GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The disaster started when Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins sailed a pass over the middle, always a dangerous sight. The safety was there, the interception was easy and the turnover woes had begun.
When it was over, Cousins had thrown three interceptions in Washington’s 30-20 loss to Arizona. That gives Cousins eight interceptions for the season and is the sixth time in his career he’s thrown more than one pick in a game. That covers 13 appearances and eight starts. He was given a golden opportunity to get what he wanted long term: a starting job.
He does not have the luxury of being a high draft pick with a ton invested in him to warrant anything other than a return to the bench when Robert Griffin III is healthy. Fair or not, Cousins needed to make a strong case in a short time; he’s provided glimpses and sometimes a little bit more. But strong? No. And it’s because of the turnovers.
It’s a constant problem for Washington, which turns the ball over way too often, and it once again cost the Redskins a shot at winning -- especially with a defense that forces few turnovers.
For Cousins, it capped a frustrating day against Arizona. He posted big numbers, completing 24-of-38 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns. But the biggest involved the number three -- as in interceptions.
“It wasn’t what we wanted,” Cousins said of the fourth quarter. “The turnovers were costly. They just didn’t give us a chance to stay on the field. We’ve got guys who can help us, but when you turn the ball over you won’t give them a chance to show what they can do.”
No, you won’t. The problem for Cousins is that if he can’t get past the turnover issues, he’ll remain what he is: a backup. He’ll make some throws that are outstanding, such as the one to receiver DeSean Jackson for a 64-yard score. Jackson curled behind corner Patrick Peterson, but the opening was narrow and Cousins found him.
But ... the interceptions.
“The first one was a poor throw, high over the middle,” Cousins said. “I got off rhythm and just felt rushed and it threw me off where I wanted to be. That one was on me.”
The second one was tougher to assess full blame, which is why coach Jay Gruden spread it around. Still trailing by 10 and with a third-and-3 at the Cardinals’ 42, Cousins wanted to hit Jackson on what appeared to be a slant out of a bunch formation. Roberts, part of the three-man group, went to block a defensive back off the snap. But Cousins and Jackson didn’t connect.
“The play took way too long,” Gruden said. “That play is supposed to be one step and the ball is gone. It took way too long, the flat defender read his eyes and got underneath and made a play. That was not how it was designed and, for whatever reason, we were late. Bad play design and bad execution equals interception.”
“That’s kind of a bang-bang play,” Cousins said. “You’ve got to let the ball go.”
Once more the defense held, the Redskins drove for a quick touchdown and then got the ball back with 29 seconds remaining at their own 14. Clearly, getting into field goal position would be tough. But Cousins made it worse by turning and throwing blindly back to his left.
“I was just trying to get the ball downfield and did not see the defender,” Cousins said. “I basically threw it without seeing him there. When you do that and he’s standing there, he’s going to intercept it and take it back.”