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Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III tosses a ball during warmups before an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. Kirk Cousins will start in place of Griffin wgho is sitting out with a sprained knee. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
NFL: Redskins 38, Browns 21
First Published Dec 16 2012 02:20 pm • Last Updated Dec 20 2012 04:39 pm

Cleveland » Robert Griffin III watched as the Redskins’ other rookie quarterback won again.

Rookie Kirk Cousins threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns filling in for an injured Griffin, leading Washington to its fifth straight win, 38-21 over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

At a glance

Washington 38, Cleveland 21

Washington 7 3 14 14 — 38

Cleveland 7 7 0 7 — 21

First Quarter

Cle » Richardson 6 run (Dawson kick), 8:41.

Was » Hankerson 54 pass from Cousins (Forbath kick), 2:16.

Second Quarter

Was » FG Forbath 44, 5:46.

Cle » Richardson 1 run (Dawson kick), 1:11.

Third Quarter

Was » Morris 3 run (Forbath kick), 13:14.

Was » Hankerson 2 pass from Cousins (Forbath kick), 7:40.

Fourth Quarter

Was » Royster 4 run (Forbath kick), 11:19.

Cle » Benjamin 69 pass from Weeden (Dawson kick), 10:11.

Was » Morris 8 run (Forbath kick), 5:00.

Attendance » 65,083.

Was Cle

First downs 25 13

Total Net Yards 430 291

Rushes-yards 35-122 15-58

Passing 308 233

Punt Returns 2-18 2-15

Kickoff Returns 1-22 7-191

Interceptions Ret. 2-25 1-37

Comp-Att-Int 26-37-1 21-35-2

Sacked-Yards Lost 2-21 2-11

Punts 5-42.6 6-42.0

Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-0

Penalties-yards 6-45 5-30

Time of Possession 36:17 23:43

Individual Statistics

Rushing » Washington, Morris 27-87, Cousins 3-22, Young 3-10, Royster 2-3. Cleveland, Richardson 11-28, Cribbs 1-16, Weeden 1-9, Hardesty 2-5.

Passing » Washington, Cousins 26-37-1-329. Cleveland, Weeden 21-35-2-244.

Receiving » Washington, Garcon 6-65, Moss 5-57, Morgan 4-60, Paulsen 4-47, Hankerson 2-56, Royster 2-30, Morris 2-6, Young 1-8. Cleveland, Little 5-74, Cameron 3-34, Gordon 3-27, Richardson 3-4, Massaquoi 2-16, Watson 2-12, Smith 2-8, Benjamin 1-69.

Missed Field Goals » None.

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Cousins connected with Leonard Hankerson for both TDs in his first career start and the Redskins (8-6) barely missed a beat without the talented and multi-dimensional RG3, who sat out with a sprained knee.

Last week, Cousins came off the bench after Griffin got hurt and rallied the Redskins to an overtime win. Cousins was behind center from the start of this one and delivered a performance that extended Washington’s longest winning streak since 2007 and moved the Redskins into a tie for first in the NFC East.

Rookie Trent Richardson had a pair of TD runs for the Browns (5-9).

Alfred Morris, a childhood rival of Richardson, had two touchdowns for the Redskins.

Wearing a burgundy warmup suit instead of his No. 10 jersey, Griffin, who sustained a mild sprain in the fourth quarter last week against Baltimore, cheered from the sideline as Cousins kept the Redskins (8-6) moving toward a possible spot in the playoffs.

Cousins may not have RG3’s talent, but the fourth-round pick from Michigan State was efficient, accurate and only made one major mistake — an early interception to set up Cleveland’s first TD.

Cousins finished 26 of 37 as the Redskins improved to 5-0 since their bye. They’ll end the season with games against NFC East rivals Philadelphia and Dallas, teams they beat in consecutive weeks to start their streak.

Griffin’s playing status was in doubt all week before the Redskins surprisingly announced late Saturday night that Cousins would start. If the Browns thought they were getting a break, Cousins proved to be as challenging to stop as his more elusive and hyped teammate.

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The Browns (5-9) had their winning streak stopped at three and faint playoff hopes snuffed out. Coach Pat Shurmur’s fate may have rested on the Browns winning out, but that won’t happen and his days in Cleveland could be dwindling quickly.

Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden struggled from the outset. He went 21 of 35 for 244 yards and two picks, both leading to Washington touchdowns.

Cousins’ second TD pass to Hankerson, a 2-yarder, gave the Redskins a 24-14 lead. As Cousins came to the sideline, Griffin gave him a fist bump and then sat on the bench with his backup, who for the past two weeks has shown he too can lead the Redskins to victory.

Washington went ahead 31-14 on Evan Royster’s 4-yard run.

Weeden came back with a 69-yard scoring strike to speedy rookie Travis Benjamin to pull the Browns within 10, but Cousins calmly took the Redskins down the field again with Morris scoring from eight to make 38-21.

The Redskins needed this win, and Cousins made sure they got it.

He shook off the early pick and showed exceptional play faking ability. With Griffin out and inactive, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan had to alter his game plan and Cousins ran it with precision.

Linebacker Rob Jackson’s interception of Weeden helped the Redskins take a 17-14 lead less than two minutes into the third quarter on Morris’ 3-yard TD run.

Jackson picked off Weeden and returned it to the 15. Three plays later, Morris pulled in for his eighth rushing TD, tying the team rookie record set by Skip Hicks in 199

Richardson’s second TD run gave the Browns a 14-10 lead with 1:11 left before halftime.

Cleveland’s offense had been in a funk for most of the second quarter before Weeden completed five passes to get the Browns to Washington’s 3. Richardson did the rest, busting over the left side for his 11th rushing TD. Earlier, he broke Hall of Famer Jim Brown’s 55-year-old team rookie record for rushing TDs.

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