MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Someplace alongside the road this season after Kevin O’Connell was employed as Minnesota’s coach, Kirk Cousins discovered the constant profitable contact within the clutch that too typically was lacking for him.
One of many NFL’s most scrutinized quarterbacks delivered once more for the 2022 Vikings, with three landing passes together with the tiebreaking rating within the fourth quarter to beat New England 33-26 on Thursday night time.
You are reading: Cousins relishes confidence of Vikings, as clutch wins come
O’Connell made particular point out of Cousins and his efficiency on the prime-time stage towards a vaunted protection in his postgame speech to the gamers within the locker room. Eight wins for Minnesota (9-2) have come by one rating.
“You don’t play like he did tonight with out actually beginning to develop some possession of our offense,” O’Connell advised reporters.
Cousins has felt the arrogance of his coaches and teammates like by no means earlier than — “it nearly brings me to tears,” he mentioned throughout a candid postgame information convention — and turned that assist into an elevated consolation on the sphere. The 59-59-2 profession file as a starter that he carried this yr has begun to take higher form with this season the resilient Vikings have been assembling.
“That’s one thing that we regularly attempt to speak to him about,” huge receiver Adam Thielen mentioned. “Simply go on the market and play soccer. You’re a dang good soccer participant and also you show that week in and week out. You present how powerful you might be. You present how ready you might be.”
The strangest — or maybe most becoming — half is that Cousins presently has the worst passer ranking of his profession (88.2) to rank simply twenty first within the NFL. As glad, or relieved, as he has been with all of the wins the Vikings have loved this yr, Cousins is a perfectionist who can’t assist himself choose aside his play. He threw one interception towards the Patriots and, he identified, might have had two extra.
“Fortunately we’ve been discovering a approach to win despite it being Yr 1 on this system. There have been moments the place you’re feeling like, ‘Man, we, I’ve bought to be higher right here on offense for us to go the place we wish to go.’ I believe that’s the place you continue to really feel such as you’re growing.”
After Cousins was sacked a career-most seven instances by the Cowboys, his time to throw was vastly elevated regardless of the absence of left deal with Christian Darrisaw. O’Connell was at his play-calling greatest with faster throws and shorter drops for Cousins, ample assist for Darrisaw’s sub, Blake Brandel, and a dedication to the run regardless of a scarcity of manufacturing that allowed the Vikings to remain of their play-action passing assault. Cousins was sacked solely as soon as.
“We used a whole lot of totally different strategies on the sides to attempt to condense that rush, attempt to let Kirk have some clear pockets,” O’Connell mentioned.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Whether or not it was a scarcity of stress over the primary three quarters, accidents forcing fourth-stringer Duke Shelley into the beginning lineup at cornerback or an total vulnerability with the way in which defensive coordinator Ed Donatell organized their coverages, the Vikings gave Patriots quarterback Mac Jones an excessive amount of house down the sphere on an evening when he had a career-high 382 passing yards with a season-high 119.8 passer ranking. The Vikings have been outgained in complete yardage in 4 straight video games.
Kene Nwangwu, who had two kickoff return touchdowns as a rookie final season, lastly broke free with a 97-yard rating instantly after the Patriots reached the tip zone with relative ease on their opening drive of the second half.
“All yr lengthy I hit him at pregame meals: ‘Is right now the day? Is right now the day?’” O’Connell mentioned. “He’s simply so proficient, such a particular athlete.”
Greg Joseph has 5 missed further factors, essentially the most within the NFL this yr. Together with his 2018 season with Cleveland, Joseph has an 87.9% cumulative conversion price on further factors that’s the worst amongst kickers during the last 5 years with greater than 35 makes an attempt, in line with Sportradar knowledge. Joseph is 94 for 107, with 4 misses in 2021.
With 10 days to recuperate, the Vikings must be nearer to full energy for his or her subsequent sport.
Defensive finish Dalvin Tomlinson (calf) was listed as questionable for Thursday, so he’s on observe barring a setback to return from a four-game absence. Cornerbacks Cameron Dantzler Sr. (ankle), Akayleb Evans (concussion) and Andrew Sales space Jr. (knee) have been all sidelined towards the Patriots, and Dantzler should miss yet another sport on injured reserve. Within the concussion protocol for a second time in successive weeks, Darrisaw has an unclear path again to the lineup.
81.6% — The completion price for Cousins (30 for 37) was the second greatest by a Patriots’ opponent in 23 seasons underneath coach Invoice Belichick. The one higher efficiency was by Miami (85.7%) in 2008, per Sportradar, when Chad Pennington went 17 for 20 in a 38-13 victory.
The Vikings can clinch the NFC North by beating the New York Jets subsequent week and getting some assist. They would wish Jacksonville to win at Detroit on Dec. 4 and Inexperienced Bay to lose both of its subsequent two video games: at Philadelphia on Sunday or at Chicago on Dec. 4.
Extra vital for the Vikings, given the state of the division beneath them, is their place within the NFC. Their loss to the Eagles (9-1) looms giant as a possible tiebreaker for the first-round bye. They’ve a two-game edge within the loss column on NFC West co-leaders San Francisco and Seattle for the No. 2 seed that will include residence video games within the first two rounds.