For Kirk Cousins, game was a family affair

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Detroit — It wasn’t quite the homecoming Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins had envisioned.

With friends and family on hand, Cousins appeared to score the winning touchdown on a 19-yard run in the final minute, but could only watch as the Lions rallied for a 20-17 victory Sunday at Ford Field to snap Washington’s four-game win streak.

“When you play in the NFL, you know every game is going to test you and it’s going to be a grind from start to finish,” said Cousins, the former Michigan State standout. “No surprise there, that’s to be expected. Loved being able to come home. I know I’m from the west side of the state, but the state of Michigan is home to me.

“I wear a baseball cap around the facility a lot with the State of Michigan on it, so it means a lot to me. I had a great number of people from both Michigan State and my hometown of Holland who drove over to support me.”

After playing behind 2011 Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III his first three seasons, Cousins took over as Washington’s full-time starter and Sunday marked his first start against his hometown team in his five-year career.

Cousins was efficient throughout the game, taking what the Lions’ defense gave him and completing 30 of 39 passes for 301 yards and a touchdown. His only blemishes were two first-half sacks and two fumbles, one of which he lost.

“He’s a good quarterback,” Lions defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker said. “You look at it and you look at their team, he’s their leader. In the NFL, you don’t have a quarterback that can make plays like that.”

Cousins led Washington deep into Lions’ territory on three of its four first-half possessions. However, Washington came up empty on its first two scoring chances as running back Matt Jones fumbled at the Lions’ 2-yard line and kicker Dustin Hopkins missed a 45-yard field goal off the left upright.

But Cousins was at his best in the second half when he engineered a pair of touchdown drives. After the Lions took a 13-3 lead, Cousins led a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown pass to running back Robert Kelley off of play action to cut it to 13-10 with 8:20 left in the game.

Then following a Lions punt, Cousins orchestrated a nine-play, 76-yard drive he finished with a 19-yard scramble to give Washington its first lead of the game, 17-13, with 1:05 remaining.

“Phenomenal play call by (offensive coordinator) Sean (McVay). We had run it the previous play and handed it off,” Cousins said. “Second time we got to it because we didn’t get the look we wanted on the pass play, so we checked to it.

“(Lions defensive end Kerry Hyder) closed and pulled it. Phenomenal blocking by (tight end Vernon Davis) on the outside to give me the chance to get there, and great play design.”

Washington’s advantage was short-lived as Matthew Stafford and the Lions drove 75 yards in six plays to reclaim the lead on an 18-yard touchdown catch by Anquan Boldin with 16 seconds left and spoil Cousins’ return.

“I felt right at home here, so it was very special to me,” Cousins said. “Would have loved to have come out on top, but it’ll be fun to connect with everybody after the game. Get some hugs and some smiles, and just appreciate all the support.” @jamesbhawkins