GLENDALE, Arizona — Kirk Cousins dropped back on the first play of a potential game-winning drive and tossed the ball over the middle, hoping to bite off a small chunk of the 86 yards the Washington Redskins had left.
Instead, he threw it right to Arizona safety Rashad Johnson, who returned it 28 yards for a game-sealing touchdown.
Another game, another disappointing loss for the Redskins.
Trailing by four points after three quarters, Washington blew any chance it had of pulling out a much-needed win with four turnovers in the fourth quarter of a 30-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
"I told our team this game is not that hard to figure out," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "The team that makes plays usually wins. The team that doesn't turn the ball over usually wins, the team that creates turnovers. We are not doing anything. It is a broken record every time I stand up here."
The Redskins (1-5) at least had a chance in this game, despite all they had done wrong.
But every time they tried to make a move, the ball ended up in Arizona's hands.
Andre Roberts had the first turnover, losing a fumble after catching a pass over the middle. Cousins followed with interceptions on the next two drives, though shook those off to take the Redskins 64 yards in four plays for a 5-yard touchdown pass to Peirre Garcon.
Even after failing to recover the onside kick, Washington had one final chance, taking over at its own 14, down three with 2:17 left. That's when Cousins uncorked his third interception, ending the Redskins' hopes.
A playoff team just two years ago, the Redskins have gone into a freefall, losing 13 of 14 games and nine straight on the road.
"The turnovers were costly; they didn't give us a chance to stay on the field," said Cousins, who threw for 354 yards and two touchdowns on 24-of-38 passing. "We were moving the football. We've got guys who can help us, but when you turn the ball over, you won't give them a chance to show what they can do. We've got to be a lot better."
Coming off a 10-point loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, the Redskins got off to a solid start against the Cardinals.
Washington's defense was decent, giving up a couple of touchdown passes by Carson Palmer in his return to the lineup, though not many yards.
After a 24-yard touchdown catch by Larry Fitzgerald, the Redskins marched quickly down the field for a 43-yard field goal by Forbath that put them up 14-13 at halftime.
Arizona's defense turned up the pressure in the second half, though, and the Redskins didn't have much of an answer.
The Cardinals (4-1) held Washington to 27 yards in the third quarter and went on its turnover spree in the fourth quarter, securing a spot atop the NFC West despite a slew of injuries that have struck the team recently.
"It speaks volume to the character of our defense," said Johnson, who had two interceptions in the fourth quarter. "We're just a mature group that steps in and does what we're coached to do. Nobody tries to play above their ability or outside the scheme and everyone sells out for one another."
The Cardinals entered the game with an uncertain situation at quarterback.
Palmer had been out since Sept. 8 with a nerve issue in his throwing shoulder and backup Drew Stanton suffered a concussion last week.
After all three quarterbacks warmed up — with rookie Logan Thomas — Palmer was under center to start the game.
Though there were signs of rust, Palmer was solid in his first game in a month, throwing for 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns — one was a 20-yarder to Michael Floyd in the first quarter — on 28-of-44 passing.
"He's a tough guy," Cardinals running back Andre Ellington said. "He's our leader and he wasn't going to let us down."
Notes: Fitzgerald's touchdown catch was the 88th of his career, passing Don Maynard for 12th on the NFL's all-time list. ... Outgoing Navajo Nation president Ben Shelly watched the game with Washington owner Dan Snyder while wearing a Redskins hat. Snyder has been pressured by Native American groups, some of which protested outside the stadium, to change the team name, calling it racist. ... Roberts' knee appeared to be down on his fourth-quarter fumble, but the officials allowed the call to stand. The Redskins were furious that the call wasn't overturned, but referee Ed Hochuli told a pool reporter that the replay was inconclusive on when the ball came loose.
All content copyright ©2014 Daily Journal, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.