Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins put up a solid statistical performance in last week’s ugly NFL Wild Card Playoff loss to the New York Giants. The Pro Bowler completed 31-of-39 passes for 273 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
However, one play seems to call into question Cousins’ ability to be a big-game quarterback. Facing a fourth-and-8 with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and his Vikings down 31-24, Cousins threw the ball three yards past the line of scrimmage to tight end T.J. Hockenson.
It goes without saying that the slow-footed tight end was not able to turn up the field for a first down. He was stopped well short, pretty much ending the game right there.
We fully understand yards after the catch are a big part of today’s NFL. Minnesota was also forced to snap the ball quick with the play clock running out. Even then, Cousins’ lack of nuance in his 11th NFL season is dumbfounding. He does know Justin Jefferson actually exists, right?
A few days after this loss, Vikings cornerback and future Hall of Famer Patrick Peterson spoke on this play. He was as shocked like the rest of us as things unfolded inside U.S. Bank Stadium.
“Going into that final play, when I saw it, the only thing I could think about, I was like, ‘He must have didn’t know what down it was.‘ I haven’t heard his explanation about it as of yet. But on the sideline it just took me back because I was just shocked that we threw the ball three yards when we needed eight.”Peterson on Kirk Cousins’ final pass of Sunday’s game
To be fair, Peterson did lob praise in the direction of his quarterback after those comments. The Pro Bowler indicated that Cousins was a top-10 quarterback all season long and someone the team can win with. But he didn’t stop talking about the one play in question. “I really don’t know what went into that, how that decision came about, him throwing the ball that short,” Peterson said.
- Kirk Cousins stats (2022): 66% completion, 4,547 yards, 29 TD, 14 INT, 92.5 QB rating
Statistically speaking, Cousins has been a top-end signal caller since he joined Minnesota from Washington back in 2018. This doesn’t change the fact that his Vikings have won one playoff game in five seasons with Cousins starting.
Despite this, Minnesota general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah made it clear following Sunday’s loss that Cousins will be back as QB1 next season.
As for the Vikings as a whole, their premature playoff exit following a 13-win season can’t sit well. Head coach Kevin O’Connell announced on Thursday that defensive coordinator Ed Donatell has been fired.
For as much criticism that Kirk Cousins gets, it’s Patrick Peterson and the Vikings defense that let this team down in 2022. It ranked 28th in scoring, 31st in yards allowed and 31st against the pass.