December 16, 2013
Different quarterback, same results.
Controversy swarmed the Washington Redskins this week, after head coach Mike Shanahan made the decision to bench Robert Griffin III for the rest of the season. Though he cited the star quarterback’s health as the reason, many felt it was a move of defiance against owner Daniel Snyder.
Whatever the reason, Cousins started Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, who at 3-10 have been as equally dismal as the Skins this season. On paper, the back-up QB had an impressive game, passing for 381 yards and three touchdowns. But he also committed three turnovers–a fumble and two interceptions–which proved costly in the Skins’ 27-26 loss.
“Numbers, at the end of the day, don’t really mean a lot to me,” Cousins said afterwards. “Playing in the Big Ten at Michigan State it wasn’t about numbers. It was about winning. It was about getting the championship. And it’s the same thing here. It’s about winning.”
Unfortunately, seven turnovers and a failed two-point conversion led the Redskins to their sixth straight loss. “You can’t make that many mistakes and win a football game,” Shanahan said.
While the Skins didn’t come away with the win, they did mount an honorable fourth quarter rally to put themselves back in the game. Trailing 27-20, Cousins drove his team down the field and scored a touchdown to cut the deficit to one. An extra point would have tied the game and likely forced overtime. But instead of going the safe route, Shanahan called for a two-point try with just 18 seconds on the clock.
The pass was broken up, handing the Skins their sixth straight loss. They now fall to 3-11 on the season–the worst record in the NFL. If they don’t win another game for the rest of the season, Washington will be 3-13 for the first time since 1994.
Despite the devastating ending to the game, Redskins players unanimously agreed with Shanahan’s gutsy call.
“We were all egging Coach on to do it,” linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “We all had a lot of confidence. It just didn’t fall our way. But I’m very proud of the way guys fought.”
Wide receiver Pierre Garcon agreed. “We liked the play. I was all for it.”
The last time the Capitals faced the Flyers, it wasn’t pretty.
Though the Capitals routed the Flyers 7-0 in their November 1st meeting, both goalies–Braden Holtby for the Caps and Ray Emery for the Flyers, got into a fight that resulted in a line brawl. Both players were on the bench for Sunday night’s game, which ended with a shootout instead of a knockout.
After trailing 4-1 in the third period, Washington scored three goals in the final 10 minutes of regulation to tie the game and force a shootout. Mike Green got the rally going with a snapshot midway through the third, followed five minutes later by a goal from Dmitry Orlov. Alex Ovechkin’s league-leading 27th goal tied the game in the final minute of regulation.
“I think we had luck on our side today, especially at the end of the game,” Ovechkin said. “I’ll take it and the team will take it.”
The Caps went on to win in an overtime shootout, beating the Flyers 5-4. Eric Fehr and Nicklas Backstrom scored for Washington, while Claude Giroux scored the lone goal for the Flyers. The Capitals have yet to lose to Philadelphia this season.
The two teams will meet again Tuesday evening, this time on the road at Wells Fargo Center.