Monday, August 18, 2014

Redskins-Browns flashback: Kirk Cousins makes splash

It's football flashback time at the new Cary's Comics Craze!

In honor of my Washington Redskins taking on the Cleveland Browns at home tonight, here's my take on the Dec. 16, 2012 game between the 'Skins and Browns in Cleveland, which I had the honor of attending. Redskins Nation will remember this is the game in which back-up quarterback Kirk Cousins went from embarrassing in two consecutive drives to suddenly "wow!" in one game on the way to putting a 38-21 whooping on the Browns.

That victory — which was much more lopsided than even the final score indicates — was what helped propel Washington to the NFC East title that season and into the playoffs. That single game also put all of the NFL on notice as Cousins being the back-up QB every team and fantasy football fan wanted — including those in the Cleveland area!

And no comic book fans, I haven't forgotten about covering comics, trade paperbacks, films and animated projects. What can I say but I've been in full-out "Hail to the Redskins!" mode gearing up for tonight's nationally televised preseason game?! #HTTR

Without further ado …!

Kirk Cousins impressive in first NFL start
(first posted Dec. 17, 2012 on the original Cary's Comics Craze — 
Back-up QB Kirk Cousins gets some love from RGIII in 2012.

CLEVELAND — First, let’s quickly address the RGIII issue.

Was I disappointed I didn’t see my man Robert Griffin III play? Sure.

But I was tickled maroon and gold to see my Washington Redskins deliver a 38-21 beat-down of the Cleveland Browns in person Sunday. Thanks to the 34-0 embarrassment the Atlanta Falcons gave the New York Giants, the ‘Skins now control the NFC East. Not to mention their playoff destiny.

To my friends here who are Browns fans, I’d like to say I’m sorry your team’s loss came at the hands of my team — but I’d be lying.

Let’s face facts; for the Browns, this loss hurts on several levels. Not only did they blow a 14-10 halftime lead, the loss ensures another losing season and puts the final nail in the coffin for coach Pat Shurmur getting fired.

Sunday was an exciting afternoon for the Redskins and their fans.

(Photo credit: David Richard/USA Today Sports)
But it doesn’t compare to the afternoon rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins had. He completed 26 of 37 passes and threw two touchdowns. He also managed to average 7.3 yards on the ground, gaining 22 yards on three carries. Before the beginning of the 4 o’clock games, he was ranked the No. 1 QB in the fantasy league.

Those are impressive statistics for any quarterback — much less one who was making his first career start in the NFL.

“It’s a game I’ll remember for a long time,” Cousins told the press afterward.

He certainly should. This was a huge win for Cousins and the ‘Skins.

The scenario before the game was nothing but tough, if not dire — not just for Cousins, but the entire Redskins team. They were on a four-game winning streak and needed a win to stay in the playoff hunt. The ‘Skins were playing an away game against the Browns, who had won three games in a row and had an outside chance for some postseason action. And the Redskins had lost their star quarterback, Griffin — a certain Rookie of the Year candidate, a player so special THE (CLEVELAND) PLAIN DEALER called him the equivalent of “LeBron in cleats” — to a sprained foot.

Sure, Cousins looked dynamic in Week 14 when he came in late for Griffin and threw a couple sweet passes and the touchdown that tied the game against the Baltimore Ravens. The clutch quarterback even ran in the two-point conversion. The ‘Skins won in overtime, but how would Cousins do in his first NFL start in an away game with playoff hopes on the line?

Early in the first quarter, things looked ugly for the ‘Skins. Very ugly. Cousins had minus-5 yards passing and the team hadn’t gained anything on the ground. Having gone three-and-out in two straight series, Cousins threw an interception that led to the Browns scoring a quick touchdown.

 Down 7-0, Cousins got the entire Browns defense to bite on a fake handoff to the right. It had virtually the entire defensive unit running to one side of the field.

Cousins scrambled to the opposite side, squared his shoulders and delivered a 54-yard bomb to Leonard Hankerson. The wide receiver, who fell but wasn’t touched or tackled after catching the ball, got to his feet and ran the last five or so yards into the endzone. NBC’s Football Night in America ranked the play No. 2 in its top-seven plays of the day.

(Photo credit: David Richard/USA Today Sports)
In the second half, the ‘Skins simply poured it on and scored 28 points in the last two quarters.

Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler, who generously took me to the game, had it right; the Redskins never their foot off the accelerator in the second half. In fact, the ‘Skins ended the game with Cousins taking a knee on the Browns’ 2-yard line — and that was after converting moments earlier on a fourth and 2 at about the 7.

Here’s what makes this story even sweeter.

Russ and I were sitting beside two guys, David and Mike, who are good friends with Cousins. They have known him since high school in Michigan and traveled to see at least two other Redskins games this season. David and Mike shared how Griffin has a bigger arm than their friend, but Cousins has something RGIII doesn’t: “Pinpoint accuracy,” in their words. (And that’s saying something, considering I’ve seen Griffin thread some needles between defenders and complete passes he had no right to.)

The trio of friends had talked before the game. I asked them if Cousins was nervous; they said “a little.” Cousins obviously shook off the case of the nerves. By the end of the game, he looked like a seasoned veteran. That young quarterback has a bright future in the NFL.

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