The Washington Redskins got off to a fast start, then had to hang on late to defeat the winless San Francisco 49ers, 26-24, at FedEx Field on Sunday.
Washington’s first possession was a thing of beauty, as the eight-play, 75-yard drive culminated with an 11-yard TD pass from Kirk Cousins to wide receiver Josh Doctson. In the second quarter, backup running back Samaje Perine would score on a three-yard screen pass from Cousins, and kicker Dustin Hopkins would add a 48-yard field goal to increase the Washington lead to 17-0.
San Francisco would make a change midway through the second quarter when head coach (and former Redskins OC) Kyle Shanahan replaced quarterback Brian Hoyer with rookie C.J. Beathard, the grandson of former Redskins general manager Bobby Beathard. The new quarterback gave his team a jolt, driving 75 yards in 11 plays for their first score, a one-yard plunge by running back Carlos Hyde, just before the half to cut the lead to 17-7.
And the 49ers kept the momentum going in the third quarter. Kicker Robbie Gould hit a 52-yard field goal to close the score to 17-10, and the defense forced a fumble by Washington tight end Vernon Davis, setting up another one-yard Hyde score to tie the game.
Washington answered in the fourth with a Hopkins field goal and a nine-play, 84-yard drive that ended with Cousins scampering seven yards for the score and a 26-17 lead (Hopkins would miss the PAT attempt).
But San Francisco wouldn’t go away. Beathard threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to former Redskins receiver Aldrick Robinson to cut the lead to two with less than two minutes remaining, and got the ball back for a final drive, but Beathard’s pass attempt was intercepted by defensive back Kendall Fuller to seal the victory.
Washington head coach Jay Gruden said the win marked a turning point for the team.
“You can see that we are starting to turn a corner a little bit when you are not quite as ecstatic as you would normally be after a win,” Gruden said. “I know we can play a lot better.”
Cousins had what Gruden called an “efficient” day — 25 of 37 for 330 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Cousins also rushed for 27 yards and a score.
“I think we did a good job as an offense,” Cousins said. “It wasn’t perfect. There were a couple of mistakes but all in all [we] did a lot of good things.”
Washington (3-2) goes on the road to face the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, Oct. 23.