EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is off the hook for a least a week.
Under fire after the defending NFC East winners lost their first two games and the object of rumors that some on the offense were unhappy with his play, Cousins passed for 296 yards, two touchdowns and didn’t turn the ball over in a 29-27 win Sunday that helped the Redskins avoid an 0-3 start.
“Wins in the NFL always feel like the highest of highs and the lows feel like the lowest of lows,” Cousins said. “Today is no different.
“Obviously, it’s a little easier to go into work the following morning and to have some pep in your step at practice. I didn’t get to the NFL, and most of these guys didn’t get to the NFL, because they’re mentally weak or they’re unable to ride the highs or the lows.
“The challenge will always be to never let success or failure affect us to a way where we get caught up in it.”
The Redskins, who have the winless Cleveland Browns on tap next weekend, still have a lot of work ahead. They had to settle for five goals from Dustin Hopkins, the last a 37-yarder with 1:51 to play.
“He played a lot better today,” Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. “I felt like he was more comfortable in the pocket. We pressured him. We got to him a couple times and I think he made some good throws.
“He had a good year last year. People want to count people out after a couple games, but he is a good quarterback and they are a good team.”
Washington’s defense preserved the win with Quinton Dunbar picking off Eli Manning in the end zone early in the fourth quarter and Su’a Cravens making another with 1:02 to play after New York got a first down at its 39.
New York (1-2) turned the ball over three times and had 11 penalties for 128 yards in handing the game to Washington.
“You can’t have that,” Manning said. “You can’t have the turnovers; you can’t have the penalties. Sometimes one can lead to the other with the penalties and put you in bad positions. Just the personal fouls, they were costly. When you’re down at the 2-yard line at one point, now you’re backing up. We got to play smart.”
The Giants play next at Minnesota a week from Monday.
Some takeaways from Washington’s win:
The showdown between Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Redskins cornerback Josh Norman was more of a sideshow. Referee John Hussey talked to both players before the game and they showed they can just play the game, for the most part.
The two never got in each other’s faces like last year, although Beckham did a little yapping in the fourth quarter after making consecutive catches.
“We’re just two fierce competitors. That’s all it is. We love football,” Beckham said. “We feel like this has turned into something that is not football. Honestly, I know that all I care for is football.”
Ironically, Giants center Weston Richburg was tossed for picking up two unsportsmanlike penalties, the second after blocking Norman and saying something to him.
“I’m proud of Josh and the way he’s played,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “He’s been a quality person since we got him.”
Norman did pick up a personal foul for an illegal hit on Sterling Shepard. He also should have intercepted Eli Manning in the first quarter, but dropped the ball.
INJURIES: Both coaches are going to be waiting for the MRI people to do their work on Monday. Jay Gruden has three to worry about: cornerback Bashaud Breeland (right high ankle sprain), safety DeAngelo Hall (right knee) and left guard Shawn Lauvoo (right ankle). Also center Kory Lichtensteigner (calf), cornerback Deshaun Phillips (hamstring) and Jamison Crowder (cramps) were hurt.
Giants coach Ben McAdoo had no updates on the injuries to cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (groin) and Eli Apple (hamstring)
KICKING GAME: Special teams came up big for Washington. Hopkins kicked a career-high five field goals, covering 49, 33, 45, 25 and 37 yards. Jamison Crowder had a 50-yard punt return to set up one of the field goals and punter Tress Way threw a 31-yard pass to Quinton Dunbar late in the third quarter to set up another. The only negative was Dunbar fumbled an early punt to give New York the possession on its first touchdown.
GIANTS DEFENSE: The Giants certainly didn’t get their money’s worth from the defense in this one, especially up front. While Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul picked up their first sacks of the season, Cousins had time to throw for 296 yards and the Redskins ran seven times for 39 yards on their final drive, using two backup linemen and having tackle Trent Williams shift to guard. The secondary also allowed five passes of more than 24 yards. New York has not forced a turnover on defense this season.