Inside the numbers
Passer rating 133.2
Grade: 9 out of 10
It was a tale of two halves for the Vikings quarterback during Sunday’s 27-23 victory against the Broncos. Cousins and his teammates were showered with boos by the home crowd while walking into the locker room at halftime, at which point they trailed 20-0 and Cousins had completed only one pass for more than 6 yards and took three sacks. Four consecutive touchdown drives followed as Cousins and company crushed the Broncos with a hurry-up and air-it-out attack, a 180-degree pivot from the Vikings’ balanced, clock-controlling philosophy.
“You hesitate to do it because you know they have Von Miller and a really good pass rush. You don’t want to get into a dropback game with some of the best pass rushers to ever play, but it worked today. I don’t know if that’s because you run play after play without huddling and they start to get winded and don’t have the same get-off as they do in the first half.”
— Cousins on the change to a hurry-up offense
Bang bang bang: Coordinator Kevin Stefanski and Cousins wasted little time, starting the third quarter in the two-minute, hurry-up offense. After some quick throws, Cousins needed fewer than 2½ seconds to throw the 44-yard completion to receiver Stefon Diggs — his first catch Sunday that counted — setting up the 10-yard touchdown to Irv Smith Jr. After an 18-play touchdown drive, Cousins aired it out again to Diggs on a beautiful throw while rolling left; the 54-yard touchdown pass cut the Vikings’ deficit to 23-20 in the fourth quarter. His third touchdown throw, a 32-yard score to a wide-open Kyle Rudolph, sealed Cousins’ first comeback win in his 27th game for the Vikings.
Slow start: A head-scratching throw came in the second quarter when Cousins checked down to fullback C.J. Ham despite being given a free play as officials flagged Broncos linebacker Von Miller for jumping offside. On the next play, Cousins’ NFL career-best streak without a turnover ended after Broncos defensive end Shelby Harris jarred the ball loose for a strip-sack. It was Cousins’ eighth fumble (third lost) of the season, and his first turnover since a tipped interception Oct. 13 vs. the Eagles.
Cousins started to find a rhythm just before halftime, when the Vikings offense initially kicked into hurry-up mode. He was lights out from there as Stefanski remained aggressive. Five of the Vikings’ six biggest plays came without a huddle, including the 54-yard touchdown to Diggs and 32-yard touchdown to Rudolph. The Vikings offense caught the Broncos defense on its heels throughout the second half. By the end, Cousins completed 11 of 14 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown without huddling, a 14.4-yard average per throw; Cousins had a 5.6-yard average when huddling.