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 137.9
Grade: 8 out of 10
An abysmal start turned around in a flash when Cousins threw for 162 yards and two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the first half. The four-minute flurry, including a Hail Mary toss to tight end Kyle Rudolph for a 44-yard touchdown in the closing seconds, put the Vikings in control and Cousins at ease during the second half. He completed 11 of 15 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown after halftime. It turned out to be a solid day for Cousins, watched by many family members and friends who made the 180-mile drive from his hometown of Holland, Mich. His quarterback rating was a season high.
“I told [offensive coordinator] Kevin [Stefanski] at halftime, I said they’re loading up pretty good in the running game. I said don’t be afraid to come out here and hit some play-action passes on them. The first two plays out of the half, I believe, were play-actions. We got some good gains on them, the run game loosened up and we started to look a lot more like ourselves.” – Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
Cousins targeted Rudolph nine times and found his big man for nine catches, a career-high 122 yards and two touchdowns. Once the game was in control, Cousins looked comfortable executing play-action passes, including his 4-yard touchdown throw to Rudolph to make the score 24-9 in the fourth quarter. Cousins also had solid connections with receiver Adam Thielen, who caught five balls on six targets, and running back Dalvin Cook on three catches. But he was four of 10 on his other throws to running back Latavius Murray and receivers Stefon Diggs and Aldrick Robinson.
Four straight three-and-out series to start the game put the Vikings in a 9-0 hole. Cousins dropped back five times, completing just one pass for 2 yards and took two sacks before a 29-yard catch-and-run from Cook turned into the Vikings’ opening first down in the second quarter. A downed punt at the Vikings’ 2-yard line, followed by a false start by guard Tom Compton, put Cousins in a difficult spot to open the game. His first play was a quarterback sneak, which is rarely a good sign.
Less, again, equaled more for Cousins and the Vikings. For a second consecutive week, Cousins attempted fewer than 30 passes while tossing multiple touchdowns. The Vikings are now 3-0 when Cousins doesn’t have to throw more than 30 times in a game, including two other NFC North wins against the Packers and Lions. So, it’s no coincidence Cousins’ back-to-back passer ratings of 100-plus are his first since Week 4 and Week 5 against the Rams and Eagles.