Instant analysis: Redskins 38, Browns 21

Instant analysis: Redskins 38, Browns 21
December 16, 2012, 3:30 pm
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Cousins: 'total team win today'

CLEVELAND—No one was quite sure how the injury to Robert Griffin III would affect Washington’s postseason push.

Well, in the end, it didn’t hurt at all. Rookie backup Kirk Cousins stepped in Sunday, passed for 329 yards and two touchdowns, and the Redskins won for the fifth straight week, defeating the Browns, 38-21, at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The streak is the Redskins' longest since 2005 and it puts them in control of their own destiny with NFC East games remaining against the Eagles and Cowboys. The Browns, meantime, suffered their first loss in four contests.

Cousins completed 26 of his 37 pass attempts in his first NFL start.

He also shook off a shaky first quarter.

On the Redskins’ second possession, Cousins’ third pass attempt of the afternoon sailed off target, got tipped and wound up in the hands of T.J. Ward. The Browns safety returned the ball to Washington’s six-yard line.

A play later, Trent Richardson scored to put Cleveland ahead 7-0 and break Jim Brown’s franchise record for touchdowns by a rookie with his 10th.

Cousins, though, settled down in a first half marked by little continuity as the teams combined to convert 4 for 15 on third downs. But after back-to-back three and outs, Cousins fired a perfectly placed pass into triple coverage. Leonard Hankerson hauled in the toss and scored a 54-yard touchdown to knot the score 7-7.

After Kai Forbath connected on his 15th consecutive field goal, the Browns pulled ahead 14-10 on Richard’s second touchdown of the half.

The Redskins, however, scored the next 21 points to seize control of the contest.

Linebackers Rob Jackson and London Fletcher each picked off Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden (21 of 35 for 244 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions) in a season half that saw the visitors pull away and Cleveland Browns Stadium empty out early in the fourth quarter.

Jackson’s third quarterback interception set up the Redskins at the Browns’ 15-yard line. Three plays later, Alfred Morris scored from three yards out to put the Redskins ahead for good, 17-14.

Hankerson’s second touchdown of the game – and third of the season – put the Redskins ahead 24-14.

Fletcher’s interception – his fourth of the season – set up another touchdown early in the fourth. Playing in his record 238th consecutive game, the 37-year-old linebacker equaled his career high for interceptions (2000, 2006).

Although a 69-yard touchdown reception by Travis Benjamin gave the Browns hope at 31-21, the Browns hope was fleeting. Morris’ second touchdown made it 38-21 with 5:00 left to play.