WASHINGTON — Two years ago, Kirk Cousins, playing for the injured Robert Griffin III, took the Redskins into Arizona and came out on the short end of a 30-20 score. Cousins completed 24 of 38 passes for 354 yards with two touchdowns, but threw three interceptions. All three picks occurred in the fourth quarter, with the final one returned for a score with under 30 seconds remaining.
“That’ll be a game that I’ll always remember as one that didn’t go our way, didn’t go my way,” Cousins said this week. “And one of those game where you learn from it and you say, ‘tough times don’t last; tough people do.’ To be able to come back from this I’ve got to choose to be mentally and physically tough coming back from that game. I’m just glad that here we are with another opportunity to go back there a couple of seasons later.”
Fast forward two years, as Cousins leads a high-powered offense back to the desert this week, looking for a third straight 500-yard game. The Redskins are coming off a tough loss in Dallas on Thanksgiving and now face a desperate football team in their backyard. The Cardinals are 4-6-1 after losing to Atlanta and are fighting to keep their season alive. That’s usually not a good combination.
This week proves to be another test for the Redskins offense, as the Cardinals enter the game with the top overall defense, allowing just 294 yards per game. They rank only 11th in points allowed at 20 per game after giving up 38 to Atlanta last week, but are still dangerous. The secondary is a big reason their defense holds offenses in check. Patrick Peterson is an elite corner, who was limited in practice this week with a knee injury but should play. Safety Tyrann Mathieu (and his nine career interceptions) is also lurking back there.
On the other side of the ball, this is the week the Redskins’ defense has to get to Carson Palmer. The Cardinals have allowed 33 sacks and Carson Palmer has thrown 11 interceptions.
The Cardinals are a team that won 13 games a year ago and are fighting to save their season. Translation: This is a dangerous team. The Redskins have passed the test pretty much all year against the top defenses and Sunday is another chance to show just how far this offense has come. It’s also a chance to basically end the Cardinals’ season.
The calendar has turned to December and the Redskins are in control of their playoff destiny. When was the last time you could say that? Enjoy the last five weeks.