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League admits to getting Kirk Cousins' intentional grounding call wrong, per report

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USA TODAY Sports

League admits to getting Kirk Cousins' intentional grounding call wrong, per report

NEW ORLEANS—The Redskins apparently were on the wrong end of a bad call late in their game against the Saints on Sunday and, according to a report, the league admitted it.

Per Mike Jones of USA Today, a league official told Redskins president Bruce Allen that intentional grounding should not have been called against Kirk Cousins with the game tied with 28 seconds left in regulation on Sunday.

The rule is clear. From the NFL rule book:

It is a foul for intentional grounding if a passer, facing an imminent loss of yardage because of pressure from the defense, throws a forward pass without a realistic chance of completion.

There wasn’t a Saints defender within a few yards of Cousins when he threw the ball. The pass was not to prevent a sack, it was a mixup with receiver Jamison Crowder.

MORE REDSKINS: A BRUTAL FINAL SIX MINUTES

But the men in stripes conferred and dropped a flag. The penalty was 10 yards, a loss of down, and a 10-second clock runoff. So instead of second and 10 at the 34 with time to run a few more plays, it was second and 20 at the 44 with time running out. The Redskins have every right to believe that they were robbed.

However, they also robbed themselves. The litany of self-inflicted problems is there for anyone who watched the game to see. From not being able to get a touchdown on the board early after D.J. Swearinger’s interception in Saints territory, to committing a false start lining up for a field goal try near the end of the first half, to the inability to get a yard on third and one and to the helplessness of the defense against Drew Brees in the final six minutes of regulation. The mistake by referee Walt Coleman’s crew was glaring but it was far from the only entry on the list of reasons the Redskins lost.

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The thing is, it shouldn’t have been on the list at all. At least one official on the field is always able to communicate with the suits at 345 Park Avenue. They handle the replays from the league office and we get all kinds of strange interpretations of what a catch is or isn’t. Why can’t someone in New York get in the ear of someone in stripes on the field and say, “Hey, don’t drop that flag, he wasn’t under pressure?”

The technology to prevent a misinterpretation of the rules by the officials on the field is in place right now. It could be done with minimal disruption to the game. It’s a crime that the league won’t use it.

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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If Redskins really are still evaluating Kirk Cousins, Sunday was a bad performance

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If Redskins really are still evaluating Kirk Cousins, Sunday was a bad performance

If the Redskins truly need to evaluate Kirk Cousins over the final half of the 2017 season, the quarterback did himself no favors on Sunday. 

Cousins played his worst game of the year against the Chargers, and it's not even close. Nobody played well for the Redskins, save for maybe punter Tress Way, but Cousins performed particularly poor against his baseline for the season. 

He delivered his lowest yardage total (151 pass yards), completion percentage (55 percent) and QB rating (68) of the year, and by a wide margin. Cousins missed throws high and long, and again seemed to struggle to hold onto the ball while getting hit. 

The good news for Cousins, however, is since being named starter in 2015, there haven't been many performances like this. Generally, Cousins is never this bad, and maybe that's why the performance in L.A. stands out so much. 

RELATED: HOW HOT ARE SEATS GETTING AT REDSKINS PARK?

"I’m not here to throw stones at anybody on the offense, I know from what we expect offensively, it wasn’t even close to what we want or what we should look like from an efficiency standpoint," Washington head coach Jay Gruden said on Monday. 

At this point, the evolving contract situation between the Redskins and Cousins clouds everything going on with the team. In just three more games, Cousins will again be a free agent, and team president Bruce Allen will need to decide if the team will use a transition tag, a franchise tag, get a long-term deal done or let their quarterback walk. 

The tags carry a tremendous salary cap hit, though a long-term deal will probably do the same. Letting Cousins walk carries a possible severe penalty, but not on the salary cap. 

Over the past 10 days, national analysts have begun to question Cousins' leadership skills, and Dan Patrick even suggested Redskins' receivers don't like Cousins as their quarterback. The assertion came that Cousins throws too many dangerous passes for his wideouts, causing big hits. 

Whether or not that assertion is true, Cousins did throw multiple high passes over the middle against the Chargers. Those are the exact passes that cause big hits on receivers. 

REALTED: WEEK 14 NFL POWER RANKINGS 

It's worth pointing out, almost every QB does that to some degree. For his part, Cousins said that certainly it was not intentional.

"I’m sure I’ve led people into traffic. I know I led Pierre Garcon into some big hits in the past, but I think it also is a part of playing the receiver position and it’s tough," Cousins said on 106.7 the Fan on Monday.

Asked specifically about the high passes, Gruden only talked about inaccuracy. 

"He was not quite as accurate as he has been, obviously," the coach said. "He missed some throws that he normally makes. He threw behind a couple of guys on some deep balls and he threw a couple over some guys’ heads from time to time."

It's hard to think one game could sway the opinions of the Redskins front office about their quarterback. If one game could, however, it could have been Cousins' performance against the Chargers.

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Need to Know: How hot are seats getting at Redskins Park?

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: How hot are seats getting at Redskins Park?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, December 12, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Cardinals at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until:

—Broncos @ Redskins Christmas Eve (12/24) 12
—Redskins @ Giants (12/17) 19
—NFL Draft (4/26/18) 135

Four Downs

First down

In their last two games, both blowout losses, the Redskins have had one play that went for 30 yards or more. They are not that different from most other NFL teams in that they aren’t going to consistently grind out touchdown drives; there are too many chances for errors. “We’re not making any plays,” said Jay Gruden when asked why the team has struggled. “Offensively we made a couple of plays to get six points on the board but after that we missed throws, we didn’t target some runs right, we didn’t block at the point of attack correctly, we didn’t tackle, we didn’t make any spectacular plays, athletic plays like you are used to seeing this team make. When that happens, your offense is going to sputter.”

Second down

How hot are seats getting at Redskins Park? While it’s difficult to read the tea leaves there, I don’t think that we are looking at wholesale changes in coaches or upper management. Jay Gruden just signed an extension. Greg Manusky has only been on the job for a year. Doug Williams hasn’t even been through a draft or free agency cycle in his new personnel job. Special teams coach Ben Kotwica’s changes have played well the last two years and certainly, injuries played a key role in the struggles there this year. While it might be tempting to do some house cleaning after a disappointing season, the likely outcome is that the injuries give everyone a pass and we see what happens next year.

Third down

Bashaud Breeland didn’t exactly get benched against the Chargers but Quinton Dunbar did play more as the No. 2 cornerback. Dunbar played 47 of the 72 snaps and Breeland played 28. This could be one of the first moves we’ve seen with an eye on 2018. Breeland will be an unrestricted free agent and Dunbar will remain under team control as a restricted free agent. The conventional wisdom is that Breeland will be gone next year as he will command a contract in the $8 million to $10 million range. Dunbar has played plenty of snaps and has been in games during many key situations during his three years here so the move wasn’t that eye-opening. Putting in Dunbar was not as risky a move as putting in, say, Fabian Moreau would have been. The rookie has played just 54 defensive snaps all year.

Fourth down

Kirk Cousins’ 151 yards passing were the fewest he has had in a game that he started and finished in his NFL career. It was as unproductive a game as we’ve seen from him. After scoring a touchdown and then losing the ball on downs in Chargers territory in the second quarter, the Redskins had seven straight drives that ended with punts from their own territory. Of course, the problem wasn’t just the offense. As Dan Steinberg pointed out, this was the first game since 1978 that the Redskins allowed more than 480 yards while gaining less than 210. This team isn’t tanking to try to get a better draft pick but if they were, the Chargers game is what it would look like.

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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