WASHINGTON — After a seven-hour flight and a meticulously planned timezone adjustment, the Redskins battled the Bengals for 75 minutes in London, all to come away with an unsatisfying stalemate.
Should the NFL do away with ties?
“Well, I’ll tell you this. It’s tough to walk away from a game like that with a tie, where we fly all the way over there and all the logistics that it took, to then just walk away and feel like you technically didn’t really do anything, good or bad, to move forward in your season,” Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins told Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier Monday on 106.7 The Fan’s Under Center, driven by the Lindsay Automotive Group.
“At the same time,” he said, “when you look into the eyes of these guys on the offensive line, and our running backs, and our receivers and the defensive players, I mean guys are just laying it on the line, and the physicality, the violence, the competition that’s going on on the field, to play an extra 15 minutes and then say, ‘Okay. We’re going to play another 15 minutes,’ eventually, I think there is an element of, look, these guys are beat up and if you keep playing, you may cause problems for the rest of the entire season for these teams because of what could happen as these guys’ bodies wear down over the course of the game.
“So I think there’s something to be said for calling it quits, just because of the health and safety of guys and all that they’re putting their bodies through, but, boy, it’s tough to go all the way to London and come all the way back and feel like we didn’t really move in any direction, forward or backward.”
Cousins was then asked if the NFL should model its overtime after the NCAA, which would mean, instead of playing a fifth quarter, the NFL’s current structure, teams would instead play a series of alternating drives, each starting from the defense’s 25-yard line, until one team comes away with more points than their opponent on a given series of drives.
“Yeah, I think it’s something to consider,” Cousins said. “I’m sure it’s come up many, many times before and there’s a reason that it’s never been pushed through to become the way to do it. But there were also times in college where I played in overtime games, and you just felt like getting the ball on the 25 and seeing who could score, or who had the best field goal kicker, wasn’t really a true representation of the game as a whole.
“And sometimes I felt like, walking away — even winning or losing in overtime in college — that just give a team the ball on the 25, I mean, you’ve got to make them earn it, you know, make ’em have to go the length of the field and play football, as opposed to just saying, ‘Okay. Who has a better red zone offense? Who has a better field goal kicker? Who has a better three or four plays right here in this moment?'”
“So I did think, yesterday, the overtime does give an accurate picture of trying to find who the better football team is when you make ’em have to play true football and drive the length of the field,” he said.
Cousins, who completed 38 passes for 458 yards and two touchdowns, had his most dominant game as a passer this season. He even completed 67.8 percent of those throws, despite having to throw the ball a season-high 56 times. Although, from looking at the score during the game, the thought of the offense being so productive hadn’t dawned on Cousins until afterwards.
“The last couple of weeks I really had no clue statistically what we were doing until I walked back in the locker room and get the word at the end of the game,” he said. “I knew we hit some plays here or there, but you’re just in the flow of the game and you’re taking it one play at a time and you’re kind of just thinking of that one play. And I really had no concept of how much production we had.
“Again, I always look at it as points, and so I don’t see 27 points as being 45 points where you’re saying, ‘Boy, we’re really clicking and we’re pouring it on.’ We were moving the football.”
“You kind of look back and you’re like we’re not really punting, you know. We’re not having three-and-outs that often,” he continued. “We’re getting the football and we’re moving down the field. They’re not always ending in touchdowns, but when you’re not punting much and you’re staying on the field and you’re getting across midfield, usually that’s a good sign that your offense is doing good things and things are clicking.”
On the team’s rigorous timezone adjustment, the Redskins’ plan for getting acclimated involved not allowing for players to go to bed immediately after their overnight flight landed. Instead, they went straight to the hotel, dropped off their bags, and then headed to a team meeting, and then practiced. Their first chance to have a normal night’s sleep came Friday evening, patterned after a normal day on London time.
Guys were understandably sluggish during that first practice, so Cousins says he had to rally the troops.
“We were pretty dead and tired,” he said. “So we kind of called the guys up right before that practice and said, ‘Look. Like I know we’re dragging, but we can’t afford for this practice to be halfhearted. We can’t afford to just go through the motions. This is an important part of our preparation and we need to be all here.’ And we really did feel like the physically, mentally and emotionally tougher team was going to win the game, so we said let’s start that right now on Friday with the practice we have right now, putting everything else aside and just locking in.
“We had a good practice, kind of pushed through it, but it was tough to do that with how we felt, and then I just tried to stay up the rest of the day on Friday to get used to the timezone and then went to bed at a normal hour on Friday night.”