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Kirk Cousins focuses on process: 'I've learned to ignore the noise'

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ASHBURN, Va. -- The final drive thrilled fans and earned praise for Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. The result was a win.

Cousins, though, exited with a bigger picture view of the game -- as he always does.

That they won the game was great for the Redskins. But rather than only looking at the result -- a 17-14 comeback win at the Seattle Seahawks -- Cousins focused more intently on every drive, not just the winning one. It's the difference between being a quarterback trying to improve and a fan or media member.

"This is a great case study in the way that the outside thinks versus the way that I think," Cousins said. "I totally understand from covering the team, fan-base perspective, the emotional roller coaster, I understand that a two-minute drill on the road against a good football team, finding a way to win -- it's exciting and it's fun and it gets the juices going. I'm a little bit more process-oriented."

The final drive was a terrific one: Cousins connected with receiver Brian Quick, lofting a ball to an open spot so he could run it down -- just as a pass-rusher drilled him. Next play: a diving catch by Josh Doctson, setting up Rob Kelley's game-winning 1-yard touchdown run.

But as in other games, Cousins takes a big-picture approach. By doing so, it enables him to analyze his entire game and not just snippets. If he focused on only series -- good or bad -- it could lead to a false impression of his day. Following a process can eventually help him achieve a higher result.

"There have been games where I've thrown for a lot of yards and felt like I played nearly flawlessly but we lost," Cousins said. "And I walk away saying, 'I'm getting better, I'm doing really good things, I'm about the process, and my process was really good today. I can't control the outcome but the process was really good.' But the noise on the outside is, 'He's got to get better, he's not doing enough, we didn't come away with the win.'"

Cousins' worth is measured, seemingly, by every pass. Or by parsing how he built his yardage totals. Other quarterbacks often throw short and get big yards -- Tom Brady, Drew Brees -- but with Cousins it has become a referendum on his ability, or desire, to throw downfield. If he's too aggressive and throws an interception, he should have checked down. If he checks down, it becomes: throw long.

Cousins knows it.

"So I've learned to ignore outcomes at times, I've learned to ignore the noise on the outside and just focus on the process," he said.

That means, is he doing his job right? Is he making proper decisions? Against Seattle, even with six starters missing because of injury, Cousins wasn't as happy with the process.

"I'll be the first one to say that the process against Seattle by no means was perfect. I felt like there were a lot of mistakes," he said. "Maybe it never had to come down to a two-minute drill if we had been better through the first three-and-a-half quarters. Was it a great finish? Yes. Did we show a lot of character? Yes. Did I love the resiliency? Is that a game I'll remember? Yes."

But he'll remember it for more than just the final drive.

"I don't like to get too outcome-focused and I feel, on the outside, I feel that happening after this game and that's OK, on the outside," he said. "My concern is in the locker room, in our organization, making sure that we don't allow that to creep in."