Falcons hold off fumble-prone Redskins 27-26

From Washington’s first possession to the decisive play in the

final minute, Atlanta’s defense kept finding ways to get its hands

on the ball.

One of five rookies to start for the defense made the biggest

play of the game.

Desmond Trufant deflected Kirk Cousins’ pass on a potential

winning 2-point conversion with 18 seconds remaining, and the

Falcons edged the Redskins 27-26 on Sunday.

The Falcons (4-10) scored 20 points off seven Washington

turnovers. The Redskins (3-11) tied a team record with five lost

fumbles. Alfred Morris and Santana Moss each lost two fumbles.

”You can’t win with turnovers, yet we still had an opportunity

to win and that shows you how hard they fought,” said Redskins

coach Mike Shanahan.

”Those guys normally are great with ball security and don’t

turn it over.”

Cousins passed for 381 yards and three touchdowns, but had three

turnovers in his first start of the season after Shanahan benched

Robert Griffin III. Griffin was not in uniform and watched from the

sideline.

Cousins’ 3-yard touchdown pass to Moss gave Washington a chance

to force overtime by kicking the extra point.

Instead, Cousins’ 2-point pass for Pierre Garcon was deflected

by Trufant, who also had an interception.

”I was telling myself I had to make some big plays,” Trufant

said. ”I wasn’t surprised they went for the win. They had the

confidence and we were up for the challenge.”

Shanahan said his decision to go for 2 was based on the Falcons’

defensive alignment. He said he would have used his final timeout

to send his kicking team on the field if the Falcons didn’t have

the alignment he wanted for his planned play.

”I thought if we had the right defense and the right play,

we’re going to stay with it,” Shanahan said. ”We thought we did

and unfortunately it didn’t work out.”

Shanahan brushed off a question about his job status, saying

”I’m not going to talk about that.”

Cousins said he liked the decision to go for 2.

”I loved the call to go for 2 there,” Cousins said. ”I felt

like we had them on the ropes. We just didn’t do enough to execute,

but it starts right here with me.”

The Falcons recovered an onside kick to seal the win.

”It was a game full of drama, but I’m glad we were able to pull

it off,” said Atlanta’s Steven Jackson, who ran for 38 yards and

two touchdowns.

Cousins listed his two interceptions, lost fumble and failed

2-point pass as ”four plays right there that if they go

differently, it’s probably a much better result.”

The Falcons started five rookies on defense, including three in

the secondary.

The Falcons held out safety Thomas DeCoud, who is recovering

from a concussion. Rookie safety Zeke Motta made his first

start.

Rookie offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder also made his first start

for Atlanta.

Morris had 98 yards rushing on 18 carries, including a 37-yard

run.

Cousins lost a fumble on the Redskins’ first possession and set

up the Falcons’ go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter with

his first of two interceptions.

The Falcons led 24-20 with less than 6 minutes remaining before

Trufant’s interception set up Matt Bryant’s 51-yard field goal.

The teams combined for six turnovers in the first half,

including four turnovers by the Redskins. There were lost fumbles

on three straight plays in the second quarter.

The Redskins had an excellent scoring opportunity at the Atlanta

18 following a 62-yard pass from Cousins to Aldrick Robinson.

On first down from the 18, Morris lost the ball without being

hit, and Malliciah Goodman recovered for Atlanta.

The Falcons gave the ball back when Matt Ryan fumbled when hit

by Ryan Kerrigan. On the next play, Cousins passed to Moss, who

lost the ball when stripped by Robert McClain. William Moore

recovered for Atlanta.

Ryan completed 29 of 38 passes for 210 yards with one touchdown

and one interception.

Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez had six catches for 62 yards and

a touchdown. He became the fifth player in NFL history with 15,000

yards receiving.

NOTES: The Redskins also lost five fumbles against the Oilers on

Oct. 30, 1988. … Garcon had seven catches for 129 yards,

including a 53-yard touchdown. … Falcons DT Jonathan Babineaux

recovered two fumbles. … Signs spotted in the stands held by

Redskins fans: ”Free RGIII,” ”Let `em play” and ”We still

believe in RGIII.” … Falcons LB Sean Weatherspoon left the game

with a knee injury.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org