Since the day Kirk Cousins was introduced to Minnesota Vikings fans prior to the 2018 season he has been peppered with questions about his win-loss record and struggles in primetime games. He has consistently answered by pointing out that there are plenty of other factors that determine winning and losing. His viewpoint on QB Wins was never more justified than on Monday night in Seattle. The Vikings’ supporting cast repeatedly let down Cousins and robbed him of a narrative-busting win against the Seahawks.
Cousins opened the game with a 83-yard touchdown drive, which was fueled by a 36-yard pass to CJ Ham in which the Vikings’ quarterback took a shot from a Seattle pass rusher but still found his fullback for a huge gain.
Seattle’s strategy early in the game was to keep the ball out of Cousins’ hands by pounding on the ground. The Vikings’ defense mostly let them do it, giving up 219 total yards rushing. The Seahawks’ first drive took 14 plays and more than eight minutes off the clock.
After the slow start, things got wild and didn’t stop being wild until the absolute final play of the game.
Russell Wilson did the Vikings a favor by batting his own pass out of the air and into the hands of Anthony Harris, who ran it in for a touchdown. Wilson led his club back down the field for a field goal to bring the score to 14-10 with Minnesota ahead.
Cousins then stepped up, hitting back-to-back-to-back throws to Dalvin Cook, Kyle Rudolph and Stefon Diggs to set up a field goal and give his team a seven point lead heading into the half.
While the Vikings missed a chance to make things very difficult for Seattle on the first drive of the second half and opened the door for another long Seahawks drive that tied the game at 17, Cousins and his team were very much in a strong spot to win a game that would have proven them as legitimate contenders.
But then the meltdown came. Cook fumbled and was injured on the first play of the Vikings’ second drive of the second half. Seattle went ahead with a field goal. A stalled drive put the ball back in Wilson’s hands and a communication by Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith turned into a 60-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to receiver David Moore.
Cousins followed up by throwing a strong pass on an out route to Stefon Diggs, who had the ball bounce off his hands and into those of Seattle defender Tre Flowers.
Just like that Seattle was up by 17 in the fourth quarter.
We figured to find out whether Cousins could carry over the magic from his 20-point comeback against Denver.
Cousins responded, finding Laquon Treadwell for a 58-yard touchdown. Rhodes redeemed himself by causing a fumble and getting the Vikings the ball back. Cousins marched them eight plays, 72 yards in just 2:20 seconds (with an assist to Diggs, who drew a defensive pass interference call). The Vikings’ quarterback finished the drive with a touchdown pass to Rudolph, who has recently been the red zone threat that he was in the past with Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford and Case Keenum.
A Seattle punt put the game in Cousins’ hands down 34-30 due to a missed extra point.
As Cousins walked onto the field, everyone tweeted the same thing. The broadcast was 1000% ready with its “Cousins is 0-7 on Monday Night Football” graphic. Hearts were beating fast and Seattle’s crowd was causing a tidal wave in the Puget Sound.
The Vikings picked up a first down on a 19-yard throw, setting up first-and-10 at the Minnesota 35. After finding Alexander Mattison for a 7-yard gain, Cousins missed his next two throws and turned the ball over on downs.
Still his defense had an opportunity to give their quarterback one more shot at it. There was 2:20 remaining and the Vikings had all three timeouts. Get a three-and-out and Cousins would have plenty of time for another swing.
Instead — as they did all night — the defensive line got run over. Carson picked up a first down on third-and-1 and Cousins watched blankly from the sideline.
Fittingly, Ham fumbled the kickoff with 0:20 remaining to officially end it without Cousins even getting a Hail Mary try.
Certainly more could have been done along the way. Cousins finished the game with an 87.2 quarterback rating. He overthrew Diggs on a deep ball and bafflingly targeted Treadwell on the final drive. But the stunning number of errors around him on Monday night sunk his odds of an upset in the Pacific Northwest.
“I thought he did well,” head coach Mike Zimmer said of Cousins’ play. “Made some good plays, he was under duress a few times but I thought he made some good plays, moved in the pocket pretty well, he got the ball out under some tough situations.”
“After a game like tonight, I’d like to get out there tomorrow and play the next one,” Cousins said. “You just get back to work. You understand how important these last four games are.”
The Vikings are still in line for the playoffs. Monday night won’t ruin that. However, if they are going to allow over 200 yards rushing, fumble, drop passes, miss extra points and give up easy 60-yard touchdowns in the playoffs and expect Cousins to pull a magic act they are going to get eliminated. That’s more Russell Wilson’s speed.