As running game sputtered, Kirk Cousins didn’t freak out

USA TODAY Sports

Although Vikings running back Dalvin Cook eventually gained 96 yards rushing on Monday night, it didn’t come easily. And when the running game sputtered early in the game, quarterback Kirk Cousins didn’t freak out.

“I thought he played really fast, which is important for him,” coach Mike Zimmer told reporters after the 19-13 win regarding Cousins’ performance. “He was extremely accurate. He got the ball in the right places all night. I just felt like he did a really good job of handling what the defense was giving us.”

Usually, when the running game doesn’t deliver, the Minnesota passing game craters, with Cousins developing a deer-in-the-headlights demeanor as he either rushes a throw or takes a sack. Last night, Cousins stayed calm and did what he had to do.

Plenty of credit should go to the offensive line for keeping the likes of Khalil Mack out of the backfield. But even when Cousins rolled out and had a defender in his face, Cousins delivered — which doesn’t always happen.

It also helped that the Chicago offense couldn’t take a lead in the first half, allowing the Vikings to stay patient with their offense. Even after a long kickoff return gave the Bears a 13-7 lead at the start of the second half, the Vikings stayed calm offensively. It helped that, defensively, they held firm, forcing the Bears into four straight three-and-out possessions as Minnesota made it 13-10 and then 13-13 and then 19-13.

Still, the win traces back to Cousins. When the run wasn’t there, Cousins made it happen through the air, including a 54-yard pass play to receiver Justin Jefferson on a critical second-half third-and-11. (For the night, Cousins completed 10 of 11 passes on third down.) That’s something the Vikings haven’t been able to consistently do over the past couple of years. If they can do it over the balance of the current season, the 1-5 record that has become 4-5 could keep moving in the right direction, possibly culminating in an unlikely playoff berth.

As unlikely as the postseason may be for the Vikings, it’s a lot less unlikely now than it was only 16 days ago, before the upset the Packers at Lambeau Field to start the current winning streak.

21 responses to “As running game sputtered, Kirk Cousins didn’t freak out

  1. Given the Packers soft schedule after this weekend I think the division is out of reach for the Vikes but I could easily see them taking a wildcard spot and making some trouble for us at Lambeau in January.

  2. Even if the Vikings come in and 8-8 and miss the playoffs, Zim is Coach of the Year to me. What he did without an offseason, OTA’s, virtual draft, no preseason with a new offensive coordinator, losing Diggs, Joseph, Griffin, Rhodes, Waynes, Alexander and then also Hunter and Barr has been amazing. Last night Vikings were making tackles and I was asking “who?” to the TV and I know this team fairly well for a higher than casual fan. Even the rookie and backup replacements that Zimmer had wanted to roll with in the secondary have been in and out in Hughes, Hill and Dantzler.

    In the argument for or against the preseason, I think you can look no further than the Vikings. With the amount of change that was coming into this year, had they had a preseason to adjust to some of it (a lot of it) perhaps the first six games would’ve gone far differently.

  3. ” Even the rookie and backup replacements that Zimmer had wanted to roll with in the secondary have been in and out in Hughes, Hill and Dantzler.”

    TBH Boyd has been better the last two games than Hill, Hughes or Dantzler have been all season. Hughes is quickly looking like a bust. At least Gladney seems to be improving.

  4. Given the Packers soft schedule after this weekend I think the division is out of reach for the Vikes but I could easily see them taking a wildcard spot and making some trouble for us at Lambeau in January.
    ———
    Completely disagree. As a Packers fan, I’d LOVE to play the Vikings again, especially in the playoffs.

  5. Don’t get too excited about Cousins. The Bears black hole of an offense gave Minnesota the win. The 25th ranked offense would’ve ran away with that game for Chicago. But at this point I hope Minnesota passes us in the standings

  6. Cousins’ solid play was frankly a welcome surprise — I think the play calling and improved O-line play have helped a lot. The playoffs are a longshot unless they are expanded, but this was always a transition year, made even worse when Hunter and Barr got hurt and Pierce opted out. It’s been fun to see the young CBs develop (particularly Gladney), the young LBs improve and the young D-linemen like Wonnum figure things out. It’s a shame the Vikes started so lousy and are probably out of it because there is no dominant NFC team this year.

  7. The key is that the offensive line is playing much better since the Cleveland was inserted at right guard. This rookie who has never played guard or on the right side is miles better than Dru Samia or Pat Elflein were. That has helped the whole line and Kirk needs a competent offensive line to play to his potential. I think most of us wanted to move on from Kirk and find a rookie QB with some mobility because it seemed like the O-line would never be any good, but I would be fine with Kirk for the next year or two if he plays like this on a regular basis.

  8. At least four times yesterday, Kirk panicked and aborted a perfectly clean pocket and got himself pressured and/or hit. I would expect a guy who has started this many games to have a little bit of awareness in the pocket and the stones to stand in it.

  9. if chicago could move the ball at all and possibly even score 10 more points, the vikings wouldve crumbled.

  10. speicher145 says:
    ———
    Completely disagree. As a Packers fan, I’d LOVE to play the Vikings again, especially in the playoffs.
    —————————
    Considering that you live on Vikings articles… I’m not surprised you want to see the Vikings again.

    But, as a fan of team that can’t stop a RB or get up to play 1 win teams at home… I am surprised that you want to see the same team that beat the Packers silly at home a couple of weeks ago.

  11. Well take it easy on packer trolls….i would be excited to since last time the packers made any noise in the playoffs a Bush was in office! Let that sink in!

  12. Well you would hope that if all world running back 2020 isn’t getting it done, cousins could beat the man coverages and stacked run blitzing boxes having Jefferson, Theilen, Irv Smith, and Kyle Rudolph at his disposal. I would say that, it wasn’t cousins not freaking out that was special, it was the first time he actually played decent against this Chicago defense, and he should some growth at extending a couple plays and making on the jog passes. I appreciate cousins in the respect that he continues to improve , but it takes him a couple weeks every season to get going . He is kindof developing a knack for atrocious weeks 1-4z

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