Aaron Rodgers was really, really good on Sunday night.
Kirk Cousins was even better.
One of the most fascinating subplots of the 2016 NFL season was Cousins playing on the franchise tag for the Washington Redskins this season. Then Washington would have to figure out what to do after the season. After Cousins had a bad game with a terrible interception against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2, it seemed like the Redskins were smart to not invest long term into Cousins.
Since then, Cousins and the Redskins have been very good. Washington pulled away from the Green Bay Packers for an impressive 42-24 win, keeping them within shouting distance of the 9-1 Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East. Washington is 6-3-1 and plays at Dallas on Thanksgiving.
The most impressive part of Cousins’ night came in the fourth quarter. Going against a fairly strong wind, Washington still gave Cousins chances to throw deep, and he hit some huge plays. He hit Pierre Garcon for a 70-yard touchdown. On third-and-7, with the Packers trailing by just five points, Cousins hit Jamison Crowder for 53 yards. That set up a 1-yard touchdown to put Washington ahead 35-24.
Everyone has been talking about the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East, but Washington has been very good too. Since that 0-2 start, Washington is 6-1-1. One loss in that stretch came on a Detroit Lions touchdown with 16 seconds left. The tie happened because Washington missed a short field goal in overtime against Cincinnati. That’s how close the Redskins are to being perfect since Week 2.
Cousins has been a huge part of this successful stretch for Washington. The Packers are depleted in the secondary, and Clay Matthews was playing at less than full strength, but that doesn’t diminish everything Cousins did on Sunday night. He made some huge throws when Rodgers was rallying the Packers. Rodgers looked as good as he has looked in many months, completing 26-of-41 passes for 355 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. And Cousins was 21 of 30 for 375 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Maybe Cousins’ degree of difficulty was easier because he was facing Green Bay’s injured secondary, but it’s still pretty impressive how he matched Rodgers punch-for-punch.
At this point, it seems clear that Washington is going to figure out a way to get Cousins that long-term contract. If the Redskins don’t, someone will. Cousins has 16 touchdowns and four interceptions since those first two games this season. He looks like one of the NFL’s better starters.
On Sunday night, even with Rodgers playing a fantastic game, Cousins outplayed him. Get ready to pay him, Washington.
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