Every Wednesday the scene is about the same: as the media heads towards the locker room, Kirk Cousins is seated on a couch poring over the plays. He keeps his eyes peeled on his iPad as the media shuffles past.
There’s no pressure on Cousins. Then again, there’s a lot of pressure. Robert Griffin III is the starter, but Cousins knows that to keep the Redskins pushing for a playoff spot, there can’t be any drop-off if Griffin is hurt. Like Sunday.
“I have a lot to live up to if my number is called because of the way he has played,” Cousins said.
And that’s what he did in Sunday’s 31-28 overtime win over Baltimore on Sunday. Cousins only attempted three passes after Griffin sprained his knee. But all three resulted in positive plays: a pass interference for seven yards and a first down; a 15-yarder to Leonard Hankerson to the Ravens’ 11; and an 11-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon.
“If he would have come in the huddle too excited, it would be like, ‘Kirk, calm down, this is not you,’ “ Redskins receiver Joshua Morgan said. “He came in like he normally does, so nobody said anything. We just kept playing football.”
The touchdown pass to Garcon was off-schedule, Cousins said. And you can credit his previous experience vs. Atlanta for what happened. In that game Cousins threw two late interceptions. On the second, Cousins waited too long on the play and threw to a covered target.
“I tried to do too much,” he said.
But Sunday he got off his primary target and slid to the right and found Garcon. Cousins pump-faked the corner, in a cover-2 zone, out of position on the right side, leaving Garcon wide open.
“I thought, ‘I am going to make something happen and try to do my best RGIII,’ “ Cousins said. “Pierre ended up coming off his route and breaking away, breaking open, wide open, all I had to do was put it in his arms.”
Then Cousins scored on a quarterback draw. Griffin has scored twice on that play, and fumbled just before he would have scored on a third (it was recovered by Garcon).
“That was the last thing they were expecting,” Redskins center Will Montgomery said. “They actually dropped one of their defensive ends in coverage. It opened up the middle.”
Cousins said, “I am not as fast as Robert so those blocks will have to be made for me to score and they were. I just had to dive across the goal line to do the rest of it.”
Now Cousins will go back to doing what he’s done since the season started: prepare as if he’s going to start. If Griffin can’t play Sunday at Cleveland, then Cousins will have to play.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in Kirk,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “For me to put Kirk in that situation at the second team quarterback so early in his career kind of gives you an idea what I think of Kirk.”