Curse of Cousins was no match for the Curse of the Lions

A dream season for the Lions ended in excruciating fashion Sunday, with Detroit self-destructing after taking a 17-point lead into halftime and eventually losing 34-31 to the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.

It was a true horror show, a smorgasbord of gaffes ranging from key dropped passes, to an untimely turnover, to questionable coaching decisions to plain bad luck.

It was hard to divide the blame, as there was plenty to go around — though Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse gave most of it to Lions head coach Dan Campbell on Monday's Daily Delivery podcast for not sending out his field goal unit while leading 24-10 in the second half.

Campbell has been aggressive all season, often times with the data backing up those decisions. But sometimes the game flow should dictate game decisions. Having a chance to settle your team down and restore a three-score lead sure seems like one of them.

Instead, a dropped pass on fourth down completely changed the momentum and outcome of the game. The Curse of the Lions, which looked like it was melting away with a Super Bowl in sight, instead remained in full force.

The force as strong enough, in fact, to override another lesser-known and more curious curse: The Curse of Kirk Cousins.

Did you know that before Sunday, no team had reached the Super Bowl in a season in which it lost a game to a team quarterbacked by Cousins?

It's a strange thing, period, and perhaps even a stranger thing to know. I hadn't heard about it until late last week when I came across this piece, which lays it out in great detail.

The 49ers, in fact, were just the third team to reach an NFC title game in the same season as a loss to Cousins — a quarterback with 76 career wins, mind you. Among those are 14 wins against eventual playoff teams, but the first 13 — including the Packers this year — had all come up short of the Super Bowl.

I have neither the time nor inclination to run the numbers on similar quarterbacks as Cousins. What I will point out is this: Even knowing about the "curse" feels a bit like piling on for no reason — the sort of thing that one would only know if facts were dredged up specifically to besmirch his name.

But it also does play into the "Cousins doesn't beat good teams" narrative, so there perhaps is something to be gleaned from the stat other than ill will.

Vikings fans at least should be happy that it was the 49ers, not the Packers, who broke the curse this year.

Here are four more things to know today:

Everyone sure seems to be mad at the *checks notes* Western Conference co-leading Timberwolves right now. They'll take a 32-14 record into a game tonight at Oklahoma City, the other co-leader with that identical record. I don't know if I can handle the "sky is falling" takes that would result from a Wolves loss, so maybe they should just go ahead and win?The Wild have a 6% chance of making the playoffs at the break. Tear it down as much as you can, Bill Guerin.Royce Lewis missed a ton of time last season. Byron Buxton didn't play a game in centerfield. Carlos Correa wasn't healthy. If even two of those three things are different this season, the Twins — who still managed to win the AL Central in 2023 — will benefit greatly.Star Tribune Vikings writer Andrew Krammer will join me on Tuesday's podcast to talk about the Vikings' offseason so far.