- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: Not everything was Robert Griffin III's fault. And you can’t start dreaming of a first-round pick in exchange for Kirk Cousins, although he showed plenty to still make him intriguing. It also means that you can’t turn the ball over seven times and expect to beat any team, even one that shares a 3-10 record. Cousins had some terrific moments and showed positives, but he also made a couple of bad throws that led to costly interceptions. Cousins looked like a young quarterback making his second NFL start. But he does a good job ignoring past mistakes and nearly led a comeback win. Cousins is a more aggressive passer than Griffin, which works for and against him. The Falcons seemed to have a good handle on Washington’s passing attack in the second half, as the Redskins did not sustain momentum from the end of the first half. The Redskins have now lost at least 11 games for the fifth time in owner Dan Snyder's tenure.
Two-point failure: The Redskins, with nothing to lose, went for a two-point conversion with 18 seconds left in the game rather than force overtime. They played for the win, and it’s tough to blame them. The Redskins had hurt Atlanta on rub routes and picks throughout the game. It appeared they tried another one on the right side, but the Falcons picked it up and denied Pierre Garcon the go-ahead points.
Costly mistakes: With their seven turnovers, the Redskins turned the ball over half as many times in this game -- against a 3-10 team that had forced 12 all season -- as they had in all of 2012. This statistic also is a big reason the Redskins are 3-11 (and the 14 turnovers last year explain why they were 10-6). The Falcons turned those turnovers into 20 points. Plus, there were two fumbles by running back Alfred Morris deep in Atlanta territory and a third by receiver Santana Moss that cost Washington a chance for at least three field goals and maybe more.
Stock report: Going up: Linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive lineman Chris Baker both played outstanding games. Orakpo was disruptive, generating pressure, sacks and penalties and not always off one aspect of his game. He won with speed, going around the edge, and strength driving into the tackle and cutting inside. Baker did a nice job with penetration and shedding blocks at the line. Going down: Funny thing is, Cousins had a strong game but turned it over three times; Morris had a good game but fumbled twice. The defense surrendered 27 points, and there was the usual soft zone coverage, but it did its job quite a bit, too.
Up next: The Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys, giving them a chance to spoil someone’s playoff hopes in their home finale.