Redskins QB Cousins tries to bounce back from tough stretch
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins finished last season on a tear to help lead his team to the NFC East title and a playoff berth.
That level of play has been missing late this season as the Redskins have skidded to three losses in their last four games and now are on the outside looking in at the chase for the final NFC wild-card berth.
Cousins will try to halt the slide when Washington visits the Chicago Bears on Saturday. He has thrown an equal number of touchdown passes and interceptions (three) over the last three games as the offense has consistently struggled in the red zone.
Cousins was also hit and fumbled at the 1 - a play that led to a touchdown - in Monday's disappointing 26-15 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
''Not my first time coming away from a tough loss,'' Cousins said Thursday. ''I've learned through all my years of playing football to just keep going and not ride the roller coaster. Get back to work. Do what you know to do to prepare for the next one.''
Cousins has become far more adept at that over the last year. He caught fire the second half of the 2015 season, throwing for 24 touchdown passes to just three interceptions over the final 11 games ending with a playoff loss to Green Bay.
And after a shaky start in the season opener against Pittsburgh this season, that run of success continued. Cousins broke his franchise record for passing yards Monday and sits at 4,360 with two games to go.
He has 23 touchdowns to 10 interceptions with two games to play and a 98.3 quarterback rating. Only five quarterbacks have posted a higher rating this season among 25 qualified.
''Kirk always stayed positive on Monday that we can fix the things we did wrong,'' right guard Brandon Scherff said. ''You can't focus on the bad play or the bad game. You've got to flush it and he always seems to be able to do that.''
Cousins and the Redskins (7-6-1) dropped an opportunity to remain the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoff race on Monday. Instead, they fell a half game behind Green Bay (8-6) and Tampa Bay (8-6) for the final spot.
Washington must beat the Bears (3-11) in Chicago for the second year in a row to maintain realistic postseason hopes heading into Week 17.
It isn't all on Cousins. His wide receivers and running backs dropped five passes vs. the Panthers.
Cousins does need to play the way he did in October and November when he posted 13 touchdowns to two interceptions over six games. He was shaky in a loss to Arizona on Dec. 4, rebounded with an efficient game against Philadelphia (14 of 21, 234 yards, two touchdowns) Dec. 11, but was ragged, at best, against Carolina. That won't cut it against Chicago.
''When you win the credit goes to the quarterback and when you lose you know a lot of blame goes to the quarterback,'' Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. ''Sometimes it's deserved, sometimes it's not, but it's just a fact of life in pro football.''
NOTES: The team signed CB Dashaun Phillips off its practice squad and waived WR Rashad Ross. Phillips played in three games earlier this season for the Redskins, starting two. ... TE Jordan Reed (sprained left shoulder), LB Su'a Cravens (upper arm) and CB Quinton Dunbar (concussion) didn't practice Thursday. ... LB Will Compton, who has a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, was limited in practice but is confident he'll be able to play against Chicago after missing the Carolina game.
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