A play-action fake gave Kirk Cousins plenty of time to sit inside a clean pocket and look downfield. His target, tight end T.J. Hockenson, got behind his defender and was open.
Cousins usually completes that pass in his sleep.
He sailed the ball over Hockenson's head this time, incomplete. Cousins bent over at the waist, hands on his knees. His disgust was not hard to decipher.
The Vikings quarterback called that pass "the most egregious miss" on a day when his pinpoint accuracy went sideways.
Cousins was uncharacteristically erratic throwing the ball. He absorbed a handful of jarring hits. The offense sputtered and turned stagnant.
And when the Vikings offense faced a gut-check moment in the fourth quarter, the quarterback put his toughness on display again by engineering a touchdown drive that was a necessary outcome in what became a 27-22 win over the New York Jets.
Cousins showed a surgeon's precision on that drive, completing five of five passes for 62 yards. On third-and-6 from the 10, Cousins threaded a needle to the No. 4 option in his progression — Justin Jefferson — along the side of the end zone to stretch the lead to 27-15.
"That's how you win football games in this league," Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell said. "We don't win this game unless we get that seven points there."
Cousins had a peculiar outing. He misfired on throws he normally completes. His timing with receivers occasionally looked hurried by the Jets pass rush. The operation just seemed off in the second half.
But the main takeaway is the toughness that Cousins continues to exhibit. Mental toughness, physical toughness.
He is making winning plays when required, and he keeps picking himself off the turf after violent hits.
Right tackle Brian O'Neill apologized for using an expletive while praising his quarterback's toughness.
"He's a beast," O'Neill said. "He hangs in there. He doesn't complain. He's the ultimate competitor, ultimate team leader. He has my respect for years and years."
Does Cousins ever look or sound shaken in the huddle after being steamrolled by a pass rusher?
"He doesn't show it," O'Neill said. "He doesn't flinch. He's keeping us calm in the huddle. He's the man – No. 8 is the man."
Cousins' durability remains an underrated part of his career. He has endured some cringe-worthy hits this season after holding the ball in the pocket to buy his receivers extra seconds to finish a route.
Pass rushers unload on him. Cousins pops back up.
He credits his "bodywork people" that he visits weekly for helping him get his body repaired and ready to play again.
"I say, 'Hey, I'm in a car accident every week and you've got to put me back together on Monday,' " Cousin said. "It's kind of like getting an oil change. You get put back together and get ready for the next car accident."
Cousins doesn't shy away from an occasional fender-bender. On third-and-9 in the second quarter, he took off running, lowered his pads to initiate contact and then got popped by a second Jets defender.
"I felt I had to get every yard I could," Cousins said.
He didn't slide and gained 11 yards. The Vikings finished the drive with a touchdown.
"That [run] gave us a little bit of juice in that moment," O'Connell said.
Cousins said postgame that he feels fine physically. He attributed his throwing inaccuracy to the Jets pass rush and having his own internal clock sped up.
"There's going to be days like that," O'Connell said.
Cousins addressed the team in the locker room after the game and shared a mantra that he heard repeatedly from former Washington coach Mike Shanahan as a young quarterback.
His message: Tough times don't last. Tough people do.
"I believe strongly in that," Cousins said. "I felt like this game in a way was a little bit of a microcosm of that."
The quarterback has bumps and bruises to prove it. And another win.