Three times during his postgame news conference on Sunday, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins used the term "razor's edge" to describe the differences between wins and losses.
For a while, the Vikings' season seemed destined to be a death by a thousand cuts. They are 1-2 in overtime games. Nine of their 10 games have been decided by one score or less. They were on the wrong end of more of these swing games than they cared to be and have not looked like a playoff team for most of the season.
But they are 5-5 now, and holders of a wild card spot, after Cousins and Co. engineered a 64-yard drive in the final 2 minutes, 8 seconds to Greg Joseph's game-winning field goal as they turned back the Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Purple picked themselves up off the mat after Aaron Rodgers delivered a haymaker, a 75-yard touchdown strike to Marquez Valdes-Scantling that allowed Green Bay to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings didn't just pick themselves up. They got up swinging back.
Joseph's winning kick was set up by an offense that charged down the field after an apparent interception by Cousins was overturned when replays showed that Packers safety Darnell Savage did not hold on to the ball as he fell to the ground.
The Vikings had 14 plays that gained at least 10 yards on Sunday, with three coming on the final drive of the game. They are beginning to figure things out offensively, showing more aggressiveness and verticality in their aerial attack and realizing that when you have Justin Jefferson, throwing the ball up to him is a good thing. A lot of it was displayed on the final drive.
Cousins first hit Jefferson for a gain of 6, then flipped a pass to Dalvin Cook, who ended up with a 19-yard gain. Cousins gambled next, firing a pass while under pressure to Adam Thielen that looked like it was going to be intercepted by cornerback Rasul Douglas. But the ball zipped by Douglas to Thielen, who turned upfield for a gain of 26 yards to Green Bay's 19.
"I could probably point to a half dozen throws that were too aggressive," Cousins said, "and I could argue that's one of them."
But it worked. And it came in a clutch situation against a defense that is not a pushover. The play, and the drive, is what's expected from Cousins, the Vikings' $33 million quarterback, and sorely needed for a Vikings team that is back at .500 with a handful of winnable games ahead.
The evolving aggressive mentality should suit an offense that has playmakers like Cook, Thielen and Jefferson with Cousins behind center. It took just four plays to gain 63 yards and move into position for a game-winning field goal.
Joseph's 29-yard kick to end the game led to a spirited celebration that carried Joseph off the field. The Vikings have been in these moments so many times this season, and Sunday they didn't have to watch their opponents celebrate.
"Certainly when we were in the moment today, we obviously recognize we've been here before during the season, with the need to drive down at the end and win it," Cousins said. "It's certainly not a foreign concept."
Feel free to stick with this aggressive mentality, Vikes. Cousins completed 24 of 35 passes for 341 yards on Sunday and had a passer rating of 128.4, but it seems as if it's not enough for some parts of the fan base. He hasn't been flawless but, for the most part, he's excelled this season and has put his team in position to win games.
On Sunday, he directed two touchdown drives with less than six minutes to play to win a game the Vikings might have lost a few weeks ago.