EditorsNote: Inserting new quotes
Redskins top Rams on last-minute touchdown
LOS ANGELES — Kirk Cousins’ 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ryan Grant with 1:49 remaining lifted the Washington Redskins to a 27-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The victory evens Washington’s record at 1-1. The Redskins opened the 2017 season with a 30-17 home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Los Angeles is 1-1. The Rams beat the Indianapolis Colts 46-9 in their season opener last week at the Coliseum.
On the winning touchdown, Cousins lofted the ball to Grant who was cutting left across the end zone. Grant made the catch just a few feet within the field of play, stopped and, for the benefit of replay cameras, demonstratively stomped both feet in bounds.
Washington then iced the game on an interception by linebacker Mason Foster. Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff threw to his left, targeting receiver Cooper Kupp. Foster sliced in front of Kupp for a clean interception.
Los Angeles Rams first-year head coach Sean McVay would have enjoyed beating the Redskins, the team for which he was an assistant coach for several years before getting the Rams job. But Cousins, the quarterback McVay helped develop, got in the way.
McVay was disappointed that Rams penalties contributed to the outcome. The Rams were flagged seven times for 75 yards.
One of those penalties was a fourth-quarter offensive pass interference on a Todd Gurley reception that erased what would have been a first down inside the Washington 10. The Rams would have to settle for a field goal.
“We can’t hurt ourselves with the penalties,” McVay said, “and some of the different things that occurred during the course of the game.”
The Redskins jumped to a 13-0 lead and never trailed. The Rams caught up to tie it, 20-20, in the fourth quarter, but never led.
It was a good enough, if not stellar, performance from Cousins. He completed 18 of 27 passes for 179 yards with no interceptions. Cousins threw for 240 yards and a touchdown last week against the Eagles.
Washington head coach Jay Gruden said Cousins perhaps missed an open receiver here or there but overall was pleased with his quarterback’s play, especially the touchdown pass to Grant.
“Huge throw at the end of the game,” Gruden said. “Kirk managed the game, managed the clock. Got us in the right runs and pretty good job overall.”
Washington tight end Jordan Reed had a team-high six receptions for 48 yards.
Redskins running back Rob Kelley was off to a strong start, gaining 78 yards on 12 carries, before exiting the game because of a rib injury that Gruden said was a possible fracture. Chris Thompson and rookie Samaje Perine were effective relievers; Thompson rambled for 77 yards on three attempts and scored two touchdowns, while Perine grinded out 67 yards on 21 carries.
Gruden liked the physical style of his running backs corps and how its production helped the passing game.
“We pounded,” Gruden said. “We hit four, five yards a carry and popped some runs. A lot of success running the ball means a lot of opportunities.”
That success running the ball helped Washington dominate in the time-of-possession category — 36:19 for the Redskins to 23:41 for the Rams.
“I think we were pretty good on third downs (5 for 13), keeping drives alive,” Gruden said. “You keep your defense fresh. We’ll have a lot better chance than when your defense is on the field all day or not converting third downs.”
Goff was not as good as he was last week, when he completed 21 of 29 passes for 306 yards and a touchdown. Against Washington, Goff was 15 for 25 for 224 yards and a touchdown with one interception.
McVay said Goff “did a nice job for the most part” and credited Goff for making quick and correct decisions.
“He created some off-schedule plays,” McVay said. “It’s unfortunate the way the game ended where their defense made a nice play and we turned the football over.”
Running the football was a Rams preseason concern, and despite last week’s one-sided win, the Los Angeles ground attack was still wanting. Sunday was better — Gurley ran for 88 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, for an average of 5.5 yards a carry. Gurley also had 48 receiving yards on three catches, including a touchdown.
“I thought he did a nice job,” said McVay of Gurley. “He got some plays out on the perimeter where it was some tight, inside-zone type plays and then he bounced it out and was able to create.”
Los Angeles rookie tight end Gerald Everett had 95 receiving yards on three receptions before exiting the game because of a thigh injury. Everett was the Rams’ top choice in the 2017 draft, having been taken in the second round.
Washington got off to a strong start, scoring on its first three possessions.
The Redskins took a 3-0 lead on a 41-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins with 4:43 left in the first quarter. They pushed their lead to 10-0 on the first play of the second quarter on a 7-yard touchdown run by Chris Thompson. Thompson took a pitchout around left end and tumbled into the end zone, just inside of the post, to finish a six-play, 65-yard drive.
Two minutes later, Hopkins added a 22-yard field goal to extend the Washington lead to 13-0 early in the second quarter. The Redskins got the ball on the Rams’ 30-yard line on a fumble recovery — Redskins cornerback Josh Norman smacked the ball out of Gurley’s grasp, with defensive end Terrell McClain making the recovery.
Los Angeles got its first points on a 1-yard touchdown dive by Gurley that trimmed the Washington lead to 13-7. A 69-yard completion from Goff to Everett had moved Los Angeles to the Washington 6-yard line.
The Rams got closer, 13-10 on a 32-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein, with 3:07 to go in the second quarter.
The Los Angeles momentum did not last long. Thompson scored on a 61-yard run on a draw play with 1:09 remaining in the first half. Thompson stutter-stepped through a large hole up the middle before heading up the right sideline to the end zone. That gave Washington a 20-10 halftime lead.
Thompson loved seeing that huge running lane created by the Redskins’ offensive linemen on that play.
“They made me look good,” Thompson said. “They just got the job done and I was just able to do my thing and run. So, let’s give all the credit to the O-line and guys that were blocking for me.”
The Rams pulled to within 20-17 in the third quarter on a spectacular play by Gurley. With the Rams at the Washington 18-yard line, Gurley took a short pass from Goff, high-hurdled Washington cornerback Bashaud Breeland at the 10 then bounced off Redskins safety Deshazor Everett into the end zone.
Los Angeles tied it, 20-20, on Zuerlein’s second field goal, this one traveling 40 yards, with 7:16 to go in the fourth quarter.
The Cousins-to-Grant touchdown pass finished an impressive fourth-quarter drive by the Redskins, who went 70 yards on 10 plays that ate up 5:27.
Washington guard Brandon Scherff was pleased with his team’s efficiency and desire, and was impressed by the Rams’ fortitude, too.
“I thought we played will in all three phases and we didn’t give up,” Scherff said. “It was going back and forth, back and forth, for the last couple periods. They didn’t give up, and we were pretty pumped that Mason came up with that interception at the end of the game.”
NOTES: Rams DT Aaron Donald, a contract holdout through training camp and the team’s season opener, made his 2017 debut Sunday. He played in most defensive series and finished with two tackles. ... The Redskins lost starting RT Morgan Moses to an ankle injury in the third quarter. ... QB Kirk Cousins’ touchdown pass to WR Ryan Grant was his 19th consecutive touchdown pass in an away game, a club record. ... It was a good day for punters. Washington’s Tress Way averaged 51 yards on four punts. Rams’ Pro Bowl P Johnny Hekker averaged 45.5 yards on his four punts. ... It was a sparse crowd. The announced number of tickets sold was 56,612 at the 93,607-capacity Coliseum.