Vikings’ Kirk Cousins ​​- Loss to Giants ‘most likely’ toughest of career

MINNEAPOLIS — This season appeared totally different for Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. His workforce received 13 regular-season video games, by far probably the most in his career. In Kevin O’Connell, he linked up with a coach who trusted him to throw extra passes than he had ever thrown, with fewer schematic guardrails than he had ever confronted.

In the top, nonetheless, Cousins ​​discovered himself in a well-known place Sunday at US Bank Stadium: heading dwelling for the offseason with no playoff win. The Vikings’ 31-24 loss to the New York Giants was his third defeat in 4 career postseason video games, and it is one which he stated delivered a brand new degree of ache.

“It hurts,” Cousins ​​stated. “It hurts. I’m most likely lacking one, however that is most likely the toughest loss I’ve had in my career.”

Asked why, he initially stated: “All the apparent causes.”

Later, Cousins ​​elaborated a bit, noting the Vikings’ regular-season success and the chance that some pending free brokers — together with middle Garrett Bradbury and tailback Alexander Mattison — may depart within the offseason.

“Thirteen wins, I have not actually sniffed that earlier than,” Cousins ​​stated. “And simply the truth that the group, the Garretts and the Alexes that … are free brokers that aren’t assured to be again, I believe it is arduous to stroll off the sector.”

In some methods, Cousins ​​put collectively his greatest recreation of the season Sunday. He accomplished 31 of 39 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns, whereas working for a 3rd, and compiled his greatest Total QBR of the season (85.2).

Overall, he had an odd yr in his first season with O’Connell. On the one hand, he threw a career-high 14 interceptions and completed with a career-low QBR of 49.8. On the opposite hand, he led eight fourth-quarter comebacks among the many Vikings’ NFL-record 11 one-score wins, and he had an opportunity at one other Sunday in opposition to the Giants.

But the sport primarily ended when Cousins ​​threw brief of the sticks to tight finish TJ Hockenson on fourth-and-8 close to midfield. Giants security Xavier McKinney tackled Hockenson after a 3-yard acquire with 1:44 remaining.

Asked in regards to the choice to throw to Hockenson fairly than receiver Justin Jefferson or one other vertical menace, Cousins ​​stated: “Just a shell learn there. Saw single excessive. Tried to work Justin. Didn’t be ok with placing it up to Justin. And then after I went to progress, I simply felt like I used to be about to get sacked, and I felt like I’ve obtained to put the ball in play. I can not go down with a sack, so I believed I’d kick it out to TJ

“I had thrown brief of the sticks on a number of totally different events within the recreation, and even going again a number of weeks, and simply felt like throwing brief of the sticks is not the top of the world. It was clearly tight protection so he did not have an opportunity to draw back. I believed I used to be going to go down and take a sack if I did not put it up.”

O’Connell acknowledged that he approached Cousins ​​afterward to perceive why he made that throw, and the coach stated: “I might have accomplished a greater job in the intervening time.”

O’Connell stated he would have most popular a downfield throw however did not need to load up Cousins ​​with directives earlier than the snap.

“The intent as a playcaller is you are not going to name a main idea the place any person’s brief of the sticks, particularly if it is fourth down,” O’Connell stated. “Looking again on it, perhaps I might have been a little bit bit extra, ‘Hey, that is the place you need the ball to go.’ But I need Kirk to have the option to play and be free on the market to make good choices. He did all night time lengthy.

“In the top, I take a look at it because it’s as a lot on me with that playcall, regardless that we had [eligible receivers] with an opportunity [to get] down the sector perhaps. There’s at all times a play that could possibly be higher.”

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