Week 13 spotlight: Kirk Cousins
Numbers add up despite struggles
Number grade (out of 10): 4
Quarterback Kirk Cousins overcame late and overthrown passes, contributing to a slow start and early deficit, eventually doing enough Sunday to make this his fifth straight season of at least 3,000 passing yards and 25 passing touchdowns. Cousins' final numbers — 305 passing yards, three touchdowns and an interception — gloss over what was a mighty struggle to get past the lowly Jaguars.
Positive Sometimes Yes …
At his best, Cousins helped erase errors and delivered on-target throws to receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, who combined for 17 catches, 196 yards and two touchdowns. He corralled a bad exchange with center Garrett Bradbury, securing the ball between his legs before throwing a quick 4-yard strike to Jefferson to prevent a negative play. Cousins' best throw came after his biggest mistake, the third-quarter Jaguars interception returned for a touchdown. On the next drive, Cousins tossed a 40-yard ball over Jefferson's shoulder to set up fullback C.J. Ham's 12-yard touchdown catch-and-run.
Negative And Sometimes No
At his worst, Cousins threw passes late and off target. He was late and behind Thielen on a third-and-2 throw in the second quarter. He sailed a pass over wide-open tight end Kyle Rudolph later in the quarter. Cousins was also credited with two turnovers, although only one was solely on him. "Miscommunication" led to the pick-six, according to Cousins; Cook was not looking for the pass, which was thrown behind him. A botched handoff to Cook also went down as a Cousins lost fumble.
Extra Point Oh, there was Pressure
The Jaguars defense entered Sunday with an NFL-low 11 sacks, yet Cousins and the Vikings surrendered a season-worst four sacks Sunday. Cousins took a whopping 14 hits, including the four sacks, on 50 dropbacks.
"It wasn't a four-man rush too often. I think they were bringing a fifth, sometimes a sixth, pretty consistently. I think that was some of it. Some of it was, like there was a third down early in the game where I'm hot. The ball's got to go out and I didn't feel like my hot route was a great throw, so I ate it and took the sack. That's not on anybody, but they brought a great blitz." — Cousins on taking 14 hits (four sacks) from the Jaguars defense.