We will track quarterback Kirk Cousins all year long in his inaugural season as the Vikings’ signal caller.
Inside the numbers
Passer rating 70.3
Grade: 4 out of 10
Cousins dinked and dunked his way when the Vikings trailed by two touchdowns in the second half. When the Vikings needed a big play, he targeted Aldrick Robinson on a go route for a would-be touchdown from 42 yards away. Instead, the ball was deflected out of Robinson’s hands and tipped into an interception. It exemplified the Vikings’ toothless passing attack in New England, where Cousins’ longest completion was a 24-yard catch and run off a slant route by Stefon Diggs. Cousins threw another pick to seal the loss.
“I think it’s something we have to talk about. Any time you can do as well as we’ve done in that two-minute mode, it’s got to say something about what we do well or trying to emphasize something we could be good at.” – Cousins on whether the Vikings need to use the up-tempo approach more often.
Hurry-up drive: Digging out from another slow start — the third straight game with a three-and-out opening series, to be exact — Cousins found a rhythm with the up-tempo offense just before halftime. Following Diggs’ catch for 24 yards, Cousins drilled a pass to Kyle Rudolph for a 23-yard gain down the seam. Five plays later, Cousins tossed a 5-yard touchdown to Thielen in the corner of the end zone. That was the offense’s best stretch, and left Cousins saying the Vikings need to discuss turning to an up-tempo approach sooner.
Inconsistency: Cousins’ day started by missing running back Dalvin Cook on an open swing pass. The day ended with a desperation throw to Thielen that was intercepted for his second pick of the game. The Vikings passing game sputtered throughout with miscommunication, dropped passes and missed opportunities. Cousins said he missed a wide-open Diggs deep when he threw the long incompletion to Robinson on the other side of the field at the end of the third quarter. The Vikings’ top duo of Diggs and Thielen combined for 10 catches on 15 targets for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Cousins’ 4.6 yards per pass was his lowest efficiency as the Vikings quarterback. He found success against the Packers with a quick-throw approach to let playmakers create after the catch. There wasn’t much room to create against the Patriots, and it appeared New England’s varied and disguised coverages made Cousins think for a second or two too long. That includes the sack in the first quarter, when Cousins had more than enough time to get the ball out, but he looked and looked and took the sack to force a third-and-17 leading to an eventual punt. It was the duo’s lowest output of the season.