Tracking Kirk Cousins
We will track quarterback Kirk Cousins all year long in his inaugural season as the Vikings’ signal caller.
Inside the numbers
Passer rating 93.9
Grade: 7 out of 10
On each of the Vikings’ first downs in the opening quarter, Cousins handed off or threw to one of his running backs. Such is how the day started and finished for Cousins, who had one of his more understated games as a Viking. Against a Lions defense allowing more than 140 rushing yards per game entering Sunday, Cousins was going to play more of a managing role as the Vikings got back Dalvin Cook from a hamstring injury and continued to lean on Latavius Murray. At halftime, the Vikings had more rushing yards (106) than passing (94) against the Lions.
Necessary downfield shot: Entering the fourth quarter with a 17-6 lead, Cousins needed to string together a clock-eating drive. A false start by rookie tackle Brian O’Neill created a third-and-9 play out of the gate. Then Cousins made his best throw of the day, delivering a 24-yard strike to tight end Kyle Rudolph, who was draped in coverage by Lions cornerback Teez Tabor. Tabor was flagged for defensive pass interference, which was declined. The pass was exemplary of Cousins’ prowess to make a critical play even if he hadn’t made such a throw until that point in the game. He has made clear he has that ability in him.
Staring down Thielen: Cousins is credited with the lost fumble on that same fourth-quarter drive, but that was Cook’s fault for dropping the pitch. Cousins’ issues came when he threw behind Adam Thielen, who was double covered for much of the game, into a tight window on a failed third-and-3 play in the first half. He again targeted Thielen on the next series and was intercepted by Darius Slay, who saw the throw coming and cheated off his deep-coverage assignment to jump the route.
“I’m playing fast. I’m seeing coverage and thinking it’s three-deep and that he’s got to honor the ‘go’ ball. Good, smart veteran corners are going to take gambles at times, and he gambled.” – Cousins on the interception by Slay on a pass intended for Thielen.
Cousins set season-low marks as a Viking, attempting the fewest passes for the fewest passing yards since he came to Minnesota. Don’t mistake that for inefficiency. The Vikings leaned on the rushing attack (128 yards, 5.6 yards per carry), with Cousins playing a complementary role. Cousins still needed to throw for 10 of the Vikings’ 17 first downs, including big completions in the second half to Rudolph and Aldrick Robinson to move the chains and wind down the clock.