On the play in question, then-quarterback Kirk Cousins took a knee at the Eagles’ 6-yard line rather than spike the ball before halftime when they were up 16-10. They missed a clear opportunity to add to their lead in a decision that baffled everyone.
Washington went on to win the game and the NFC East division. But the move still confuses people to this day. At the time, responsibility for the gaffe was placed on Gruden and Cousins.
But in a recent interview on the Kevin Sheehan Show, Gruden changed the narrative a bit. He said that wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson were actually at fault.
“That was Pierre [Garcon] and DeSean [Jackson’s] fault,” Gruden said, via the Washington Post. “Kirk took a lot of heat for that, but that was all on — I can finally say it — that was Pierre and DeSean. They were two peas in a pod, now. That’s for a whole other podcast.”
Gruden elaborated, explaining that Garcon objected to his play-call of a back-shoulder fade and wouldn’t set up for the play. Jackson did the same, and Cousins was unsure of what to do, and took a knee as a result.
“We had six seconds to go in the half, so we had time for just a back-shoulder fade, complete or incomplete and kick the field goal…” Gruden said. “I want to run the [clock] down and take a shot at a touchdown, what the heck? Pierre hated back-shoulder fades, he hated them. He said, ‘If you call a fade, the ball should be 42 yards over my outside shoulder, that’s the way Peyton Manning threw it [in Indianapolis], that’s the way I want it.’”
That’s a pretty scathing accusation, and one that will likely need some film review to verify.
Ian Eagle describes perfectly the moment that Kirk Cousins lost his mind pic.twitter.com/F2ONyKsewX
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) December 27, 2015
It’ll be interesting to see if Garcon or Jackson themselves offer a different perspective.