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Shutdown Corner

Kirk Cousins makes big plays when needed in Redskins’ thrilling overtime victory

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

Washington Redskins fans, you might have your answer to the Armageddon question: What happens if Robert Griffin III gets injured when the team is in the middle of the playoff hunt? RG3 was hurt when tackled by Baltimore's Haloti Ngata with 1:57 left in Sunday's Beltway bash-up. It didn't look good for the Redskins, who were down 28-20 and at their own 40-yard line.

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Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins, also a rookie, came in for one play and threw an incompletion to receiver Pierre Garcon. Ravens cornerback Chris Johnson was busted for pass interference, however, and that moved the ball to the Washington 47. Griffin then came back into the game and completed passes to Garcon and Santana Moss that put the 'Skins at the Baltimore 16.

However, it was clear that Griffin's knee was bothering him — he limped to the line of scrimmage on his last play of the game, an incompletion that Griffin was busted for intentional grounding following a botched snap. Griffin fell to the ground and waved for the team trainers, who had to help him off the field.

So, Cousins came back in ... and what did the unheralded fourth-round pick from Michigan State do? Oh, not much. He hit Leonard Hankerson for a 15-yard gain, found Garcon in the end zone for the touchdown that made the score 28-26 in Baltimore's favor, and then ran in the two-point conversion. Small sample size to be sure, but RG3 couldn't have done any better. Cousins was 2 of 2 for 26 yards, that passing touchdown, and the two-pointer.

The Ravens went three-and-out in their overtime drive, which set the controls to sudden death. Rookie Richard Crawford returned the corresponding punt 64 yards to set up Kai Forbath's 34-yard field goal, and the 7-6 Redskins stayed alive in the race for a playoff spot, and a possible run at an NFC East title

Per ESPN's Stats & Info, Cousins became the first non-starting quarterback to throw a game-tying touchdown pass in regulation, and go on to win in overtime, since Derek Anderson did it for the Cleveland Browns in 2006. And Derek Anderson didn't bag a two-point conversion for bragging rights.

"He's ice," receiver Josh Morgan said of Cousins. "Like they used to say about Larry Bird, he's got ice water in his veins. That's the best thing you can say about Kirk. He was coming like nothing was even going on."

When reviewing Cousins' game tape pre-draft, I was impressed by his football acumen, though I felt that he'd have to learn to read defenses more expertly at the NFL. Preseason work with quarterback guru Chris Weinke paid off, and Cousins looked great at the 2012 scouting combine.

Griffin joked about his knee injury after the game — "I screamed ... like a man, of course," he said after the game. Everyone will be holding their collective breath in D.C. until the MRI results are in Monday, but even if RG3 has to miss any time, the Redskins might be in good shape with their backup.

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