A return to FedEx Field was all the medicine the Washington Redskins needed to return to the win column. Following a 26-20 victory over the reeling Minnesota Vikings, quarterback Kirk Cousins and head coach Jay Gruden spoke to the media. Here are the highlights:
With 3:54 left to play in the second quarter, Washington was forced to punt up 14-7 after an incomplete pass intended for Ryan Grant on third-and-10. There was no defensive pass interference penalty on the play that featured some contact coupled with Grant slipping. Cousins was displeased, to say the least. The Washington quarterback sprinted down the field to speak to the referee and put his hands on his helmet in disbelief during the conversation. Gruden and Cousins explained the rare display of emotion.
"Yeah, it's an emotional game and he thought he saw something," Gruden said of Cousins. "It's good, Kirk played with a lot of poise today, played with a lot of energy, played with a lot of passion. He always does. He just keeps it within himself. We hear it on the sideline from time to time. He just doesn't show his emotions very often. That's a rare occurrence. Love the way he played and competed. He did a great job."
"It's a big play in the game," Cousins said. "I want to win, and penalties, not calling penalties have an enormous impact on the outcome of the football game and I thought we had a chance at one there that would have kept us on the field, kept us driving and put us in better field position. Didn't get it, so I just wanted to voice my opinion and that was that."
If you had Matt Jones as a healthy scratch to start the second half of the season, kudos to you. After an 87-yard and one-score performance in London two weeks ago, Robert Kelley rushed for 97 yards on 22 carries (4.4 yards per carry) against Minnesota. But Cousins praised the Tulane product for more than his ground game. That same quality is what we at Breaking Burgundy saw two months ago to make us think Kelley could get playing time.
"I thought he ran really, really well," Cousins said of Kelley. "Not surprised. I thought he did the same thing against the Bengals. He just picked up where he left off, was phenomenal all day. Was very pleased with the way he ran the football. Can't say enough good things about his effort and the way he produced for us. His approach to the game, he stepped up and had a big pick up in pass protection as well on a conversion on a throw. Some of those plays are unseen that are making a big difference for us as well."
On the play before the Redskins grabbed a 7-0 lead, Cousins made a risky and questionable throw into coverage that would have been intercepted if not for colliding defenders. The quarterback explained what led up to the throw.
"I felt Jordan (Reed) had a step on a shallow cross. Was trying to get it to him and right at that moment I was trying to get it to him, I couldn't get the ball out clean because of the rush right there. It all happened so fast. You see it and you want to throw it and from the moment you see it to the moment the ball leaves your hand, I felt that push and couldn't get enough behind it the way I wanted to."
On Cousins' second touchdown of the game, a 38-yard strike to Vernon Davis, many noticed Jordan Reed was more open than his fellow tight end and were surprised he did not get the ball instead. Cousins alluded that he did not expect Reed to be there, which may explain why he did not throw it in his direction.
On a lighter note, Cousins retorted, "You're about to jinx me, man," after a reporter commented on the QB's durability through his first two seasons as a starter. Cousins promptly knocked on the wooden podium and explained how his offseason training as well as getting the ball out of his hand quickly are key.
In five of the last six games, the Redskins' defense has held the opposing offense to 20 points or fewer. With the talents Washington has on offense, that is usually a good recipe for success. Besides the last six minutes of the first half, the defense played well and Gruden gave them credit for it.
"At the end of the half, obviously we were not very happy, were not very pleased, but shut them out in the second half. That's big. The big drive at the end of the game to get the stop -- Preston Smith with the sack, Preston's interception (on) back-to-back series, which was huge. Credit the defense; they did a great job sticking with the plan. Not getting to down on each other, making good sound tackles and doing a good job."
Gruden was also proud of the play from Ty Nsekhe, filling in for Trent Williams; wide receiver Maurice Harris, partially filling in for DeSean Jackson; and Dustin Hopkins for making all four of his field goal attempts.
Gruden announced that there were no major injuries of note. Morgan Moses re-injured his ankle but was able to return to the game. Davis fell on the football, which knocked the wind out of him briefly.
Follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.
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