Passer rating 111.5
Grade: 8 out of 10
Cousins quickly settled into a groove during Sunday night’s 28-24 win in Dallas, where his first two passes were taken for 39 yards by running back Dalvin Cook. Cousins banished any red-zone demons from earlier in the season with a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph, who made a one-handed grab on the ball thrown where only he could catch it. Cousins then rode an effective running game, which helped eat more than 12 minutes of clock in the third quarter, supplementing the Vikings’ attack with play-action throws when necessary.
“Football’s a team game. We relied on teammates, ran the ball well, and defense stepped up at the end. With Adam [Thielen] out, we had to reinvent ourselves a little bit. But I’d say Kyle has the best hands of anyone I’ve ever played with, and he showed it on that touchdown catch.”
Strikes: Facing a third-and-6 play, Cousins rolled to his left and found Bisi Johnson for a critical 15-yard gain. The play — an example of Cousins’ play-action efficiency and cleaned-up mechanics — moved the chains on what amounted to a touchdown drive when the Vikings trailed 21-20 in the third quarter. The Vikings offense bludgeoned the Cowboys with 10 straight runs and a touchdown after Johnson’s catch. Cousins again lofted a perfect pass to Rudolph for a two-point conversion and 28-21 lead. Cousins also strong-armed a couple of passes, including a crowded third-down conversion to Rudolph in the second half that moved the chains.
Too conservative? One head-scratching throw came at the top of the third quarter, when Cousins had a free play because of defensive offsides. Instead of throwing deep to receiver Stefon Diggs — on a vertical route — Cousins checked down to fullback C.J. Ham for 3 yards before accepting the penalty. Cousins had another strike slip through Diggs’ hands in the end zone on third down, through no fault of his own. He squeezed a perfect dart into tight coverage, but the ball slipped off Diggs’ hands. Cowboys safety Xavier Woods was credited with a pass deflection.
Career-best clean streak: Cousins’ last turnover — an interception tipped off Diggs’ hands in the Oct. 13 win against the Eagles — was four games ago, marking the longest turnover-free stretch of Cousins’ NFL career. Cousins has now started four straight games without turning the ball over. A third-down incompletion was originally ruled a fumble returned for a touchdown by the Cowboys, but a quick review overturned the call as an incomplete pass in the second quarter. Cousins has five turnovers (three interceptions, two lost fumbles) in 10 games, a year after he committed 17 turnovers for the Vikings.