Quarterback play from the Redskins was flawless Sunday night, as Kirk Cousins elevated the offense with 360-plus yards and three touchdown tosses.
Heading into the primetime matchup of the Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins, it was Oakland quarterback Derek Carr turning heads and leaving whispers of an MVP run in his wake. Through two games, Carr had yet thrown an interception, had been sacked only once and had the quickest release time of all NFL quarterbacks.
Meanwhile, Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins was quietly leading the Redskins' offense to a last-minute win against the Los Angeles Rams after a rough showing in Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles. On paper, Carr looked like he was going to be the one having the edge during the Week 3 matchup between the two quarterbacks at FedExField in Landover, Md.
After one passing play by the Raiders, though, it was clear the script had been flipped.
On Oakland's second play from scrimmage, Carr heaved the ball downfield to receiver Amari Cooper. Miscommunication caused Cooper to slow down, and the ball sailed over his head and into the waiting arms of safety Montae Nicholson.
Cousins had been gifted early possession with relatively good field position, and the quarterback seized the opportunity. On Washington's first pass play, the sixth-year veteran found tight end Vernon Davis streaking toward the right sideline. Cousins delivered a strike that Davis hauled in with ease, and the Redskins quickly found themselves in Raiders territory.
"The fact that Vernon has the speed that he has and the experience and can make the plays with the last year and half – What an asset to our offense," Cousins said. "Another guy that's a great teammate, great person, he carries himself well. You just love going to work with him every day."
Five plays later, Cousins wisely dumped the ball off to running back Chris Thompson before the Raiders' blitz could get to him. Thompson handled the rest, zooming 22 yards for a score.
The Redskins' defense stifled Carr for the entire first half, giving the Washington offense lots of time on the field. Cousins took his time behind a much-improved offensive line, hitting Terrelle Pryor Sr. inches from the sideline. A first down pass to receiver Jamison Crowder put the Redskins back in a position to score.
Check out the top images from the Washington Redskins' offense in their 2017 Week 3 matchup against the Oakland Raiders Sept. 24, 2017, at FedExField.
This time, Cousins tossed a dime to Davis, who had barely outrun the double coverage in the end zone.
"It looked to me that they did split safety coverage," Cousins said. "They played man up on Vernon. The goal was to beat his man down the field to find a seam between the two safeties and I just have to throw it out there."
In the second half, Cousins finally found success in the deep ball, something he has hesitated to try this season. On first down, Cousins dropped back and threw a jump ball to receiver Josh Doctson. Leaping over cornerback David Amerson, Doctson miraculously landed on his feet with the ball secured. Before Amerson could register what happened, Doctson was already across the goal line.
"I think the players have seen him do that in practice quite often but nobody else has," said Washington head coach Jay Gruden. "It wasn't a perfectly thrown ball, but to give him a chance where he can go up and make a big time catch, hopefully we'll get more of that. But it was great to see man, I'm happy for Josh, and happy that Kirk threw it."
Cousins' last big play of the game came at the hands, and feet, of Thompson, who took a screen pass on 3rd-and-long 74 yards. With the lead secured, Washington dialed up the run game and Cousins could fully enjoy his best performance of the season.
"The fact that it was a full four quarter performance," Cousins said. "I felt that was outstanding."