The quarterback threw for 458 yards and made some Redskins history in the process during the team's 27-27 tie to the Bengals at Wembley Stadium.
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins always prepares himself to encounter emotionally volatile situations when he steps onto the field, an expectation that favored him well and calmed his nerves throughout the team's topsy-turvy 27-27 overtime tie with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
"I think you go into games and moments in overtime saying, 'This is about to be a roller coaster. This is going to go up and down,'" Cousins said.
And so it did. In front of a raucous, sold-out crowd at London's Wembley Stadium, Cousins not only helped lead his team to the first overtime -- and draw -- in International Series history, but set a series of milestones, achievements and personal bests along the way.
While struggles in the red zone persisted, and while a tie leaves a team regretting each of their opportunities lost, Cousins had one of the best statistical games of his career. He completed 38-of-56 passes for 458 yards along with two touchdowns and one interception, guiding the offense to 546 total yards and averaging 6.2 yards per play.
"I think we had 500, 600 yards of offense today. That's pretty good," Cousins said. "Guys made some unbelievable plays and if we don't do that against the Vikings, then I think the narrative is going to be that our offense is sputtering and we're not doing enough. So it's so much week to week, but we certainly did a lot from a yards perspective today."
Cousins' 38 completions set a team record, passing his own previous mark of 33 last season against Tampa Bay while his 458 passing yards were the second-most in a single game in team history, trailing only Brad Johnson's 471-yard performance in 1999.
His* *pass attempts, completions and passing yards were all the most in Wembley Stadium history, and Cousins' 16th 300-yard passing game, including postseason play, tied Sonny Jurgensen for the most 300-yard passing games in team history.
"I think Kirk did a great job today," head coach Jay Gruden said. "I think it was one of the better games he's played since I've been here, so hats off to him and the offense. They did some great things, but you're right, we do need to get some bigger plays."
Through eight games, Cousins has thrown for 2,454 yards, putting him on pace for close to 5,000 yards on the season. He had some help on Sunday with the return of tight end Jordan Reed, who collected nine receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown after missing the previous two games with a concussion.
What has helped add to some of Cousins' numbers has been the playmaking ability of the Redskins' receiving weapons. Reed's 23-yard touchdown catch was the result of a 7-yard pass that the tight end then managed to extend 16 more yards by cutting back towards the middle of the field and diving over the goal line. He found similar extended plays with wide receiver Jamison Crowder (109 yards receiving and a touchdown), tight end Vernon Davis (93 yards receiving) and wide receiver Pierre Garçon (67 yards receiving), each of whom presented their own logistical challenges for Bengals defenders.
Cousins' lone interception came on a deep pass play that was overthrown to wide receiver DeSean Jackson on third down, which ended up working like a punt, as safety George Iloka was tackled immediately on the Bengals' 14-yard line.
Otherwise, Cousins remained poised as the game progressed, making some clutch throws and using a productive running game, with Robert Kelley making his first start, to his advantage. One of his biggest throws came with the Redskins trailing by three points with just less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter. Facing a third-and-13 situation, Cousins stayed in the pocket while taking a major hit and muscled a pass to the sideline where Crowder caught the ball just before the first down marker, made a move and gained an extra seven yards. That set up Washington for a game-tying field goal and helped send the game to overtime.
The lack of victory and the absence of defeat ensured that Cousins would enter the bye week without a strong emotion – content with an explosive offensive performance, frustrated by more missed opportunities, eager to fulfill them during second half of the season.
"It's a unique experience, but now we move forward," Cousins said of the tie. "I think that's the key is that you always look towards what's next -- what's the next challenge? We don't live in the past in this league, so it is what it is and what I'm proud of is the fact that so many guys laid it on the line and gave us everything they had and I was proud of the effort and the mental and physical toughness that guys showed through the course of the game.