The Cleveland Browns faced a Washington Redskins rookie quarterback who used the running game as a weapon on Sunday afternoon, but it was Kirk Cousins and not Robert Griffin III who controlled the offense.
With Griffin out of the lineup because of a knee injury, Cousins utilized multiple play-action fakes and bootlegs in leading the Redskins to a 38-21 victory over the Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Cousins rushed for 22 yards on three carries and completed 26 of 37 attempts for 329 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the win over the Browns.
“We practiced against it all week,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “They were very effective with it. They are a very effective boot and naked team. They do a nice job with the off-tackle run game, which really lends itself to that play-action. They made a play on it.
“There were times when we had decent coverage and Kirk made nice throws. Anytime you have the quarterback on the perimeter, if you over-commit to one or the other, then, he runs, which he got a couple runs on us. I don’t think it was a matter of the fact that we didn’t prepare for it or adjust to it. I think they did a nice job.”
The Browns’ defensive players were quick to credit Cousins, who threw for more than 300 yards in his first career NFL start.
“He’s a good quarterback,” defensive lineman
While Cousins threw for 329 yards and was directly responsible for 351 yards of total offense in the win, rookie running back Alfred Morris contributed 87 yards and two touchdowns on 27 rushing attempts.
“It was a heavy run fake and it can get you,” Browns defensive lineman Phil Taylor said. “If it gets you, it gets you big. We’ve just got to work on it more. We have to get it corrected. They took what we gave them. It’s as simple as that. We’ve got to go out there and correct the mistakes.”
Sheard added, “We know what we’re doing. They just made some plays. We knew they ran the boot, but they did a good job of disguising it.”
The Browns lost safety T.J. Ward and defensive end
“Those are two guys we’ll have to evaluate as we go,” Shurmur said. “We’ll see what happens overnight and how extensive they may be.”
TURNING IT OVER
The Browns did not have a turnover in the first half, but on the second play of the third quarter, Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson intercepted quarterback
“It’s safe to say this was a team loss,” Shurmur said. “They scored twice off those two interceptions and then, stretched the lead out. I thought we struggled to move the ball effectively throughout the game. I have to credit them for doing that. We knew coming in it would be a challenge.”
Browns running back
The run allowed Richardson to break two Browns rookie records. Richardson broke a first-place tie with Pro Football Hall of Famer, Jim Brown, who had nine rushing touchdowns in his rookie season of 1957. He also broke a three-way tie with Brown and Eric Metcalf for the most combined touchdowns by a Browns rookie. Both Brown and Metcalf had 10 touchdowns in their rookie seasons with the Browns.
Richardson added a second rushing touchdown with 1:11 left in the second quarter.
“It means a lot, but we still lost at the end of the day, so it doesn’t mean anything,” Richardson said. “In the long run, I’m going to sit back and think about it, but right now, I have a 24-hour rule. I’m not down about the game, but I’m very upset about this game. It didn’t really mean as much without the ‘W.’”
On Friday morning, 26 teachers and students were killed in a school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Prior to the game, the Browns and teams around the league held a moment of silence for the victims of the tragedy.
“We’d like to send out our thoughts and prayers to everyone that was directly involved,” Shurmur said. “I think we all know that in some indirect way, we’re all involved. If we can learn anything from it, let’s not leave anything unsaid. If you’ve an opportunity to hug your child, let’s not let anything go because tomorrow and anything happening tomorrow is not guaranteed.“Sometimes, we get wrapped up in our issues of the day. I think it’s very important that the folks there know that we’re thinking about them.”