On the Washington Redskins' very first possession Thursday night, Kirk Cousins was sacked and stripped of the football.
He was just getting started giving the ball away.
Cousins wound up with five turnovers — that early fumble, plus four second-half picks — and the quarterback's generosity helped the New York Giants beat the Redskins 45-14. Washington coach Jay Gruden called it "abysmal," ''a total team debacle," and a "slap in the face."
"I don't know if I'd use the word 'slap,'" Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather said. "It's more like a knockout."
Antrel Rolle, Prince Amukamara, Quintin Demps and Trumaine McBride each grabbed an interception, and McBride also contributed to Washington's sixth turnover, recovering tight end Logan Paulsen's fumble late in the second quarter. All told, the Giants (2-2) scored 31 points off giveaways by the Redskins (1-3).
"I've got to look at my play, because that was killing us at the end there," said Cousins, who finished 19 for 33 for 257 yards, one touchdown pass and all those errors. "There was too many times tonight where I — or we — made mistakes."
He was making his second consecutive start in place of 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III, who is sidelined by a dislocated left ankle.
In one particularly poor third-quarter stretch — one that began when the game actually was still close, with New York's lead only 10 points — Cousins threw three interceptions in a span of five passes. Griffin has never thrown three interceptions in an entire NFL game.
"I was trying to get everything back in one play," Cousins said. "I was trying to force things."
Cousins, a fourth-round draft pick the same year Heisman Trophy winner Griffin was the No. 1 overall selection, was coming off a 427-yard passing performance in a 37-34 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday. He had his problems that day, too, including failing to gain a single yard when Washington started its final drive at Philadelphia's 41.
But this was an entirely different display, with poor throws and poorer judgment.
After one of his interceptions, Cousins trudged over to the sideline, plopped himself down on the bench and dropped his head, looking forlorn as could be.
"He was trying to create a spark offensively and there was no spark there," Gruden said.
He also wanted to make clear he didn't think Cousins deserved all the blame for the lopsided outcome.
And others agreed.
"Tonight, we wouldn't have beat anybody. We wouldn't have beat Williams & Mary. We wouldn't have beat Virginia Tech," safety Ryan Clark said. "Any other team close to here that they could have picked to play us — I think there's a high school team ranked in the top 10; we wouldn't have beat them."
There was plenty of other bad news for Washington, too, not the least of which was the defense's inability to slow Giants quarterback Eli Manning's dink-and-dunk approach. And a Redskins roster already depleted by injuries — in addition to Griffin's extended absence, for example, top cornerback DeAngelo Hall is done for the season — absorbed some more.
Left tackle Trent Williams left Thursday's game with a strained right knee, defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins left in the first half for X-rays on his bruised ribs, and tight end Niles Paul walked off woozy with a concussion after being leveled by a helmet-to-helmet hit.
Yet the Redskins trailed only by 24-14 after Alfred Morris' 20-yard TD run on the second half's opening drive. Shortly after that, though, Cousins began regularly throwing the ball to the Giants.
"After the first turnover, we were still in it. After the second turnover, you still were in it," Cousins said. "It just started to snowball. And then you get late in the fourth and they've got a big lead and it just becomes insurmountable."
Notes: Morris ran 12 times for 63 yards. ... Roy Helu led Washington with five catches for 78 yards. Pierre Garcon had only two catches, Andre Roberts one. ... Manning finished 28 for 39 for 300 yards, four touchdown passes and one interception. He also ran for a score.
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