The Browns came out hell-bent on shutting down the run and forcing Cousins to make throws. The plan worked early. Cousins tossed a first-quarter interception and opened 1-of-6 passing.
Then Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan did something wise: He showed remarkable confidence in Cousins, dialing up an aggressive downfield strike on which the rookie weaved the ball through coverage to Leonard Hankerson for a 54-yard touchdown. That started a 7-of-7 streak for Cousins, who finished 26-of-37 passing for 329 yards and two scores.
"This isn't my first rodeo," Cousins told reporters after the game. "I played a lot of football in the Big Ten, and I had games like that where you start slow -- and you gotta have character, and you gotta find it within yourself to dig deep. And that's what we did, and that's what I'm proud of our team for, the way we didn't get spooked by a slow start."
This is a smart young quarterback who settled down and made the most of a golden opportunity. The Redskins now control the NFC East because of what Cousins accomplished Sunday.