Tracking Kirk Cousins
Passer rating 94.2
Grade: 6 out of 10
Cousins lamented missed chances, including the final two drives that ended in three-and-outs; and he also three incompletions into the end zone before halftime resulting in a field goal instead of a touchdown. Cousins’ lights-out October — his third NFC Offensive Player of the Month award — was in the rearview mirror as his accuracy and decisionmaking inconsistencies appeared to return. Coach Mike Zimmer said coordinator Kevin Stefanski put too much on Cousins’ shoulders early, calling for a more “balanced” approach after Cousins threw 23 passes to 12 runs while tied 10-10 at halftime.
“It was not ‘not wanting to take a hit,’ I just did not realize I had not gotten there yet. What I needed to do was look left and get a feel for it or dive headfirst. When you dive headfirst, you can usually get a yard or two more.” – Kirk Cousins on sliding short of the marker on third down in the second quarter.
Flashes: Cousins showed some of the pinpoint playmaking that had made him the NFL’s passer-rating leader through the season’s first seven games. He capitalized on great pass protection when finding Laquon Treadwell for a 26-yard catch (Treadwell’s career long) between two Chiefs defenders playing zone coverage and moving the chains on a third down. Cousins’ best throw was the end-zone strike between two defenders for Kyle Rudolph’s 3-yard touchdown catch. Sunday also marked the third straight game in which Cousins did not commit a turnover, which ties his longest turnover-free stretch since signing with the Vikings.
Missed connections: Cousins’ awareness was criticized after he scrambled on a third-and-6 play and slid at least a yard short of the first-down marker in the second quarter. He was unable to find a groove from the start, throwing three straight incompletions for a three-and-out opening drive — that included overthrowing back Dalvin Cook in the flat. He threw wide of Treadwell on a third-and-long check-down, after which Stefon Diggs’ palms were to the sky in frustration. Cousins also watched a deep ball just miss Diggs’ outstretched arms before halftime.
Downfield struggles re-emerge: After Cousins enjoyed a four-game stretch in which he averaged more than 10 yards per throw, the Vikings’ explosive plays fizzled against the Chiefs. Cousins averaged just 5.8 yards per throw, a season low. He struggled to complete intermediate to deep throws, finding completions on just three of eight passes that traveled at least 15 yards in the air. More than half of Cousins’ 38 throws were thrown shy of 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, including Ameer Abdullah’s 16-yard TD catch.