End 4Q: Redskins 38, Browns 21—The Browns’ three game winning streak came to an end on Sunday. Evan Royster put Washington up 31-14 early in the quarter with a 4-yard touchdown run. Weeden then hit Travis Benjamin on a fly route for a 69-yard touchdown just over a minute later to remain within striking distance at 31-21. The Redskins and backup quarterback Kirk Cousins then drove down the field and put the game out of reach on Morris’ 8-yard touchdown run with just over five minutes to play. Ward did not return with a knee injury, and Frostee Rucker left the game with an injured groin. Weeden finished the day 21-35 passing for 244 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Richardson ended up with only 28 yards rushing, though he did score two touchdowns. Cousins, on the other hand, was 26-37 passing for 329 yards, two touchdowns and one interceptions.
End 3Q: Redskins 24, Browns 14—The Redskins offense looked comfortable moving the ball in the third quarter, and Weeden looked equally uncomfortable. Weeden threw two interceptions, and had a couple others batted down. The Redskins turned the first pick into an Alfred Morris touchdown run that gave Washington a 17-14 lead. Using the play-action pass, Cousins orchestrated a second scoring drive that was capped by a two-yard pass to Hankerson. Safety T.J. Ward left the field with a couple of minutes left in the quarter and walked to the locker room as the quarter ended. His return is questionable with a knee injury.
End 2Q: Browns 14, Redskins 10—The Redskins took the lead on a 44-yard field goal by Kai Forbath with 5:46 left in the half. Brandon Weeden answered by hitting Josh Gordon on back-to-back first-down passes, and he then found Greg Little for 30 yards on a crossing pattern. Josh Cribbs lined up in the Wild Cat and carried the ball to the 7-yard line for a 16-yard gain, setting up a Trent Richardson 1-yard touchdown run, his second score of the day. Richardson appeared to score on the play before from the 3-yard line, but the play was reversed after a booth challenge. Brandon Weeden is 13-20 for 88 yards. Richardson has 28 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.
End 1Q: Browns 7, Redskins 7—Playing a Redskins offense without Robert Griffin III, the Browns defense pinned its ears back—on their first four drives, Kirk Cousins and the Redskins totaled only seven yards, no first downs and an interception. Cousins tried to find Pierre Garcon but Sheldon Brown tipped the pass and T.J. Ward intercepted it and took it 37 yards the other way, down to the Washington 6-yard line. Trent Richardson took the first carry, was met a couple yards short of the goal line but with the help of a few offensive lineman pushed the pile into the end zone. That was Richardson’s 10th rushing TD of the season, breaking Jim Brown’s 1957 team record for rushing touchdowns as a rookie. Richardson later was tackled by London Fletcher, who appeared to kick him in the groin after the play. After nearly zero production, Cousins hit receiver Leonard Hankerson for a 54-yard touchdown late in the quarter. Hankerson beat Sheldon Brown and Usama Young couldn’t get over in time.
Inactives: Browns – cornerback Trevin Wade, free safety Eric Hagg, running back Brandon Jackson, tight end Brad Smelley, fullback Owen Marecic, guard Jarrod Shaw and wide receiver Josh Cooper. Redskins – quarterback Robert Griffin III (knee), wide receivers Brandon Banks and Dezmon Briscoe, linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy, guards Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis and offensive tackle Tom Compton.
Lineup changes: Browns – none expected. Redskins – Kirk Cousins will start at quarterback in place of Griffin. Rex Grossman will serve as Cousins’ backup.
Storylines by Stephanie Storm: 1. The Browns seem to have caught a big break because Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, the second overall pick, is inactive and will be replaced in the starting lineup today by rookie Kirk Cousins, a fourth-round pick. Rex Grossman will serve as the backup to Cousins. The Browns, though, shouldn't overlook Cousins. After Griffin mildly sprained the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee, Cousins came to the rescue by throwing a touchdown pass and running for a two-point conversion to force overtime last week in the Redskins' 31-28 win over the Baltimore Ravens. 2. Today’s game features two of the NFL’s youngest offenses on the upswing after struggling earlier in the season. The Redskins (7-6) have won four in a row after losing three in a row. The Browns (5-8) opened the season 0-5 but are 3-1 since their bye week and have won three in a row entering their home finale. Both teams are still in the mix for a playoff berth but the Browns need to win their three final games of the season to remain in the wild-card hunt. 3. The Redskins outbid the Browns for the right to draft Griffin in April, but he wasn’t the only one who got away. The Browns also missed out in free agency on receivers Josh Morgan and former Mount Union standout Pierre Garcon, both of whom signed with the Redskins. Morgan left the San Francisco 49ers for a five-year deal worth $12 million over the first two years with $7.5 million guaranteed. Garcon left the Indianapolis Colts to sign a $42.5 million, five-year deal. “They lead the league in rushing, so [opponents] have to focus on that,” Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said. “That gives [Morgan and Garcon] single coverage and they are good at exploiting it.” 4. Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress compared Redskins linebacker London Fletcher to a dinosaur: “He has been around forever,” Childress said. “I think I can remember competing against him on three different teams, back when he had three different names on the back of his jersey. It’s amazing that a guy playing that position could still be as effective as he is.” Fletcher, a Cleveland native who attended Villa Angela-St. Joseph High and John Carroll University, is in his 15th season in the NFL. An All-Pro in 2011, Fletcher has 109 tackles this season with a sack, a forced fumble and three interceptions. He will play his 238th consecutive game today, tied for the longest active streak in the NFL. 5. There are several coaching connections between the two teams. Redskins defensive line coach Jacob Burney spent two seasons (1994-95) in the same role with the Browns. … Redskins linebackers coach Bob Slowik spent the 1999 season as the Browns’ defensive coordinator. … Browns senior assistant/defensive coach Ray Rhodes was the Redskins’ defensive coordinator in 2000. … Browns players with Washington-area connections are Johnson Bademosi (native of Silver Springs, Md.), Josh Cribbs (native of Washington, D.C.), Joe Haden (native of Fort Washington, Md.), D’Qwell Jackson (played at University of Maryland), Ahtyba Rubin (born in Fort Belvoir, Va.), Phil Taylor (native of Clinton, Md.) and Usama Young (native of Largo, Md.).
Links to preview stories via Ohio.com: 1. Browns motivated by slim playoff hopes and seem to have caught break with RG3 not starting. 2. Matchup of the week: Redskins running back Alfred Morris. 3. Marla Ridenour’s column: Browns’ 4-3 defense worth saving even if team is restructured. 4. Keys to the game. 5. Numbers to watch. 6. Injury report. 7. Predictions.