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Griffin benched, Cousins to start for Redskins

Ashburn, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan has made a change at quarterback and will start Kirk Cousins instead of Robert Griffin III for Sunday's game against Atlanta.

In fact, Griffin won't play again this season.

Shanahan gave an indication that he might make the switch on Monday, saying such a move would be to keep Griffin healthy heading into the offseason. The second-year quarterback made a quick recovery from major knee surgery performed last January, but has struggled for most of the 2013 campaign and Shanahan said Wednesday the quarterback has taken far too many hits recently.

After conferring with owner Daniel Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen, Shanahan said Wednesday the decision to sit Griffin was made in the best interests of the player.

"At the end of the day we felt the best thing to do for Robert was to not play him, so he can go into an offseason healthy," said Shanahan on Wednesday. "Any time you miss time in the offseason, it sets you back. A quarterback needs an offseason program, it's important to him."

Griffin appeared disappointed by the move, but said the decision was out of his hands.

"Coach decided to shut me down for the rest of the season," said a dour Griffin on Wednesday. "I expressed my desire to play, but he explained his reasoning and I have to do whatever I can to help Kirk and the team.

"(Shanahan) just wanted to make sure I got to the offseason free of injury so I could have a really good offseason."

The Redskins have followed a surprising division title from 2012 with a likely last-place finish this year. They've lost five straight games and are just 3-10 heading down the stretch.

Griffin was the NFL's top offensive rookie last year when the Redskins won their final seven games and captured the NFC East title, but he suffered a significant knee injury during the team's first-round playoff loss to Seattle in January.

The former Heisman Trophy winner's rehab process during the offseason was the biggest story for the Redskins heading into training camp. There had been speculation that he may have come back too soon, but all indications are that he is now healthy with three games left.

"Every player wants to play," Griffin added. "Any quarterback wants to finish out the season with his team. It's coach's decision and you have to respect that authority. In this instance, he's telling me to shut it down and I can't fight that."

Griffin has completed 60.1 percent of his passes for 3,230 yards with 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season. His rushing numbers have plummeted greatly from a year ago, with just 489 this season compared to 815 in 2012.

"I think it was tough enough, coming off (the injuries)," Shanahan added, emphasizing that he had the support of Snyder and Allen in the decision. "At the end of the day, if you miss the whole offseason again, the chances of coming back again would be very, very tough and I didn't want to put him in that situation again. I don't think it's worth the risk for this organization."

Cousins, a fourth-round pick by the Redskins a year ago, made one start last season in place of an injured Griffin and this year has appeared in two games. He has completed 12-of-25 passes for 107 yards with two interceptions in his limited action this season.

"I think it's a great opportunity to show what I'm capable of," said Cousins on Wednesday. "Football's a team game and you're only as good as the guys around you. The guys are going to help me and I'm going to help them. We're going to do our best to get a win against the Atlanta Falcons."

Cousins said he doesn't believe he is auditioning to be the quarterback for next season.

"Even as I start this week, I believe this is Robert's team," Cousins said. "He is the franchise quarterback."

Griffin will be the third quarterback on Sunday and Rex Grossman will be the backup to Cousins.

The Redskins, following Sunday's tilt, will close the year against division rivals Dallas and the New York Giants.

12/11 14:24:03 ET

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Standings

 2013 American Football Conference Standings 
East Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-New England 12 4 0 .750 444 338 8-0 4-4 4-2 9-3
NY Jets 8 8 0 .500 290 387 6-2 2-6 3-3 5-7
Miami 8 8 0 .500 317 335 4-4 4-4 2-4 7-5
Buffalo 6 10 0 .375 339 388 4-4 2-6 3-3 5-7
 
North Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Cincinnati 11 5 0 .688 430 305 8-0 3-5 3-3 8-4
Pittsburgh 8 8 0 .500 379 370 5-3 3-5 4-2 6-6
Baltimore 8 8 0 .500 320 352 6-2 2-6 3-3 6-6
Cleveland 4 12 0 .250 308 406 3-5 1-7 2-4 3-9
 
South Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Indianapolis 11 5 0 .688 391 336 6-2 5-3 6-0 9-3
Tennessee 7 9 0 .438 362 381 3-5 4-4 2-4 6-6
Jacksonville 4 12 0 .250 247 449 1-7 3-5 3-3 4-8
Houston 2 14 0 .125 276 428 1-7 1-7 1-5 2-10
 
West Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Denver 13 3 0 .813 606 399 7-1 6-2 5-1 9-3
x-Kansas City 11 5 0 .688 430 305 5-3 6-2 2-4 7-5
x-San Diego 9 7 0 .563 396 348 5-3 4-4 4-2 6-6
Oakland 4 12 0 .250 322 453 3-5 1-7 1-5 4-8
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
 2013 National Football Conference Standings 
East Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Philadelphia 10 6 0 .625 442 382 4-4 6-2 4-2 9-3
Dallas 8 8 0 .500 439 432 5-3 3-5 5-1 7-5
NY Giants 7 9 0 .438 294 383 4-4 3-5 3-3 6-6
Washington 3 13 0 .188 334 478 2-6 1-7 0-6 1-11
 
North Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Green Bay 8 7 1 .531 417 428 4-3-1 4-4 3-2-1 6-5-1
Chicago 8 8 0 .500 445 478 5-3 3-5 2-4 4-8
Detroit 7 9 0 .438 395 376 4-4 3-5 4-2 6-6
Minnesota 5 10 1 .344 391 480 5-3 0-7-1 2-3-1 4-7-1
 
South Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Carolina 12 4 0 .750 366 241 7-1 5-3 5-1 9-3
x-New Orleans 11 5 0 .688 414 304 8-0 3-5 5-1 9-3
Atlanta 4 12 0 .250 353 443 3-5 1-7 1-5 3-9
Tampa Bay 4 12 0 .250 288 389 3-5 1-7 1-5 2-10
 
West Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Seattle 13 3 0 .813 417 231 7-1 6-2 4-2 10-2
x-San Francisco 12 4 0 .750 406 272 6-2 6-2 5-1 9-3
Arizona 10 6 0 .625 379 324 6-2 4-4 2-4 6-6
St. Louis 7 9 0 .438 348 364 5-3 2-6 1-5 4-8
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
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Scoreboard
Local
Final
DUR 3
NOR 2
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
Final
PHI 1
ATL 0
Final
DET 7
CLE 5
Final
MIN 7
TOR 0
Final
TEX 8
SEA 6
Final
SFG 1
LOS 2
Final
SDP 1
COL 3
Final
PIT 11
MIL 2
Final
WAS 0
STL 8
Final
TAM 2
NYY 10
Final
MIN 9
TOR 5
Final
CWS 1
BOS 3
Final
HOU 1
KAN 5
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
MIL
 
7:05pm Tonight
WAS
STL
 
7:05pm Tonight
CLE
TOR
 
7:08pm Tonight
DET
ANA
 
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
ATL
 
7:10pm Tonight
BOS
BAL
 
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
NYY
 
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
SEA
 
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
CWS
 
8:10pm Tonight
KAN
MIN
 
8:40pm Tonight
COL
PHI
 
10:05pm Tonight
OAK
HOU
 
10:10pm Tonight
LOS
ARI
 
10:10pm Tonight
SDP
SFG
 
Final
NYR 4
PHI 1
Final
STL 4
CHI 3
Final
COL 5
MIN 4
Final
SJS 6
LOS 3
7:00pm Tonight
TAM
MON
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
DET
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
DAL
Final
DUR 3
NOR 2
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR