While Kirk Cousins and the Redskins’ offense will have to contend with the top-ranked Cardinals defense on Sunday in the Valley of the Sun, unlike their Thanksgiving Day loss in Dallas, they won’t have to worry about being blinded by glare at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Ahead of Washington’s trip to AT&T Stadium last week, Cousins had heard that sunlight shining through the west end zone at Jerry World was an issue during late afternoon games, but he wasn’t prepared for the view that greeted him on a second-quarter drive. Cousins didn’t use the sun as an excuse for the Redskins’ 31-26 loss – after all, the Cowboys dealt with the same elements – but he confirmed during an interview with 106.7 The Fan on Friday that it was darn near impossible to see for part of the first half.
“It was just unfortunate, because we got across midfield, we were rolling, and sure enough, I looked and I could just tell right away before we even had huddled for that play that this is gonna be a problem,” Cousins told Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier. “And I looked at the ref and I said, ‘I can’t see down the field.’ And he said back to me, ‘I can’t either. I mean, I don’t know how you’re doing it.’ “
Washington’s drive ended with kicker Dustin Hopkins missing a 55-yard field goal wide right. “It was unfortunate where the sun was at the time, but when I’m looking down at the ball, that’s not an issue,” Hopkins said after the game.
“You know, it’s disappointing, but we had no one to blame but ourselves in the sense that, hey, it is what it is, both teams had to deal with the elements and we’ve got to make the plays still,” Cousins said. “But it was a unique thing, something you don’t really expect when you come into a stadium and have to deal with that.”
Cousins said the sun also affected at least one play in the first quarter, when the glare was at his back.
“We threw a deep ball to DeSean and he really couldn’t find it,” Cousins said. “When I threw it, I tried to bring him across the field, and by the time he looked back, he couldn’t find the ball and it ended up just falling incomplete. It’s just a part of the deal. Now that the stadium’s been there for several years, it’s kind of become knowledge around the league that if you play at a 4, 4:30 game there in Dallas, it’s gonna be like that. But I guess it was more than I had expected and it was unfortunate, but, like I said, both teams had to deal with it and it’s just part of playing there.”
Indeed, the sun was a factor in the Cowboys’ season-opening, 20-19 loss to the Giants, as Dallas receivers lost three fourth-quarter passes in the glare. That prompted questions about whether Cowboys owner Jerry Jones would consider adding curtains or shades for late afternoon games. Meanwhile, the architects of AT&T Stadium, which opened in 2009, have said the glare isn’t a result of a design flaw, and won’t be an issue when the area to the west side of the stadium is developed. Until then, the sun will continue to be a problem for everyone who plays at Dallas.
“We’re very mindful of where the sun is when we play in our stadium,” Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett said Friday on 105.3 The Fan. “The tricky thing is different players are looking different places throughout the game. Sometimes it works to the benefit of your offense, sometimes it works to the benefit of your defense, or the detriment of each. It plays into the kicking game. Someone told me it was getting into their kicker’s eyes on a couple of those field goals, so it’s a tricky deal. You’ve got to be careful about overanalyzing it. We have a theory as to what we do; it doesn’t mean our theory always works, about which way we want to go relative to the sun. As the game wore on, the sun was not a factor. We came out in the second half and the field looked to me to be pretty shaded the whole way through. Earlier on it was a factor on a couple of those drives.”