MINNEAPOLIS – Throughout the best NFL season he’s been a part of since joining the league in 2012, Kirk Cousins He keeps saying the strangest thing: he insists he’s not playing well. The mantra began in September and came to a head Thursday night after the Minnesota Vikings quarterback finished one of the most efficient games ever against a New England Patriots defense under head coach Bill Belichick.
Cousins completed 30 of 37 passes for 299 yards with three touchdowns, and compiled a season-high 84.8 overall quarterback rating in the 33–26 win. He then opened a window on his unique mixture of pain and relief during a post-game meeting with reporters.
“It’s funny because we won, so I feel like it’s been a lot easier to talk to you this year,” he said. “But I’m not playing better. If anything, I come to these press conferences trying to smile, and I have to work to smile, because I think to myself, ‘Man, I have to play better.'” I appreciate the win because it makes this It’s a little easier.”
The Vikings are 9-2 (0.818 winning percentage), the best record of any NFL team Cousins had playing through 11 games. His cumulative season stats are nowhere near a career-high in 12 weeks (he had a 68.5 QBR over 11 games in 2016 with Washington), and he threw a nasty first-quarter interception on Thursday night — a home float from the back foot that led to the Patriots’ field goal . But Cousins also made a string of money throws — the kind he’s made to win games all season — including a 36-yard cent for receiving. Justin Jefferson In the fourth quarter he set up a 15-yard receiver Adam Thelin for a touchdown that gave the Vikings the lead for good.
Ultimately, the Vikings’ 81.6% completion percentage was the second-highest ever against a Patriots defense led by Belichick. But when asked if he really thought he should have played better, Cousins responded with an incomplete pitching list. one was the recipient KJ Osborne which was a bit short, and another towards Jefferson was farther off and could have been intercepted.
He said, “That’s who I am, man.” “I’m kind of hard on myself. I go back out there and think about all the ways I need to be better.”
In truth, the 2022 season is nowhere near Cousins’ career best from an individual standpoint. 49.8 QAR this season is actually the worst ever in a 12-week season. His nine interceptions are the second worst, as is his 65% completion rate. But it’s the game-winning shots he makes that his teammates and coaches want him to focus on.
Cousins, who range in age from 11 to 18 when they play in prime time, was asked if he would ever allow himself to say he played a great game.
he said no”. “I don’t know. Maybe I’m making myself crazy, my family crazy that way. It’s just the way I’m wired. I’m an optimist. I’m obsessed with optimization. Even when things are good, my mind goes to how they could be better. You’re torturing yourself that way.” .
The Vikings didn’t just defeat the Patriots with Cousins’ arm strength. Ken NwangoA 97-yard kickoff return in the third quarter delivered a huge emotional swing. Their pass protection improved dramatically one week after Cousins was buried by seven sacks in a 40-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Their pass rush came alive in the fourth quarter to sack the Patriots’ quarterback Mac Jones twice, and the NFL’s replay review system reversed a touchdown pass in the third quarter to Patriots tight end Hunter Henryforcing a Patriots field goal.
And to be sure, Cousins isn’t the first professional athlete to have refused or deviated from credit. But Cousins revealed his bid stems from a deep personal fixation – all at a time when coaches and teammates are trying to push him.
Cousins revealed Thielen pulled him aside before Thursday’s game and “shared an encouraging word.” Thielen didn’t specifically address that conversation in his conversation with reporters Thursday night, but said it was important for Cousins not to feel like he was “carrying the weight of the team on him.”
“I think that’s something we’re constantly trying to talk to him about,” Thelin added. “Just go out there and play football. You’re a good footballer and you prove it week in and week out. You show how strong you are. You show how ready you are. When he does that – and he did that tonight – he’s one of the best players in the league.”
Jefferson, meanwhile, praised Cousins’ growing confidence in throwing “50-50” type balls that have led him to score three points in the red zone in the past four games, as well as pulling in passes deeper than 37 and 36 yards. Thursday night.
“Since I’ve been here,” Jefferson said, “I beg him to do it.” “I feel like he’s getting more and more confident every week giving me those kinds of footballs. I just love going up and doing the play.”
Cousins has really been impressed with that encouragement, as has unwavering confidence coach Kevin O’Connell has shown since joining the organization in February. Rarely emotional in public, the cousins appreciated Thursday night for their universal encouragement in pushing him to move past his mistakes.
Kevin [O’Connell] “It’s empowered me a lot,” Cousins said. This team has enabled me a lot. The guys have just been great. I can’t say enough about the way they got my back after those interceptions, supported me all week, and supported me before the game in the locker room. … At times, I almost get teary-eyed at the way these guys support and support me. It really adds to the fun of playing and working together.”