Colt McCoy admitted he was a little bit rusty for his first few drives of Monday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys.
But when you're starting your first game at quarterback in almost three years — and on the largest of national stages — a little initial rust might be understandable.
The veteran McCoy eventually settled in at AT&T Stadium, however, knocking that rust off and turning in a quality performance to help lead the Redskins to their 20-17 overtime victory over the rival Cowboys.
"We found a way to win in the end and we found a way to play well in the second half, and we started converting on third downs and found a way to stay on the field, and that is huge against a football who is 6-1 and leading our division," McCoy said. "Huge team win for us on the road."
McCoy signed with the Redskins (3-5) this offseason to be their No. 3 quarterback, as he was supposed to play behind starter Robert Griffin III and backup Kirk Cousins and provide the two young signal callers with a veteran presence with starting experience in the league.
But, as the season wore on, McCoy slowly found himself moving up the depth chart.
In Week 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Griffin III suffered a dislocated left ankle that was going to sideline him for at least six to eight weeks.
In stepped Cousins, who performed masterfully in relief against the Jaguars in Washington's 41-10 victory, and then turned in another gem the following week against the Philadelphia Eagles, albeit in a losing effort.
In the next three and a half games, however, turnover problems would plague Cousins and the Redskins' offense, and the team entered its Week 7 game against the Tennessee Titans with a 1-5 record.
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden elected to go with McCoy for the second half of that Titans game, and the Texas product responded by completing 11-of-12 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown, and, most importantly, led the team on a last-minute drive that culminated in a Kai Forbath game-winning field goal as time expired to give Washington a 19-17 win.
With Griffin III returning to practice last week — but his status for the Cowboys game not going to be etched in stone until kickoff — Gruden said he was planning on going with McCoy as his starting quarterback against the Cowboys.
The plan played out as many expected. Griffin III was labeled as inactive 90 minutes before Monday's game, meaning McCoy would be making his first start since Dec. 8, 2011, when he played for the Cleveland Browns against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
That's a span of 1,054 days.
Again, it takes a while to shake off those cobwebs.
"It's Monday Night Football; he hasn't played in a while," Gruden said after the game. "Are his nerves going to get to him a little bit? And I think they did early a little bit."
So when did McCoy and the Redskins' offense begin to turn the tide?
It was in the first quarter, when the Washington defense forced and recovered a fumble at the Dallas 25-yard line, setting up a prime scoring opportunity.
But instead, McCoy would throw an ill-advised interception into double coverage, as he tried to find wide receiver Andre Roberts in the back corner of the end zone.
From that point forward, McCoy would only throw three more incompleted passes. He finished his night completing 25-of-30 throws for 299 yards and added a key seven-yard touchdown run late in the game.
"I felt like as the half went on, we got better and better and I started trusting everyone more and more," McCoy said. "I'll take a ton of the blame early in the game. I'm just thankful that we stuck with it and our offense kept plugging away and we made big plays at the end of the game."
Redskins running back Alfred Morris commended McCoy for stepping up when it mattered most on Monday.
"He had a lot of weight on his shoulders, but he didn't let that hold him down," said Morris, who finished with 73 yards rushing and a touchdown against the Cowboys. "He made plays with his legs as well as his arm. He just did a great job of stepping up, filling the shoes and finding a way to help us win."
Gruden and his staff will once again use this week's practices to determine if Griffin III is healthy enough to return Sunday, when the Redskins take on the Vikings in Minnesota.
But if he's not able to go, McCoy said he won't change a thing about his preparation leading into the matchup.
"I prepare as if I'm the starter, whether I'm playing or not," McCoy said when asked if he thought he's earned another start. "That decision is not my decision. I'm a team player and I'm going to do whatever they ask me to do."