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5 Lessons Learned from Redskins Loss to Falcons

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Kirk Cousins passes against the Atlanta Falcons. (credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Kirk Cousins passes against the Atlanta Falcons. (credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

ATLANTA — Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins feels fortunate that he has two more starts to correct his mistakes.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is just happy to finally get another win.

Making his second career start, Cousins took over for the benched Robert Griffin III and passed for 381 yards and three touchdowns.

But he also accounted for three of Washington’s seven turnovers and said he was the biggest reason the Redskins lost 27-26 to Atlanta on Sunday.

Cousins likewise was disappointed in himself for failing to convert a two-point conversion pass in the game’s final seconds.

“Those are four plays right there, if they go differently, it was probably a much better result,” Cousins said. “It’s a tough one to swallow right now, and we’ll learn from it and get better”

Ryan was more efficient, completing 29 of 38 passes to overcome an interception late in the second quarter and a fourth-and-goal stop at the 1 when Steven Jackson got stuffed for no gain.

The Falcons (4-10) rallied two snaps later on a 2-yard run by Jackson that made it 24-20. Cousins set up the Atlanta TD when he was picked off by safety William Moore.

“I thought we did a great job of capitalizing on that one,” Ryan said. “We had a ton of chances today, offensively, to play with a short field. We took advantage of some. We didn’t on others, but it feels good to get the win.”

Here are five things to know after the game:

TURN IT OVER AND OVER: In extending its losing streak to six games, Washington (3-11) wrecked its chances with seven giveaways.

Alfred Morris and Santana Moss each lost two fumbles as the Redskins matched a franchise mark with their most turnovers in a single game since Oct. 30, 1988, against the Houston Oilers.

Despite rushing 18 times for an average of 5.4 yards per carry, Morris lost the ball deep in Atlanta territory in the second and fourth quarters.

And during a 5-minute span of the second, Moss muffed a punt return at the Washington 14 before allowing cornerback Robert McClain to knock the ball out at the Atlanta 9.

The Redskins have committed 29 turnovers this year. In 16 games last season, they had 14.

Atlanta began the day with just 12 takeaways, third-fewest in the league, but finished with its most in a single game since Nov. 6, 1988, against Green Bay.

SAFETIES SOLID, NOT PERFECT: Moore had five tackles, one fumble recovery, one interception and one pass defended. Free safety Zeke Motta, replacing injured starter Thomas DeCoud, combined for five tackles and one pass defended.

But both blew assignments in the second quarter. Moore was out of position when wideout Aldrick Robinson caught a 62-yard pass against Robert Alford. Motta looked confused and couldn’t help on Pierre Garcon’s 53-yard TD reception.

Mistakes aside, Atlanta coach Mike Smith was delighted when Moore set up Jackson’s go-ahead TD in a sloppy three-play sequence by each team’s offense.

“It was time for a big play,” Smith said. “They were taking a shot, and William was in the right place.”

SECOND-HALF BLUES: The Redskins led 20-17 at intermission, but stumbled in the second half, either committing a turnover or going three-and-out until their final drive.

Cousins and his receivers covered 85 yards on 10-for-13 passing on Washington’s last possession. Moss’ 3-yard catch cut the lead to 27-26, but the conversion pass to Garcon hit the turf.

“My initial reaction is that I had both Josh Morgan open on an off-schedule play, and if I’d set my feet, I may have been able to drill it into Pierre,” Cousins said. “That’s a play that I clearly didn’t have a good enough feel for, and I need to go back and get better at it. “

SHINING BRIGHTLY: Falcons rookie cornerback Desmond Trufant was beaten on Cousins’ 53-yard TD pass in the second quarter, but the first-round draft pick redeemed himself in the fourth when he beat Garcon to the ball at the Washington 39.

Trufant closed the game by batting down the conversion pass for his 17th pass breakup this season.

“I was telling myself I had to make a big play after the one I gave up,” he said. “I didn’t want to end the game on that note, so I just kept fighting and did what I had to do to help get the win.”

STILL THE ONE: Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez joined Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and Isaac Bruce as the only NFL players with 15,000 yards receiving.

Gonzalez, the league’s No. 2 career-leading receiver, said last March that he will retire when the season ends. As his latest achievement was announced to the Georgia Dome crowd in the third quarter, Gonzalez waved to acknowledge a standing ovation.

“Every time I get a catch now, it seems like they’re saying something like, ‘That’s another milestone,’ ” he said. “I guess that’s what happens when you get old when you’re playing as long as I am, but I’ll take it. It’s been such a great ride for me.”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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