don’t think I need go into much detail here, you know what happened.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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In the span of six minutes, the Redskins' season went from hope to despair in New Orleans

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In the span of six minutes, the Redskins' season went from hope to despair in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS—The Redskins’ game against the Saints, and perhaps their whole season went from hope to despair in the span of just six minutes.

When Kirk Cousins threw a touchdown pass to tight end Jeremy Sprinkle, the Redskins were up by 15 points with 5:58 to play. Some Saints fans departed the Mercedes Benz Superdome, figuring that their team’s seven-game losing streak was about to end.

But Drew Brees and the Saints weren’t going anywhere. The Redskins defense was loose, to say the least, as the Hall of Fame quarterback completed seven of seven passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. The drive took just 3:05 and it seemed that the Saints barely broke a sweat.

RELATED: 5 TAKEAWAYS FROM THE PAINFUL LOSS IN NEW ORLEANS

“We gave up too quick a score on the initial one,” said Jay Gruden.

But the Redskins were still in control of the game. After two Samaje Perine runs, the Saints were out of timeouts and Washington had third and one with 2:38 to go. The lined up and then called a timeout.

“We actually lined up with a tight end on the wrong side so we had to get that fixed up,” said Gruden.

It’s week 11 and the tight end can’t line up on the right side of the formation on a critical play. Perhaps they should be beyond these issues by now?

Even with the tight end properly aligned, the play had no chance as Perine tried to go off the right side and he was hit for a one-yard loss. The clock wound down to the two-minute warning and Tress Way boomed a 54-yard punt that was fair caught at the Saints 13. The Redskins had to defend 87 yards of turf for 1:53. They couldn’t do it.

Brees again took on the role of the hot knife and the Redskins still were the butter. Four for four passing, each throw gaining 17 yards or more. The touchdown pass to Alvin Kamara and the two-point conversion tied the game at 31-31.

When asked what happened, linebacker and former Saint Junior Galette said that while he respects Brees and the Saints, this one was on the defense.

“In two minute, he’s one of the best I’ve seen but still we’ve got to bow down and tighten our defense up,” he said.

“They’re a really good team but I honestly feel that we beat ourselves today,” said Galette. “It’s a really good team, one of the better teams we’ve played all year but if you watch that game you know we beat ourselves.”

Safety D.J. Swearinger echoed Galette’s viewpoint.

RELATED: THIS REDSKINS' LOSS LITERALLY DEFIED THE ODDS

“They came back and beat us fair and square,” he said. “But at the end of the day we didn’t do our job. We beat ourselves for sure. We for sure beat ourselves.”

In case there was any doubt about it, Swearinger then said that they beat themselves twice more in the next sentences.

The good part of the Saints drive was that it consumed just 48 seconds, leaving the Redskins with 1:05 to try to get a winning field goal. Cousins threw three passes to Jamison Crowder and all of a sudden the Redskins were on the New Orleans 34, close enough to at least attempt a game winning field goal.

But then it fell apart. With 31 seconds left, Cousins took a snap from behind center and immediately threw the ball out of bounds on the right side with no receiver nearby. The officials conferred and dropped a flag for intentional grounding.

The flag never should have been thrown because the rule says that the quarterback must be in imminent danger of getting sacked. Cousins was not. But the way the play went down it certainly gave referee Walt Coleman the opportunity to make a mistake and you never want to do that.

The explanations for the throw offered by the coach and quarterback were somewhat confusing and didn’t really line up. But for the record, here is the gist of what each of them said:

Gruden: “I was trying to get his [Cousins’] attention and hand signal a bubble screen out there. If we get it out there and get it out of bounds, we get another play called. Unfortunately, Jamison didn’t get it.”

Cousins: “I looked over to the sideline out of the corner of my eye and I just saw the coaches saying, ‘throw it’. They wanted potentially an audible, get to an actual pass play. I thought they were saying throw it to Jamison, in the general area of Jamison, there was an eligible in the area and there’s no penalty.”

There is little point into going into the minutia of what they said. There seems to have been some confusion in the loud Superdome and perhaps Gruden will clarify it in his Monday press conference.

Again, it should not have been grounding but you can’t give them a chance to make that mistake.

And the Redskins still had 18 seconds (after a 10-second runoff that perhaps should not have happened) to try to get back the 10 yards and maybe a few more to get a shot at a field goal. But he was sacked (the Saints’ first sack of the day) and he fumbled. Morgan Moses recovered but the clock ran out.

Although they had a 10-minute overtime, it felt like it was over and it soon was. The Redskins went three and out. Brees didn’t even have to drop back to pass as runs of 20 and 31 yards set up the field goal that applied the final gut punch.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.