This is a quick-reaction blog post filed at the end of the game. My column will be in the Star Tribune and at startribune.com.
Kirk Cousins facing Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field? This could make for years of fun. Daniel Carlson may not be around to enjoy any more of these duels.
Rodgers and Cousins produced a classic on Sunday, and Cousins outperformed the legend, leading the Vikings to a dramatic touchdown drive and two-point conversion at the end of regulation, and then a game-winning drive in overtime. The Vikings were set up to win until Carlson missed two field goals in overtime, leaving the score 29-29 after 70 minutes.
Cousins finished with 425 yards and four touchdown passes, and his only interception was caused by Laquon Treadwell deflecting an accurate pass into the air.
In the months following a 14-victory season, the Vikings added a franchise quarterback, a powerhouse defensive tackle and a talented first-round pick. They were reminded on Sunday that building an attractive roster is not the same thing as winning games, and that dreams of a Super Bowl require facing reality: Competing with Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers for the division title.
Rodgers, playing with a heavy brace on his injured left knee, controlled most of the game, until Cousins began performing like a latter-day Brett Favre.
Either Rodgers was on wonder drugs, isn’t as hurt as we were led to believe...or he’s Superman.
Rodgers moved well within the pocket and even ran for one first down, even if he wasn’t as fast as usual. This game came down to the Vikings’ feared pass rush failing to sack or harass him more.
The Vikings also looked all too confused too often, whether on defensive assignments or when Cousins was trying to figure out where his receivers were running. Add in two key drops by Laquon Treadwell - one of which would have been a first down in Packers’ territory, and another which he tipped into the air for an interception on a key fourth-quarter drive, and Treadwell may have cost the Vikings a game.
It was reasonable to expect some growing pains. The Vikings have a new quarterback, offensive coordinator, a newly-healthy running back and a repaired offensive line. Cousins overcame all of that, only to watch a rookie kicker ruin the day.
The Vikings have found their quarterback. They still need a kicker.
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