LANDOVER – Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins showed his worth as a franchise signal caller with a gutsy performance against the San Francisco 49ers.
Up by just three points late in the fourth quarter, Cousins led a nine-play, 84-yard drive that he capped off with a 7-yard touchdown scamper. The score gave the Redskins just enough of a cushion to earn a 26-24 victory after the defense made a critical stand to seal the game.
“I think we did a good job as an offense. I think we moved the football,” Cousins said. “There were a lot of good decisions, a lot of good plays made, a lot of third-down conversions in big moments, a lot of crucial drives where we had to churn the clock and come away with points.
“So, I was proud of the way our offense played today. It wasn’t perfect, and there were a couple of mistakes, but all in all, we did a lot of good things.”
The Redskins jumped out to an early 7-0 lead against the winless 49ers after Cousins hooked up with five different receivers on the opening drive, including Josh Doctson who hauled in an 11-yard touchdown.
Washington scored again when rookie running back Samaje Perine dove in from three yards. Dustin Hopkins then nailed a 48-yard field goal to put the pressure on the 49ers in the second quarter.
After the Redskins reeled off 17 unanswered points in the first half, San Francisco answered back when Carlos Hyde punched in one of his two touchdowns before intermission.
The 49ers benched starting quarterback Brian Hoyer late in the second quarter due to his inefficiency, and the team turned to rookie C.J. Beathard to finish the contest. Hoyer went 4-of-11 for 34 yards while Beathard got the offense moving in the right direction by throwing for 245 yards and a touchdown despite a costly interception.
Even though Hyde found the endzone twice on the day, he accounted for just 28 rushing yards and 47 receiving. Redskins running back Chris Thompson, on the other hand, consistently kept the chains moving on chunk gains as he totaled 138 yards.
“I thought, as an offense, we started off fast, which is something that has been a point of emphasis for us,” Thompson said. “The 49ers have a good defense. We had to set the tone on that first drive. We were able to do so and the second half, we just got to play better. We just got to execute better to not put our defense in a situation like that in the end.”
Behind Beathard, San Francisco found some identity on offense and quickly went on a 17-0 run. The rookie gunslinger felt comfortable throwing the ball to two former Redskin receivers in Aldrick Robinson and Pierre Garcon. The two combined for 121 yards and a touchdown.
“He did well,” Garcon said about Beathard. “He came in and helped us out. We moved the ball down the field, checked some plays and scored touchdowns, which we needed. He just needs more experience.”
Beathard looked good, but Cousins looked even better down the stretch. That proved to be the difference in the final quarter with a little help from his defense.
Cousins threw for 330 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, but it was an errant throw by Beathard that sealed the deal. Beathard led a touchdown drive with a minute and some change remaining in the fourth after he threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Robinson to cut the Skins’ lead to two.
The Redskins went three and out off a failed onside kick attempt by the 49ers, but Beathard still had 52 seconds to try to win the game. In a do-or-die situation on fourth-and-20, Beathard floated a pass deep down the right sideline that was intercepted by Kendall Fuller to thwart any comeback.
Washington will face the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night on the road and then host the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 29.
“We won the game today,” Thompson said. “Just keeping that momentum going, looking back at the film, looking where we went wrong, looking at what we did well.”