Kirk Cousins completed 70 percent of his passes, threw two touchdowns and recovered from an early mistake in his first career start to lead the Washington Redskins to a 38-21 victory against the Browns in Cleveland on Sunday.
The Browns got on the board in the first quarter after Cousins, who replaced injured rookie Robert Griffin III, threw an interception. Cleveland safety T.J. Ward returned the pick to the 6-yard line and Trent Richardson scored the first touchdown of the day with 8:50 left in the first quarter.
The Redskins' rookie quarterback would recover in his first career start, tossing a 54-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Hankerson to tie the game. Kicker Kai Forbath added a 44-yard field goal in the second, but Cleveland responded with a methodical, 75-yard drive that ended with Richardson's second touchdown of the game with 1:14 left in the second quarter. Cleveland led, 14-10, at halftime.
Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden threw an interception to Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson on the second offensive play of the second half, and the return to the 15-yard line set up Alfred Morris' three-yard touchdown score as Washington regained the lead.
The Cousins-Hankerson connection struck again halfway through the third quarter as the Redskins took a 24-14 lead. They added an Evan Royster touchdown run early in the fourth, and the Browns used a 69-yard touchdown pass from Weeden to Travis Benjamin to pull within 31-21 with 10 minutes left in the game.
Morris finished off the Browns with his second touchdown run with five minutes to play.
Winners: Cousins, who led the Redskins to a win with 329 yards through the air and recovered from an early interception. With his play, the Redskins joined the 1994 Washington team and the 2010 Arizona Cardinals as the only teams in the past 25 years to win games with two different rookie starting quarterbacks, according to Trey Wingo.
Losers: In a case of the more experienced rookie being outplayed, Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden completed 21 of 35 passes for 244 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Cyanide: the official snack of the Cleveland Browns— Steven Steffas (@StevenSteffas) December 16, 2012
GIF: Brandon Weeden decides to take the sack when the Browns went for it on a fourth down with his team trailing by 10.
Stat of the game: Richardson scored a touchdown in the first quarter. It was his 10th of the season, which set the team's rookie record that was previously nine. That record was set by Jim Brown in 1957.
Fantasy studs and duds: Richardson scored two touchdowns, but he had just 11 rushes for 28 yards -- 14 of those came on his longest run -- thanks to little opportunity presented by his offensive line. He was outplayed by Morris, who had 27 runs for 87 yards and two touchdowns.
Odds: Cleveland opened as a slim favorite and the spread increased to four points as the Redskins surprised.
Injury info: Cleveland's Ward limped off the field after suffering a knee injury and headed to the locker room. He did not return. Defensive lineman Frostee Rucker left in the fourth quarter with an injured groin.