Reporting Chuck Carroll
CLEVELAND (CBSDC) — Entering the week the Washington Redskins were slightly favored against the Cleveland Browns. As word spread Robert Griffin III would not play, the tables turned and Cleveland surged ahead as four-point favorites.
Kirk Cousins would hear none of it.
In the first start of his NFL carer, Cousins guided the Redskins to a convincing 38-21 road victory and first place in the NFC East with two games remaining in the regular season.
Washington now controls their playoff destiny by virtue of the Atlanta Falcons shellacking of the New York Giants.
Cousins, who showed a propensity to throw low at points, performed admirably in his first NFL start. The Michigan State product finished 26-of-37 for 329 yards with two touchdowns, an interception and a passer rating of 104.4.
By comparison, Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden was 21-of-35 for 244 yards, with one score and two picks for a passer rating of 66.8.
With or without Griffin, Pierre Garcon proved to be Washington’s premiere receiver. The big offseason acquisition caught six passes for 65 yards.
Two of Leonard Hankerson’s three receptions were touchdowns, including a 54-yarder that jump-started lethargic Washington offense late in the first quarter.
Alfred Morris continues to etch his name in the annals of Redskins history. Morris eclipsed Skip Hicks’ franchise record for most rushing touchdowns by a rookie (8). The sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic now has nine rushing scores on the season.
Cleveland’s front seven prevented Morris from finding the second-level for the bulk of the afternoon, snapping a run of three consecutive games with 100 yards rushing or more. He finished the afternoon with 87 yards on 27 carries to compliment his scores.
Evan Royster, who has been used sparingly this season, rumbled in from four yards for his first score since Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers.
Griffin worked out stringently prior to kickoff, but was placed on the inactive list as the team opted to protect his mildly sprained LCL. Rex Grossman dressed for the first time this season.
Undoubtedly disappointed he was on the sidelines, but not distraught, Griffin enthusiastically embraced Mike Shanahan after the win
Rob Jackson and London Fletcher each picked off a struggling Weeden.
NOTES: Offensive lineman Tyler Polumbus and Will Montgomery exited the game with injury in the second half.