CLEVELAND — In a battle of two rookie quarterbacks, the fourth-round pick clearly out played the first-round pick.
The Redskins’ Kirk Cousins, a fourth-round draft pick from Michigan State, made his first start in place of Robert Griffin III and led his team to a 38-21 victory over the Browns.
“Coach (Mike)Shanahan put him in a great spot,” Brandon Weeden said. “(The Redskins) tailor-made what he does well. He played well.
“You have to tip your hat to him.”
Cousins finished 26-of-37 for 329 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. His rating was 104.4. Cousins started shaky as he was intercepted by T.J. Ward, who returned the ball 37 yards to the Redskins’ six-yard line and setting up the first of two Trent Richardson touchdowns.
By contrast, Weeden was 21-of-35 for 244 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. His rating was 66.8. The first interception was by Rob Jackson, who returned the ball to the Browns’ 15. Three plays later, the Redskins took the lead for good on an Alfred Morris touchdown run to make it 17-14 early in the third quarter.
Later, when the Browns were driving, Weeden was intercepted by London Fletcher to stop the drive. The Redskins scored another touchdown to make it 31-14.
“Obviously, I didn’t play good enough to win,” Weeden said. “I’m not losing confidence over it, but feel I’m still making progress. You can’t turn it over and I didn’t do a good enough job.”
Weeden was asked why the offense couldn’t get into a rhythm. The only solid drive was a 75-yard touchdown drive with 1:11 to play in the first half as Richardson went in from the one-yard line to give the Browns a 14-10 lead at the half.
“That’s a good question,” Weeden said. “That’s a good defense we were playing, so you have to tip your hat. I missed a couple throws and we just weren’t in rhythm. It’s tough when you’re in third-and-10, third-and-9.”
After the Redskins went up 31-14, Weeden had his best play of the game when he threw a laser to Travis Benjamin in stride for a 69-yard score to make it 31-21 with 10:11 to play in the game.
For the season, Weeden is 285-of-498 for 3,281 yards (57.2 percent) with 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. His rating is 72.4.
K Phil Dawson and KR Josh Cribbs might have played their last games at Cleveland Browns Stadium as both are in the final year of their contracts. Dawson has been franchised the past two seasons, but the collective bargaining rules say a player franchised the third year must be paid the average of the top five players in the league, which is near $15 million a season. Dawson did not get a chance to attempt any field goals, but did convert on all three PATs.
Cribbs ran once out of the wildcat formation and picked up 16 yards to set up a Trent Richardson touchdown. Cribbs had seven kickoff returns for 191 yards with a long of 32 yards. He also returned two punts for 15 yards. He trailed Dennis Northcutt by 14 yards to become the Browns’ all-time leading punt returner. Cribbs has 35 returns for 439 yards for a 12.5 average.
RB Trent Richardson continues to struggle with yards per carry average, but he is able to find the end zone. Richardson scored two touchdowns to break the rookie rushing touchdown mark set by Jim Brown in 1957, as he has 11 on the season. He carried the ball 11 times for 28 yards (2.5 avg.) with a long of 14 yards. He also caught three passes for just 4 yards with a long of 9 yards.
For the season, Richardson had 897 yards on 258 carries for an average of 3.5 yards. He has 11 rushing touchdowns and has caught 48 passes for 352 yards and a touchdown.
RB Montario Hardesty had two carries for just 5 yards.
WR Greg Little led the Browns with five receptions for 74 yards (14.8 avg.) , including a long of 30 yards. WR Josh Gordon had three catches for 27 yards, while WR Travis Benjamin had just one catch but it was for a 69-yard touchdown.
LB D’Qwell Jackson led the Browns with 9 tackles, followed by DB Sheldon Brown and LB Craig Robertson with six each.
The Browns had two sacks, one by DE Jabaal Sheard and one by DE Juqua Parker. It was the fifth for Sheard and a team leading sixth for Parker.
Ward Hurt: S T.J. Ward left the game late with an ankle or leg injury. He did not return and was replaced by rookie Tashaun Gipson. Ward had an interception that set up the Browns first touchdown and he had a tackle for a loss and a pass broken up to go along with five tackles.