LANDOVER, Md. (AP) Forget everything you thought you knew about the importance of the passing game in today’s NFL. Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden and new general manager Scot McCloughan want to win by moving the football on the ground.
And thanks to rookie running back Matt Jones and an offensive line led by left tackle Trent Williams, the Redskins did just that Sunday.
Jones ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns, an efficient Kirk Cousins avoided turnovers, and the Redskins dominated for a half, then held on to beat the St. Louis Rams 24-10.
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”I can’t say enough good things about the way our offensive line has played,” said Cousins, 23 for 27 for 203 yards and a 4-yard TD pass to Pierre Garcon. ”I feel like I could give you five reasons for us playing so well, and it’d be those five guys.”
Cousins did not throw an interception – his pair of picks a week ago gave him 21 in 15 career games – and was sacked only twice. Jones and Alfred Morris had plenty of room to rumble: Washington outrushed St. Louis 182-67.
”That is the blueprint that we have to have. We have a young quarterback. We don’t want to throw the ball 50 times,” Gruden said. ”We want to run the ball, be physical.”
Jones, a third-round draft pick out of Florida, scored from 39 yards in the first quarter, and from 3 with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the fourth. After his first TD, he jumped into the front row of the stands. After the second, Jones clapped his hands together, doing his college’s ”Gator Chomp” celebration.
”He ran like his hair was on fire today,” Williams said.
With their revamped defense looking good for the second game in a row, the Redskins (1-1) led 17-0 at halftime, the first time they shut out an opponent in the first half since Oct. 2, 2011, also against the Rams (1-1).
Jones gave credit to Morris, the fourth-year back who topped 100 yards in Washington’s Week 1 loss to Miami, with teaching him ”everything I know now.”
And Jones thanked Williams for offering encouragement after the running back fumbled in the third quarter, setting up Nick Foles’ 40-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Britt that got the Rams within 17-10.
”I told him just to hold on to it, put that play in the rearview mirror and continue to play hard,” Williams said. ”And he did.”
Cousins directed a 12-play, 77-yard drive that ate up more than 6 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter and was capped by Jones’ second score.
”We knew that in order for us to win the game we were going to have to run it, and stop the run, and get off the field on third down,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said, ”and we didn’t do any one of those with any consistency.”
His club was 2 for 12 on third downs, including punts on each of its first six possessions. Foles was 17 for 32 for 150 yards; he said he was OK after a defender rolled on his left leg on the Rams’ final drive.
A week ago, the Rams beat the two-time reigning NFC champion Seattle Seahawks 34-31 in overtime. But St. Louis is now only 2-15 since 2005 in regular-season games immediately following a game against Seattle.
”Do I feel like this is one that we should have won? Absolutely,” tight end Jared Cook said. ”We’re a better team than what we portrayed today.”
NOTES: Several Redskins defensive linemen wore red Washington Nationals baseball jerseys, personalized with their nicknames and Redskins uniform numbers. … When St. Louis beat Washington 24-0 last season, Fisher tweaked the Redskins during the pregame coin toss, sending out six players acquired thanks to the massive trade that allowed Washington to pick Robert Griffin III second overall in the 2012 draft. This time, Fisher went with captains such as Foles; Griffin, meanwhile, was not even in uniform, inactive as the No. 3 QB behind Cousins and Colt McCoy.
This story has been corrected to show Cousins threw for 203 yards.
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