Reporting Daryl Ruiter
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns played a meaningful game in mid-December but apparently Brandon Weeden didn’t get the memo until it was too late.
With no Robert Griffin III, Redskins rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins was supposed to look tentative and indecisive; instead it was Weeden who looked like he making his first start of the season.
Cousins threw for 329 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Alfred Morris ran for 2 more scores as the Washington Redskins exploded in the second half for a 38-21 victory Sunday afternoon at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
“They would have been doing all the same things, with the addition of the option if RG3 was in the game,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “That looked like the Redskins offense. I’d like to credit Kirk. He did a nice job.”
While Cousins was busy lighting up the Browns’ secondary, Weeden finished 21 of 35 for 244 yards, a touchdown, 2 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 66.8 against the 31st pass defense in the NFL this season.
“I didn’t play good enough for us to win,” Weeden said. “We came in today with a lot of confidence and just didn’t find a way to win. It was a team loss. Obviously I put the team in a difficult spot 2 times.”
Cousins’ day started slow as Washington punted on 4 of their first 5 possessions – the other ended in a turnover.
On The ‘Skins’ second series, Sheldon Brown tipped a Cousins pass into the arms of T.J. Ward who returned it 37 yards to the 6 yard line. On the next play, Trent Richardson went 6 yards for his 10th rushing touchdown of the season breaking Jim Brown’s rookie record to give the Browns an early 7-0 lead.
“It means a lot, but we still lost at the end of the day so it doesn’t mean anything, for real,” Richardson said. “It didn’t really mean as much without the ‘W.’”
On his first 4 carries Richardson had 24 yards. He had 28 yards on 9 attempts at the half and carried just twice in the second half.
“It was shocking,” Richardson said. “But the game is bigger than me. Coach has to do what he does.”
On Washington’s 5th possession, Cousins found receiver Leonard Hankerson open for a 54 yard touchdown. Hankerson got behind Brown and Ward while Usama Young came over to help but not before Hankerson got up and walked into the end zone after losing his feet at the 5 to tie the game at 7.
Kai Forbath’s 44 yard field goal put the Redskins on top 10-7 with 5:50 to play in the half.
Weeden and the Browns responded before heading to the locker room.
Greg Little’s 30 yard catch and run followed by a 16 yard run from Josh Cribbs out of the wildcat to the 7 yard line set up Richardson’s 2nd TD of the game, a 1-yard run after a review wiped his would be 3 yard run off the board.
The 9-play, 75 yard drive put the Browns in front 14-10 at the half. Cleveland’s first 6 possessions – 29 plays, 63 yards but that was it for Richardson Sunday.
“I just think we got out of our gameplan,” Richardson said. “I thought it would be a good day for our running game.”
Weeden opened the 2nd half by throwing an interception right to linebacker Rob Jackson while looking for Little over the middle on the 2nd play. Jackson returned it 17 yards to the Browns’ 15.
Alfred Morris’ 3-yard TD run put the ‘Skins up 17-14 early in the 3rd.
Cousins and Hankerson hooked up for a 2-yard touchdown to cap a 7-play 60-yard drive and bump their lead to 10 at 24-14 with 7:50 to play in the 3rd.
“He’s a really good quarterback,” cornerback Joe Haden said of Cousins. “The only reason he’s not playing is because RG3 is there. I don’t want anybody to take anything away from him. He’s a very capable quarterback.
“He stepped in, played really well, the receivers caught the ball and you can’t take anything away from him.”
Cousins and the Redskins ran roll out’s and bootlegs at will all afternoon on the Browns.
“We knew they ran the boot, but not that good,” defensive end Jabaal Sheard said. “They had a great disguise. They ran the stretch (run) and the play-action.”
Weeden gave the Browns life early in the 4th with 69-yard touchdown strike to Travis Benjamin to climb within 31-21 but that’s as close as it got.
Morris’ 2nd TD run of game for the Redskins – 8 yards with 5:05 to play – provided the final margin.