And if the sight of trainers tending to Griffin wasn’t enough to send the price of antacid through the roof in these parts, backup quarterback Kirk Cousins faced a two-point conversion needed to tie the Baltimore Ravens in the final seconds of a game with major playoff implications.
Griffin’s hearing, though, was not affected by the knee-bending hit he absorbed while scrambling eight plays earlier. When offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s play call sounded through his helmet radio headset, Griffin’s disappointment waned.
“This,” Griffin thought, “is awesome.”
The call included the option for a quarterback draw. “We didn’t think they’d be expecting it,” coach Mike Shanahan said. Not with Cousins, the fourth-round rookie backup who, like everyone else on the planet, doesn’t possess the combination of throwing and running ability that Griffin does.
Cousins has waited and watched for most of the season as his rookie position-mate has become a star. What vindication, then, for him to complete two passes for 26 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon, in relief to help the Redskins win their fourth-straight game.
“It has been communicated to me by some veterans that they believe in me and that if my name has to be called upon that they believe I can get it done, and that means the world,” Cousins said. “First and foremost, Robert has been doing an awesome job, and I have a lot to live up to if my number does get called.”
Washington also stayed one game back of the 8-5 Seattle Seahawks, who maintained their hold on the NFC’s final wild-card spot by blowing out Arizona.
A comeback win of this magnitude normally results in unmitigated jubilation. The Redskins trailed for the entire second half until Cousins‘ two-point run tied it and sent the home fans in the bipartisan crowd of 81,178 into a frenzy. Players, however, were concerned about their starting quarterback.
An MRI on Griffin’s knee Sunday night showed no significant ligament damage. “Everything is clear,” Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie said. Griffin’s status for next Sunday’s game against Cleveland is undetermined.
“You’ve got to try to put aside all the worries that you have for Robert and the concern about him and is he going to be OK and how much this offense hinges on him,” left guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. “You have to put all that belief in Robert on Kirk. Kirk is a very capable guy. He knows what he’s doing.”
Cousins was on the sideline for almost three hours on this cold, raw day. He wore a jacket to stay warm, but he physically felt cold when he entered the game with 1:42 remaining and the Redskins at their 40-yard line trailing by eight.
“All I need to hear from him is the play,” Lichtensteiger said. “If he can get that out and it makes sense and the protections are going the right way, it’s good.”
Players expected Cousins to be ready. On many weekdays, you can find him sitting on a couch outside the Redskins‘ locker room with his nose buried in his playbook. Sometimes he’ll be drawing plays using a pen and a pad of paper.
Knowing Griffin blocks him on the depth chart tests his patience, but Sunday’s results show he has handled it well. “It’s encouraging to watch a quarterback have success in this offense because you feel like you’re in a place that you succeed if your number does get called upon,” Cousins said. “Coach Shanahan’s track record with quarterbacks, this is a place where you want to play. In that sense, it’s a good position for me to be in.”
“I thought, ‘I’m going to try to make something happen and try to do my best RG3,’” Cousins said.
But then the Ravens backed off. The draw was on.
The hole opened for Cousins, and — what else? — the rookie seized the opportunity.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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