Philadelphia — Wearing his “NFC East Champions” hat, Kirk Cousins made sure he got the last word.
Cousins finished his news conference, turned on his way out and screamed: “How many of y’all picked us to win the division?” It sounded like his “You like that?” rant two months ago.
Washington is division champions, thanks to Cousins and his right arm.
Cousins threw four touchdown passes and had a season-high 365 yards and Washington beat the Philadelphia Eagles 38-24 on Saturday night to win their first division title in three years, completing a worst-to-first season.
“This is the most satisfied I’ve been as a player,” Cousins said. “It’s a big accomplishment. Now we need to build from here.”
Only 4-12 in 2014, Washington (8-7) began its turnaround when Cousins rallied them from a 24-0 first-half deficit to a 31-30 win over Tampa Bay on Oct. 25. After that game, he yelled at reporters: “You like that?” It’s become a rallying cry for Washington and its fans, who continued the chant for several minutes after the game.
“We felt like we were an up-and-coming football team and could compete with anyone,” coach Jay Gruden said.
Washington has won three straight for the first time since a seven-game winning streak helped it secure the division in 2012 in Robert Griffin III’s rookie year.
DeAngelo Hall returned DeMarco Murray’s fumble 17 yards for a momentum-changing TD in the third quarter. Cousins threw TD passes to Chris Thompson and Pierre Garcon and a pair to Jordan Reed.
The Eagles (6-9) entered the game in control of their playoff hopes. They needed to beat Washington and the Giants next week to win the East. Washington’s win also eliminated New York (6-8).
“I think we’re good enough,” coach Chip Kelly said. “We just have to put them in better position to make plays. It’s 100 percent on my shoulders. It’s unacceptable.”
Two teams have clinched division crowns in Philadelphia in six days. Arizona won the NFC West with a 40-17 win over the Eagles last Sunday night.
While the Redskins head to the playoffs, the Eagles and Kelly face a challenging offseason. Kelly took control of personnel decisions last year and overhauled a team that went 10-6 in each of his first two seasons.
It clearly didn’t work out.
Meanwhile, Gruden made a gutsy call in August to bench Griffin and give the starting job to Cousins.
It paid off.
Cousins was outstanding down the stretch with 16 TD passes and only two interceptions in the last seven games. He showed resolve after a mental blunder at the end of the first half cost Washington at least three points.
Cousins took a knee with no time-outs and 6 seconds left from the Eagles 6 with a 16-10 lead. He realized his mistake and tried to spike the ball, but the clock ran out. He made up for it in the second half.
“I’m very proud of Kirk,” Gruden said. “He came in and kept his composure just like he has all year. Put his nose to the grindstone.”
Cousins tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Thompson to give Washington a 23-10 lead. He converted three third-down passes on the series after Jaylen Watkins dropped an interception.
The Eagles answered quickly as Murray ran in from the 4 to cut it to 23-17.
But Murray then dropped a pitch, Hall picked it up and ran it back for a 30-17 lead late in the third quarter.
“I can’t take my eyes off it,” Murray said. “It was my fault.”
The Eagles missed a chance to take the lead early in the second quarter when Sam Bradford overthrew a wide-open Zach Ertz on third-and-9. It would’ve been a 60-yard TD.
They missed another opportunity on the following series when Nelson Agholor dropped a 28-yard TD pass and settled for Caleb Sturgis’ 34-yard field goal that cut it to 13-10.
After going three-and-out on its first possession, Washington scored touchdowns on the next two. Cousins connected with Reed over the middle on a 22-yard scoring pass to cut it to 7-6. Dustin Hopkins missed the extra point wide left.
Cousins then hit Reed over the middle again for a 12-yard TD pass and a 13-7 lead.