CLEVELAND - The Browns knew it was coming, but they seemed helpless to react to the stream of bootleg plays run by the Washington Redskins.
Struggling against the boot action of quarterback Robert Griffin III would have been understandable, but watching backup Kirk Cousins have success was somewhat surprising. Cousins, who got the start because of a knee injury that sidelined Griffin, completed the majority of his passes after freezing defenders on the bootleg.
It was all set up by the Redskins' stretch runs. When Cousins faked stretch handoffs to running back Alfred Morris, he turned in the opposite direction and had room to either run or complete passes to receivers running crossing routes.
Cousins' style is different than the athletic style of Griffin, but he has a pair of quick feet.
"You don't see the defenses as concerned about my ability to run, obviously," Cousins said. "Aside from that, very similar I think. As much as Robert wants to show people he can be a pocket passer, which he can, I want to show people that I can move around a little bit. I think I did that today."
Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson couldn't remember a game in which the opposition ran as many bootlegs as did the Redskins.
"You don't think a boot would have that much success against a defense, but it did," Jackson said. "The stretch that they run; the offensive linemen look exactly the same against the run or pass. I was able to get great keys on it. It's hard to defend 15 boots. That usually happens on third-and-short or fourth downs.
"They executed well. We could have done some things better. It's one of those frustrating losses. This was one we could have had."
IN PERSPECTIVE: Browns coach Pat Shurmur took time at the end of his post-game press conference to express his condolences to the families of the victims killed in the mass shooting at Newtown, Conn., last Friday.
"We all know in some indirect way that we're all involved," Shurmur said. "If we can learn anything from it, let's not leave anything unsaid. If you have an opportunity to hug your child, let's not let anything go. Anything happening tomorrow isn't guaranteed. Our thoughts and prayers go to anyone in Newtown that's been affected by this."
RECORD-BREAKER: Running back Trent Richardson scored touchdowns on runs of 6 yards and 1 yard to push his season total of rushing scores to 11. He broke the previous team rookie record of nine set by Jim Brown in 1957.
FIESTY ACTION: Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon, who played at Mount Union College, had six receptions for 65 yards. He was penalized for taunting when he spun the ball on the ground after making a catch.
Garcon was involved in several shouting matches with Browns' defenders.
"I wasn't really worried about Garcon," Browns cornerback Joe Haden said. "I did my thing against him. It wasn't really him. It was a whole lot of other people doing their thing."
POSTGAME HANDSHAKES: Haden and Cousins met on the field immediately after the game ended. The two attended the same camp while in high school. Haden was a quarterback and defensive back at the time.
INJURY REPORT: Safety T.J. Ward suffered a knee injury in the second half. He remained on the sideline for several plays before going to the locker room. He didn't return. Defensive end Frostee Rucker injured a groin late in the game and didn't return.
LOOKING GOOD: Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was inactive because of a sprained right knee. He practiced last week but apparently didn't show enough to convince team doctors that he should play.
Griffin was in athletic gear and working out two hours before kick off. He ran around the perimeter of the field and then threw several passes before going back to the locker room.
"I feel like I could have played this week, next week, the week after that," Griffin said. "That's not my decision once again."
INACTIVES: Out for the Browns were defensive backs Trevin Wade and Eric Hagg; running back Brandon Jackson; tight end Brad Smelley; fullback Owen Marecic; offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw and receiver Josh Cooper.
In addition to Griffin, out for the Redskins were receivers Brandon Banks and Dezmon Briscoe; linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy; guard Josh LeRibeus; tackle Tom Compton and guard Adam Gettis.