While the first-team offense struggled to match what their defensive counterparts did early against the Bills, Kirk Cousins eventually got the unit into a groove with three touchdowns.
Kirk Cousins wanted to stay patient on a night the Washington Redskins struggled to move the ball through much of the first half of team's preseason Week 3 matchup with the Buffalo Bills at FedExField.
Getting his first game action in more than two weeks, Cousins led an offensive unit that was at near full strength outside of running backs Matt Jones and Chris Thompson.
But the offense did not look like the same group that put up yards and touchdowns in bunches last season. Through the first four drives, the Redskins mustered just 48 yards and three first downs.
The first drive ended with an interception with the second a 55-yard missed field goal by Dustin Hopkins. Then Tress Way appeared for back-to-back punts on the team's third and fourth drives.
Cousins was particularly strong at protecting the ball at FedExField last season, but Bills cornerback Corey White made an impressive interception grab while on his back after the quarterback tried to move the ball through the air on 1st-and-20.
"I think if you look at the interception, it was the product of a defensive back making a good play on a tight throw, the ball bounces up in the air and it lands where it lands," Cousins said. "I don't know if that's a product of anything, other than the fact that it's the way it happened."
As the Redskins' came back out for the fifth drive (even though Colt McCoy appeared ready to go with his helmet on), everything started to click for the Michigan State product.
Over the next nine minutes of play, Cousins would connect for three touchdown passes.
"Yeah, you know, it's going to be a four-quarter game for the 16 that we play this season and we're going to have slow moments or slow quarters at times," Cousins said. "The key is going to be to find a way to circle the wagons and regroup so that by the end of the four quarters we put together a good performance. Certainly in the time we had tonight the body of work overall was pretty productive but there were moments where it wasn't as good as it needs to be, and we know that. A lot of the stuff I feel will be easily correctable and over the long haul will even itself out."
Cousins' first touchdown pass would come on just a four-play drive that went 80 yards, as he found Ryan Grant for a short gain that the third-year wide receiver would turn up field and into a 38-yard touchdown.
On the next drive after the defense forced the Bills into a three-and-out, Cousins and Jordan Reed joined forces for a 20-yard touchdown score for the athletic tight end.
Reed would go in motion pre-snap, confusing Buffalo's defense just enough to create space for the score.
"We've been working hard out there and things weren't going our way in the beginning," Reed said. "We started to settle down and started doing things natural."
Cousins' final touchdown pass of the evening came with less than a minute remaining in the half, as he found Pierre Garçon for a nine-yard score.
Check out the top images from the Washington Redskins' offense in their 2016 Preseason Week 3 matchup against the Buffalo Bills Aug. 26, 2016, at FedExField.
It would Cousins' final pass of the evening, as he finished the night 12-of-23 for 188 yards and three touchdowns to one interception.
While the starters aren't expected to play during Thursday night's preseason finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gruden does want the Redskins to be sharper with their execution.
On an evening in which both teams were flagged frequently, the Redskins were penalized 10 times for 87 yards.
"We'll have to address them," Gruden said. "The penalties—offensively—were too many. Kory [Lichtensteiger] I think had three, I think called against him. Logan [Paulsen] I think had one, I think that was a pretty good block by him also. But, we had some other ones. [Ty] Nsekhe had an illegal hands to the face which I think was a great call. We have to get those cleaned up, you know, those things are just—it's hard enough to go down the field on a 1st-and-10, 2nd-and-10, when you had 1st-and-20, 2nd-and-25, it's darn near impossible in the NFL. So, it's something that we have to address and fix."