Kirk Cousins and the Washington offense could not keep up with the dominant Minnesota defense in crunch time, leading to a second-straight home loss.
Despite defensive troubles and inconsistencies on offense, the arm of quarterback Kirk Cousins cut through the brisk November air in FedExField, but could not bring the Washington Redskins back from the brink of defeat in a 38-30 loss on Sunday.
Cousins tossed for 327 yards, three yards shy of his season high. Cousins also ran for two touchdowns on a pair of quarterback sneaks at the goal line, something he hasn't done since the 2016 season.
Cousins opened the game with a near-perfect pass to wide receiver Maurice Harris.
Fresh off the practice squad, Harris laid out for a one-handed grab while fighting off cornerback Trae Waynes with his other hand. The 36-yard touchdown, after debate and eventual confirmation by the officials, put the Redskins up on their first drive.
Cousins said the acrobatics of Harris were far from surprising, and that the two have been developing a chemistry during his short time practicing with the first-team offense.
"He's been doing that in practice now, made one earlier this week that was a top-10 type play, a one-handed catch so it wasn't too much of a surprise to us," Cousins said. "We were so excited to have him become activated because he has practiced at a level that was deserving of that."
During Washington's next drive, Cousins fired to running back Chris Thompson, who evaded a pursuing linebacker and became wide-open for a 27-yard catch-and-run on fourth down, eventually setting up a Nick Rose field goal.
Head coach Jay Gruden then dialed up the running game after tailback Rob Kelley left the field with an injury.
Thompson and rookie running back Samaje Perine combined for six straight running plays, and the Vikings' defense looked prepared to stuff a seventh attempt. However, out of the shotgun, Cousins found receiver Jamison Crowder streaking across the middle of the field without a Minnesota defender in sight. Crowder took the pass an extra 13 yards, putting the Redskins in the red zone for the third time that day.
On third-and-goal, Cousins took matters into his own hands, leaning on the backs of his offensive line and barely sneaking across the goal line to put the Redskins up by three.
Moments before the half ended, Minnesota reclaimed the lead. Cousins and the offense took to the field to even the score before time expired, but one misthrow dashed those hopes in a matter of seconds.
Instead of finding Crowder near the sideline, Cousins instead floated the ball too high in the direction of cornerback Alexander Mackensie, who grabbed the easy interception. Minnesota's offense capitalized off Cousins' mistake, furthering their lead to 11 before the half.
"That is the challenge of playing this position, you put the ball in the air 45 times, you're making split-second decisions," Cousins said. "There was trash at my feet all game long and one play, one throw that's a foot too high can be many times the difference in the entire game."
His lone turnover indeed made an impact on the game, as the Redskins were forced to play catchup for the entire second half. Cousins aired it out 45 times, his most attempts since December of 2016.
The Washington defense kept Cousins and the offense in the game for most of the second half, with safety D.J. Swearinger coming up with two interceptions, one of which he returned near the goal line. However, the Redskins scored a touchdown just once off these opportunities. The Redskins attempted to convert a fourth down three times down the stretch but came up short twice.
"It's a unique game to come away from. I rarely play a game where I felt like we had everything we wanted offensively throughout the entirety of the game," Cousins said. "There was no ball or stretch where I felt like we couldn't move the ball and yet no matter what we did, it still felt like we weren't doing enough."