A little over a year ago, Kirk Cousins had a chance to finish a game-winning drive against the Eagles. The Redskins trailed by three with two minutes left and had a first and 10 at the Philly 40. But Cousins threw four incomplete passes and the Eagles escaped with the win.
Today against the Eagles he had another chance to win a game, but this opportunity carried a considerably higher degree of difficulty. Trailing 20-16 with 6:02 to play, the Redskins had the ball on their own 10. Cousins again got in the huddle and took things step by step. They weren’t going to go 90 yards in one play.
“We try to focus on the process and not the results, so it’s very important for us to take it one play at a time, stay in the moment, stay present,” said Cousins.
The Redskins took it one play at a time for a clock-killing 15 plays, five of them runs. Their biggest single play in the drive gained just 16 yards and came on an Alfred Morris run to start the drive. It was six yards here, four there, 12 a few plays later.
Coach Jay Gruden, of course, was impressed by Cousins during the drive.
“You can see that his decision making is pretty good,” said Gruden. “To have that high completion percentage (31 of 46, 67 percent), [one] touchdown, no interceptions . . . he’s really managing the football game. He’s putting us in a position to win in the fourth quarter, and we finally did it.”
Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay put the game in Cousins’ hands after the Redskins reached the Eagles’ 30 with 1:18 left to play. He threw a bullet to Pierre Garçon, who took it away from an Eagles defender for 14 yards. Two plays later Cousins fired to Garçon again for 12 yards to the four. After an incompletion, Cousins found Garçon just over the goal line in the middle of a pack of defenders.
“I didn’t see exactly where I was at, I just knew who was in front of me, had to beat him,” said Garçon. “I looked back and saw the ball coming, reached out for it, caught it and then, I felt hits from all over, hits from everybody. I looked and I was glad that I was on the other side of the white line instead of, you know, a yard short.”
Cousins said that he couldn’t have completed a drive like this one as a rookie. In fact, he couldn’t completed a year ago in Philadelphia. For that matter, he had a couple of chances to tie the Week 1 game against the Dolphins. Whether he could have gotten the job done on any of those drives is a hypothetical to ponder. We do know that he didn’t finish the job.
Today, he did. We don’t know if this will prove to be a turning point or just a blip on the radar. Time will tell.