Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins made his NFL debut after fellow rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III left Sunday's game with a concussion, and it was a mixed bag.
Cousins hit veteran wide receiver Santana Moss with a 77-yard touchdown pass that gave the Redskins a fourth-quarter lead. But his performance ended with two interceptions thrown on the final two drives as Washington lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 24-17.
"It's difficult," Cousins said. "But you don't sign up to play the game at this level not expecting it to be difficult. So the bottom line is I didn't get it done the way I wanted to today. But what I have to look at, the perspective I'm taking, is I'm going to learn from it, get better. And I'm going to pick up things that are invaluable going forward."
Entering the game late in the third quarter, Cousins completed five of nine passes for 111 yards. At the start of the season, the Redskins chose to make Cousins, a fourth-round draft selection in April out of Michigan State, their primary backup to Griffin, ahead of veteran Rex Grossman.
"It's a growing experience," Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said. "I've got a lot of confidence in Kirk, too. We'll see where it leads us."
Shanahan wouldn't say if Cousins would start next Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field if Griffin can't play. Under NFL rules, Griffin must be cleared by an independent neurologist before being allowed to practice or play.
"We'll make the decision that we think gives us the best chance to win," Shanahan said of the possible choice between Cousins and Grossman. "We'll sit back and make those decisions at a later time."
Cousins gave the Redskins a 17-14 lead with 12 minutes 24 seconds to play when he connected with Moss after the receiver had gotten behind the Falcons' secondary.
After Atlanta got a tying field goal and then a go-ahead touchdown, Cousins threw his first interception on a pass intended for tight end Fred Davis. His second interception came when he was trying to connect with Moss again.
"I think the first one, he could have dumped it over the middle," Shanahan said. "The second one, our receiver got jammed down the field."
"Both of them were just trying to do too much." Cousins said. "I'll learn from it. I need to take the check-down. You want to come back. You just want to do too much. I think I'll learn from it and next time I'll take the check-down."