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“I think the first one he could’ve dumped it over the middle. The second one … he really threw it when he was supposed to throw it; [the receiver] got jammed about 15 yards down the field,” Shanahan said. “You’ve got to anticipate that throw and there’s nothing you can about a throw like that. I was pleased with the throw, and obviously not the end result.”

Neither was Cousins, but teammates nevertheless voiced support for what he did in a difficult spot.

“I think Kirk came in and did a good job. He almost led us to a win,” left guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. “I think that’s all you can really ask of your second-string quarterback. He knows the plays, he directed the offense well, he had confidence. I have a lot of respect for him.”

Shanahan had enough respect for Cousins that the rookie has been Griffin’s backup all season instead of Rex Grossman, who knows the offense and can manage the game.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in both quarterbacks, Kirk and Rex,” the Redskins‘ coach said. “Kirk has been No. 2 for a reason — because we feel like he earned that right. We feel very good about him and where he’s at, but I also have a lot of confidence in Rex as well.”

It could be Grossman against the Vikings if Griffin is held out, something Shanahan left open when asked Sunday and Monday about who would start.

“You’ve just got to go with your evaluation of your people. Like I said, I’ve got the utmost confidence in both guys. That’s a great feeling to have,” he said.

“I can’t say that I’ve felt that way about my second and third string quarterbacks very often. A lot of times, you’ll feel good about one, not two. I’ve got probably the best situation I’ve been in for a long time.”

When Cousins was in tough situations Sunday and his interceptions sent fans at FedEx Field to the exits, he was reminded of an important lesson.

“The roller coaster of emotions, that’s football, that’s playing quarterback. You can never get too high and never get too low,” Cousins said. “I need to just stay centered. That’s the approach I’ve always taken and I’ll continue to do that.”