Kirk Cousins has had a good season. Statistically, he has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
That’s great, but he still isn’t going to easily shake the knocks on him. He could have on Monday night, and he came up short, again.
We can pinpoint the specific moment that the Minnesota Vikings paid Cousins $84 million for last year. The Vikings trailed the Seattle Seahawks 34-30 after Cousins got them back in the game, with the ball at their own 16-yard line with 3:27 to go. This isn’t a moment in which Cousins has thrived. ESPN’s announcers pointed out that Cousins was 0-7 on “Monday Night Football.” He’s not known for his comeback wins or shining in primetime.
And Cousins couldn’t get it done. Again. He threw a pass that was tipped on third down and one that was wide and incomplete on fourth down, and the Seahawks ran out most of the clock and got a field goal with 21 seconds left in a 37-30 win.
With a win, the Vikings would have stayed even with the Packers in the NFC North. Cousins would have had his signature moment with the Vikings. That didn’t happen, and Cousins will hear about it from the naysayers.
Kirk Cousins played well, not well enough
Cousins helped get the Vikings back in the game, though that doesn’t count for much in the NFL. He hit Laquon Treadwell for a 58-yard touchdown, then Kyle Rudolph made a ridiculous one-handed catch in the end zone for a score. The Vikings had a huge missed extra point, but were at least back in the game at 34-30.
After a stop, the Vikings got the ball back. Cousins immediately threw for a first down, and then Minnesota faced a third-and-3. His next pass was tipped at the line. On fourth down, Cousins locked in on rookie tight end Irv Smith, who was covered closely. Cousins threw it too wide and incomplete. With 2:27 left, the Seahawks took over.
The Seahawks did enough to win, which they usually do. They came up with the big plays they needed to get a victory and improve to 10-2. Winning and clutch plays are in their DNA, thanks in large part to franchise quarterback Russell Wilson. In the end, that’s what separates Wilson and Cousins.
Seahawks rallied back
The Vikings even got a weird gift in the first half. Wilson had a pass batted back at him, and he wanted to knock it down. Instead he hit it forward and it landed right in the hands of Vikings safety Anthony Harris. Harris caught it on the run and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown. That put the Vikings ahead 14-7.
Seattle came back. The Seahawks scored 24 unanswered points to start the second half. Losing all-everything running back Dalvin Cook changed what the Vikings wanted to do on offense. And still, they rallied, thanks to Cousins making fourth-quarter plays. He just couldn’t make enough plays to win, and that’s what will be remembered.
The Vikings could have used a win. They’re 8-4, but a game behind the Packers in the NFC North and trailing in the first two tiebreakers to Green Bay.
Cousins will have other chances for his big clutch moment. They play the Packers in Week 16. They’re very likely going to the playoffs, as a division champ or wild-card team. And Cousins will need a big moment in one of those games to change a longstanding perception.
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