Forr all of the flack and disrespect coming from media pundits and Skins fans alike, the team’s Week Two match-up against the Los Angeles Rams could have been considered a must-win ballgame if the Washington team had any hope of being taken seriously this season.
The Rams, now led by former Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay, were actually favorites going into the game, which was unfathomable before the season started. That fact was based entirely on the results last week of both franchises: a terrible home loss by Washington and a drubbing of the Indianapolis Colts by the Rams.
The first indication that things could possibly be different for Washington this week was the effectiveness of their much-maligned run game. Starting back Robert Kelley was outstanding in the first quarter with 22 yards on the first drive before he left with an injury. It looked as if it was going to be one of those special games in which Washington could just run the ball down the opponent’s throat. Washington’s second drive of the game was capped off by a Chris Thompson touchdown run.
Washington finished the first quarter with 11 more rushing yards (75) than it had all of last week and 167 total yards in the first half. Amongst those yards was a 66-yard, highlight-reel touchdown run from Thompson which gave Washington a 20-10 lead at halftime.
That lead would not hold up, as L.A. found a rhythm on offense in the second half. The Rams scored 10 unanswered points and tied the game at 20-20 with a little over seven minutes remaining.
Fans expecting Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins to fail to show some mental toughness and be unable to lead his team down the field would be disappointed, happily.
Cousins, who completed just 18 of 27 passing attempts for 179 yards, led his squad down the field on a nine-play, 59-yard drive that burned more than five minutes off the clock and culminated in a clutch 11-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Grant on a third down. Instead of making the wrong decision, Cousins actually stepped up in the pocket, slid slightly to his left and floated a perfect pass to Grant for the decisive score.
For the second weekend in a row, Cousins did not play his best, but he was 3-for-3 on the game-winning drive, and more importantly avoided any back-breaking interceptions. Washington’s defense that sealed the game with an interception by Mason Foster on the Rams’ first play of the final series of the game.
Victory Monday is always a great thing. The defense is improving and the offense looks to have finally solved their issues in the run game. It is imperative that Washington continue to improve in all aspects of the game and not rest on the laurels of barely defeating a below-average Rams team by the skin of their teeth. Franchise growth starts with bringing effort every single week, not just when your back is seemingly against the wall.