The Washington Redskins were a fingertip away from mounting a comeback led by sophomore quarterback Kirk Cousins making his first start of the season.
Instead, the Redskins left the Georgia Dome on Sunday with a loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
After Cousins led the troops on a clock eating 13-play drive for 80 yards, he found 13-year veteran Santana Moss on a quick out route in the front of the end zone to pull the Redskins within one.
With playoff implications a non-factor, head coach Mike Shanahan elected to go for two and the victory.
Cousins dropped back, shimmied to his right and tried to hit wide receiver Pierre Garcon in the corner of the end zone. But the Falcons got a hand out the ball; changing the trajectory of the pass just enough that it flew inches over his head.
After nearly recovering an onside kick attempt, the Redskins watched as Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan took a knee to end the game.
In his postgame press conference, Cousins took blame for the failed conversion and admitted that he’ll need more exposure in that area going forward.
“My initial reaction is that I had both Josh Morgan open on the off-schedule play and if I had set my feet I may have been able to drill it into Pierre,” Cousins said. “So that’s a play where I clearly didn’t have a good enough feel for and I need to go back and get better at it and I would like to think that I had a chance there.”
Cousins finished the day with career highs in yards (381) and touchdowns (three), but also committed three turnovers.
As a team, the Redskins had seven turnovers (five fumbles, two interceptions).
Running back Alfred Morris nearly crossed the century mark (98 yards) for the first time since Week 10, but also uncharacteristically coughed up the football twice. Both came on drives that were in Falcons territory.
Garcon continued his impressive campaign, catching seven passes for 129 yards and his first touchdown since Week 10. He now has the second longest streak of at least five receptions to start a season (14).
Defensively, linebacker Brian Orakpo led the way once again with 1.5 sacks and eight tackles. The two-time Pro Bowler now has double digit sack totals (10.0) for the second time in his career.
The Redskins return to FedExField for one final home game on Sunday vs. the Dallas Cowboys (8-6). Despite being 3-11 on the season, the game serves a multitude of purposes and, hopefully, consequences. First, the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is one of the best in the National Football League. Second, the Redskins are hoping to extract revenge from a bitter defeat in the Lone Star State early this season.
Most important, however, is the opportunity to sink Dallas’ playoff hopes.
Losing two-straight games, the Redskins have the chance to capitalize on their woes and severely hinder any shot that Jerry’s Boys see what January football is.
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