Tracking Kirk Cousins
Inside the numbers
Passer rating 96.6
Grade: 7.5 out of 10
Cousins maintained his composure through an uneven start. The Vikings trailed 10-9 in the second quarter but rattled off 30 unanswered points and got a big defensive touchdown at the end of the first half to throw momentum in their favor. When trailing, a false start caused Cousins to spike the ball in frustration. His response on the next play, a play-action dart for 19 yards to receiver Bisi Johnson, set the pace for the rest of the blowout win.
Play action fire: Cousins was once again at his best when on the move with open space in front of him to read the coverage and step into his throws. He executed the Vikings’ play-action passing attack to near perfection again, finding tight end Kyle Rudolph for a 21-yard catch off a bootleg to set up the opening touchdown. Cousins improvised outside of the play design when he evaded Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa by running to his left, throwing a 13-yard pass to receiver Adam Thielen while on the move. Cousins had another third-down completion on a 46-yard bomb to receiver Stefon Diggs in the fourth quarter. And when running back Dalvin Cook went out because of an injury, Cousins guided the offense with third stringer Mike Boone filling in capably.
Interception: Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram said he saw the Vikings’ screen coming when he quickly dropped into coverage and caught Cousins’ pass like it was intended for him for the second-quarter interception. It’s tough to parse the blame on a screen play that Cousins has to time perfectly with running back Ameer Abdullah, meaning throwing the ball before he’s standing open. But Cousins’ pick was one of the lone negatives in a 344-yard day for the offense. Cousins also had a couple of botched exchanges with center Garrett Bradbury.
What the data say
Deeply connected: Diggs’ 46-yard grab in the fourth quarter, which set up Boone’s first NFL touchdown, was his eighth catch of the season gaining at least 40 yards. To put Diggs’ year in perspective, Hall of Famer Randy Moss only exceeded that mark once in his Vikings career, when he caught 14 such deep balls during his 1998 rookie season. Diggs’ 17.9 yards per catch from Cousins this season is a career high and trails only the Lions’ Kenny Golladay, the Titans’ A.J. Brown and the Chargers’ Mike Williams among NFL receivers with at least 40 catches. He has the most 30-plus-yard catches with 13.
“He just does such a good job of getting his eyes up and adjusting to the football, if I back-shoulder or bring him down the field. He gives me the freedom to throw the ball different places and he’ll adjust. I wish I had been able to step into the throw more on third-and-long because he probably would have had a touchdown there.”
– Cousins on Diggs’ 46-yard catch.