Cousins led the Vikings on five straight scoring drives to provide enough of a cushion for a big win that keeps the season afloat heading into Halloween. The QB said how the team responded to the initial adversity spoke volumes.
“Yeah, this game is going to punch you in the gut and you’re going to have things that don’t go your way,” he said of the first-drive turnovers. “That turnover was tough and you have to play through it.” Play through the smoke, as my college coach used to say. So we were able to do that tonight, and obviously the way Jordan responded, he had some tough catches in traffic. One could very easily have been intercepted and the other the security was driving. You could tell he made a decision that it wouldn’t happen again and it reflected in the way he played.”
Throughout his 12-year career, Cousins has often excelled in the spotlight, putting up big numbers when fewer people are watching, then collapsing when the lights get bright. Not this night.
The 35-year-old broke up pass after pass to the perfect target in the perfect spot, frustrating the 49ers’ defense to no end. Cousins kicked nine targets on the night, with Addison (7/123/2) and regular TJ Hockenson (11/86).
The offensive line gave Cousins good time and kept the QB clean against a good 49ers pass. The Niners sacked Cousins zero time despite the QB taking 45 drops. When pressured, the veteran navigated it like a seasoned sea captain, sliding to avoid waves and making good decisions.
Unlike times in the past when the pressure has rattled Cousins, the signal-caller felt the plug Monday night. According to Next Generation Stats, Cousins went 15-of-17 for 240 yards with a TD, 14.1 yards per attempt, a 138.4 passer rating and a 33.8-plus completion percentage above expectations under pressure.
“We’ve got a great quarterback there and we know we just have to give him some time,” forward Christian Darrisaw said. “He has yet to play the game, but when pressure gets on him, he doesn’t back down.
Cousins became the fifth QB in NFL history to have 50 career games with 300-plus passing games in a player’s first 12 seasons (Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, HOF Peyton Manning and HOF Kurt Warner). He is the only QB with multiple 350-yard passing games in 2023 (three).
The QB wasn’t just thinking and dangling down the field either. He was nearly perfect passing 10-plus yards, going 9-of-12 for 201 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs and a 156.3 passer rating.
“Amazing. Just being able to play with an 8 and just the confidence he has in his guys to be able to spread the ball,” Hockenson said. “You never know when the balls are going to come your way which is amazing in offense. I’ve been in a few where you know when you’re going to get the ball and you know when you’re not. And in this one you have to go like you’re going in it every time because No. 8 will come back to you. It’s amazing to play with him. His demeanor, how he sits in the pocket, how tough he is, It’s amazing how he carries himself in the ball. He is a guy you want to play for.”
The Vikings could have closed out the game earlier if they punted on their possessions in the red zone, but outplaying a Niners team expected to compete for the Super Bowl thoroughly underscored that O’Connell’s club can match any when Cousins is on right way like monday night