Kirk Cousins: Loss to Giants ‘probably’ toughest of career given Vikings’ 13-win season

MINNEAPOLIS — This season has looked different for Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. His team won 13 games in the regular season, the most in his career. With Kevin O’Connell, he’s connected with a coach he trusts to throw more passes than he’s ever thrown, and fewer schematic guardrails than he’s ever faced.

But eventually, Cousins ​​found himself in a familiar position at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. His 31-24 loss to the New York Giants in the Vikings, he said, was his third loss in four games after his career and brought a new level of pain. .

“It hurts,” Cousins ​​said. “Ouch. I’m probably missing one, but this is probably the toughest loss of my career.”

When asked why, he first replied, “All the obvious reasons.”

Cousins ​​then cites the Vikings’ regular-season success and the possibility that some of their pending free agency, including center Garrett Bradbury and tailback Alexander Mattison, may leave in the offseason. explained in a little more detail.

“Thirteen wins, I’ve never smelled it before,” Cousins ​​said. “And the fact that that group, Garrett and Alex… are free agents with no guaranteed return, makes it hard to leave the field.

In some ways, Cousins ​​compiled Sunday’s best game of the season. He completed his 31 of his 39 passes for 273 yards and his two touchdowns, running for one of his thirds and his best total of the season in his quarters. Buck summarized his rating (85.2).

Overall, he had a strange year in his first season at O’Connell. On the one hand, he threw his career-high 14 interceptions and finished with his QBR of 49.8, his career-low. Meanwhile, in his one-scoring win of his NFL-record 11 for the Vikings, he led his eight comebacks in the fourth quarter and will face the Giants another Sunday. I had a chance.

However, the game was essentially over when Cousins ​​shorted his stick to tight end TJ Hockenson at fourth and eight near midfield. Giants safety Xavier McKinney tackled Hockenson after gaining three yards with 1:44 remaining.

Cousins ​​was asked about his decision to throw to Hockenson rather than receiver Justin Jefferson or another vertical threat. I felt like I had to. You can’t sack him down, so I thought I’d kick him.”

“I had shorted my stick several times during a match, even going back a few weeks, and it felt like shorting my stick wasn’t the end of the world. It was coverage so he didn’t have a chance to pull away.

O’Connell admitted he contacted Cousins ​​later to figure out why he made that throw, and the coach said, “I could have done a better job in that moment.”

O’Connell said he preferred throws downfield, but didn’t want Cousins ​​to load directives before the snap.

“My intention as a playcaller is not to call a key concept where someone is missing a stick, especially when it’s 4 down,” said O’Connell. “In retrospect, I could have said a little more, ‘This is where I want the ball to go. ‘” But I want Kirk to be able to play freely and make good decisions. was doing that all night long..

“I think ultimately it’s up to me in the play call. [eligible receivers] by chance [to get] Maybe down the field. There are always better plays.”

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