Cousins on the run

Red­skins QB has nose for end zone

The Star Democrat - - FRONT PAGE - By DAN STEINBERG WPNS Colum­nist

Kirk New­ton? Kirk Cousins just keeps plow­ing into the end zone

Which NFL quar­ter­backs have rushed for the most touch­downs over, say, the past three sea­sons? There’s Cam New­ton with 19, and then a tie for sec­ond — be­tween Ty­rod Taylor and Kirk Cousins. Washington’s QB has scored more of­ten than Alex Smith or Jameis Win­ston, more of­ten than Mar­cus Mar­i­ota or Aaron Rodgers. Kind of un­ex­pected, right?

How about this one: Which Red­skins backs have rushed for the most touch­downs over those same three sea­sons? That list starts with Cousins, ob­vi­ously. The quar­ter­back has 12 rush­ing scores, ahead of Rob Kel­ley with nine and Matt Jones with six.

One more: Which Red­skins quar­ter­backs have rushed for the most touch­downs in fran­chise his­tory? Joe Theis­mann is in first with 17. But Cousins, with 12, is now ahead of ev­ery­one else, in­clud­ing Sonny Jur­gensen, who had 10, and Sammy Baugh, with nine. Theis­mann needed 124 starts to get those 17 scores. Cousins reached a dozen rush­ing touch­downs in just 50 starts.

Each of those lists kind of sur­prises me. Is this a skill or a prod­uct of cir­cum­stances? Be­cause if it’s a skill, Cousins seems to have it.

The quar­ter­back showed his goalline ex­per­tise twice on Sun­day, both on strange plays that re­quired some of­fi­ci­at­ing dis­cus­sions. There was the

1-yard run in the sec­ond quar­ter, on which Cousins bob­bled the ball, lost his orig­i­nal mo­men­tum and then was pushed into the end zone as part of a mas­sive pile of hu­mans, with Larry Michael de­scrib­ing him as “just en­gulfed in man­hood.” And the fum­ble was more dis­rup­tive than I re­al­ized live.

“When the quar­ter­back sneak plays get called down there, you never quite know what they’re go­ing to do from a front stand­point, or what the lineback­ers are go­ing to do,” Cousins ex­plained on 106.7 The Fan’s Grant and Danny pro­gram. “And so you kind of get up there and as­sess: Is this go­ing to have a chance or not? And I ac­tu­ally felt re­ally good about it. I felt like with the front they were play­ing, the depth of the lineback­ers, this would not be hard to get in. We were gonna get push, and I could get in there be­fore the lineback­ers could meet me.

“But the chal­lenge was, the cen­ter-quar­ter­back ex­change was just not clean,” Cousins went on. “And so as the ball came up, ba­si­cally it was loose in my hands, or I fum­bled it if you will, and had to kind of re-grab it. And at that point, I had no push. I didn’t get down and drive my legs. And so for­tu­nately we had so lit­tle to have to gain, and with the push that we got I was able to get in. But it prob­a­bly wouldn’t have been as close if the ex­change had been clean. I think we would have been able to just dive right in. It would have been pretty de­fin­i­tive.”

The sec­ond play was even wack­ier, when Cousins dove across the goal line on a short carry, but then fum­bled the ball. Of­fi­cials never blew the play dead, and so the fum­ble was re­turned for a 100-yard touch­down, even though ev­ery­one ba­si­cally as­sumed the Min­nesota touch­down would be re­versed owing to the Washington touch­down al­ready hav­ing been scored. Sure enough.

“I was pretty con­fi­dent I was in,” Cousins said on the ra­dio show. “You know, the chal­lenge for me is when you get that close to the goal line — you’re lit­er­ally inches away — in­stinc­tively you want to reach. You want to put the ball out there. And yet when you do that you sub­ject your­self to a pos­si­ble fum­ble. And so that chal­lenge of do I keep it in my gut know­ing that it may be an inch short, or if I just reach my hand out we’re gonna score: that was my chal­lenge.

“I reached it out, and then it be­came sus­cep­ti­ble to the fum­ble,” Cousins said. “And my thing was, I didn’t know ex­actly when I reached it as to when it sud­denly no longer was in my pos­ses­sion. But I felt like I had crossed the goal line, I felt like I was clearly in be­fore it be­came loose. And I just walked right over to the ref and just said ‘I was in.’ . . . And for­tu­nately we were in, but those are a lit­tle too close for com­fort there.”

And yet, there was some­thing fa­mil­iar about Cousins bar­rel­ing into the end zone there. He now has six rush­ing touch­downs of ei­ther one or two yards over the last three sea­sons. That’s 22nd of any NFL player in that span — and ahead of every quar­ter­back other than New­ton.


Quar­ter­back Kirk Cousins (8) has rushed for more touch­downs (12) over the past three sea­sons than any other Red­skins back in that time frame.

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