EAGAN, Minn. — What Kirk Cousins was capable of pull off down the stretch in Week 2 is among the many many causes the Minnesota Vikings pays him $84 million over the subsequent three seasons.
Down 20-7 to the Inexperienced Bay Packers getting into the fourth quarter on Sunday, Cousins orchestrated a thundering comeback at Lambeau Area, throwing for 138 yards and three touchdowns within the ultimate 15 minutes of regulation to drive additional time.
• Getting Rodgers ready with limited practice
• Steelers might benefit from Brown’s defiance
• Familiar look for Broncos offense with Keenum
• Inside one of best passes of Cousins’ career
• Nothing happening downfield for Eli, Giants
Minnesota’s final drive of the quarter required Cousins to execute a touchdown drive and cap it off with a twp-point conversion to tie the game 29-29.
He did just that with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen, the kind that makes you wonder how it was physically possible for Cousins to fit a ball through a window so narrow it defied the term “threading the needle.”
Facing pressure with 37 seconds left after nose tackle Mike Daniels barreled his way past center Brett Jones and into the backfield, Cousins launched a pass down the right sideline, fitting it through a microscopic opening between two defenders and into the hands of Thielen, who caught the ball inside the 3-yard line before falling into the end zone.
Here’s a closer look at the touchdown pass that was instantly chalked up as one of the best of Cousins’ career.
Vikings running back Dalvin Cook: “When you practice with Kirk every day, the first couple of times you see him make some of the throws, you’ll be like ‘God!’ but it’s starting to become a habit. That’s just what he does. That’s just who he is. That’s why he’s getting paid the big dollars. Kirk, he puts so much time into his craft and he takes it so personal to where when he goes on the field, he just makes it look so easy. Some of the throws he makes, he expects to make those throws.”
Vikings running back Latavius Murray: “I thought it was an unbelievable pass and then great catch by Adam to be able to track the ball with those two defenders kind of I guess stepping in front of his vision. I think that’s what those guys are here for. That’s what Kirk has done in the past, and I think that’s what Adam has done here for some time is stepping up in moments.”
Prior to the snap, Packers rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander was lined up 5 yards off Thielen before dropping back to track the receiver’s route. Safety Kentrell Brice dropped down to help his teammate inside the 5-yard line, but twists at the last second to prevent himself from barreling into Alexander and ends up missing the football.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy: “I think there is a subconscious component to that. I think that’s part of playing safety in this league for the last five-or-so years. I did not talk to him this week one-on-one about it. It looked like, just watching the video, I think he got caught in-between going for the ball and going for the hit.”
In noting Cousins’ pinpoint precision, Thielen said that the ball likely would have been batted down had it been thrown an inch higher or an inch lower. As Thielen flipped his head around to his left shoulder to track the ball (while Alexander had his back turned), he utilized a “late hands” technique to snag the catch at the last possible instant.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) September 16, 2018
Thielen: “I noticed the ball and I knew it was going to recover from the defender’s head. I didn’t see the protection, however I knew he was in all probability going to be closing in on me. However for me it was simply make it possible for I’ve actually late arms so the defender can’t come up and put his arms up and knock it down. And I knew that if it might simply sneak over his head it was going to be a catch. For me it was simply making an attempt to be as late as I presumably might to place my arms up and attempt to full it.”
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer: “The receivers apply it on a regular basis. They run down the sphere. N0. 1, for those who’re working and also you stick your arms up you’re going to decelerate. They wish to proceed to run, actually they wish to look again after which on the final second put their arms up. He was falling down on the time. We’re glad he received pushed into the top zone.”
Making tight-window throws within the crimson zone has been a degree of emphasis for Cousins. It’s by no means simple, and whereas others praised the QB’s accuracy on his throw, Cousins critiqued his miraculous landing, saying the throw was “in all probability too shut for consolation” with how shut the protection was to Thielen and the way much less area, significantly contained in the 5-yard line the place Thielen caught the ball, makes it troublesome to execute.
Cousins: “There’s much less grass to cowl, and so there’s simply 22 gamers in a a lot smaller space. I simply have all the time felt like you must be extra decisive along with your reads, very correct. Your receivers should be detailed with their spacing, their splits, their route depths. After which clearly defensive gamers, they know they’re making an attempt to carry you to a subject aim.”
However that’s a danger offensive coordinator John DeFilippo desires Cousins to take. With an opportunity to go to additional time on the road and having seen Cousins make these forms of performs earlier than, DeFilippo wished his quarterback to put it on the road in that second.
DeFilippo: “There’s a high quality line. There are specific factors in a recreation state of affairs [when] you must take possibilities. If that was a random second down in the course of the second quarter, I might’ve been like, ‘Hey, that one is somewhat tight.’ However you are attempting to drive down and win the soccer recreation. There’s lower than a minute to go within the recreation. These are the probabilities you must take. You need your quarterback to really feel comfy and really feel assured in themselves throwing these forms of balls in these conditions … In my thoughts, that could be a state of affairs you might want to take an opportunity.”