Kirk Cousins’ Stinker and Other Takeaways From the Vikings Loss
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings (5-6) went into Santa Clara looking to soldify their position in the NFC playoff hunt versus the 49ers (6-5). It would not work out for Minnesota as they fell to San Francisco, 34-26. The Vikings defense went into this game hobbled, missing their entire starting defensive line, and it showed as the Niners were able to run the ball whenever they wanted.
The Vikings became even more hobbled when Anthony Barr left the game, and then Dalvin Cook was carted off the field with a shoulder injury. Even with the injuries, Minnesota had a chance to come back late, but a couple missed opportunities ultimately led to the loss. Here are four Vikings players on that stood out in this one.
First and foremost, this was one of the few poor performances from Kirk Cousins this season. His interception early in the third quarter was the real turning point in this one, and it led immediately to an Elijah Mitchell touchdown. San Francisco would go up 28-14 after the TD and not look back.
Then late in the game with a chance to tie, Kirk Cousins faced pressure on the goal line, and he sailed a ball way over Justin Jefferson’s head. He would do the same thing on Minnesota’s last offensive snap in their desperation attempt to come back. Looking at the numbers, they aren’t bad, but the Kirk Cousins we have seen over and over again this year would have been the reason Minnesota was able to stay in the game, not the other way around.
On a positive note, Kene Nwangwu made another fantastic special teams play this week. He returned a kick 99 yards to the house; his second kick return score in the past three weeks. In the wake of Dalvin Cook’s injury, he also took his first carry in the Vikings offense for seven yards. Hopefully Cook will be able to return for next week’s game, but if not, it will be interesting to see if Nwangwu is utilized in the Vikings offense at all.
In another uncharacteristically weak performance, Eric Kendricks did not have one of his better games as a Viking. Perhaps it is in part due to all the other injuries on that side of the field, but he certainly did not do his part to glue the team back together. Typically, we would see Kendricks make a few key plays in these types of close games, but this week he was quite silent, totaling just three tackles on the day.
Even in a loss, Adam Thielen had a special performance. For the first time in his career, he recorded two touchdowns in the first half of a game. This entire season, Thielen has been a consistent red zone threat for Minnesota, and that continued as he recorded his 9th and 10th touchdowns of the season. However, that production that we saw in the first half all but disappeared in the second. After Cousins’ interception, Thielen had zero catches and was targeted just once.