Kirk Cousins' 2022 season ended in January when he threw short of the line of scrimmage on 4th-and-8, leading to days (weeks? months?) of talk about what could have been done differently on that play to help the Vikings avoid their 31-24 playoff loss.
And his 2023 season started Sunday, roughly eight months later, with fresh talk about a play in which he aggressively threw into a tight window near the goal line in the first half, resulting in an interception that keyed a jarring 20-17 loss to Tampa Bay.
Too conservative? Too aggressive? What's the right mix?
Maybe those aren't the right questions. As offensive coordinator Wes Phillips reminded us Tuesday, there are multiple factors contributing to the nuance of a play that either fails or succeeds.
Many of the same ones that influenced Cousins' decision eight months ago were again part of the process on Sunday's fateful play, as I talked about with the help of Phillips' dissection on Wednesday's Daily Delivery podcast.
"It's not just an interception where you critique reads, routes, splits, all those types of things. Certainly when something negative happens it gets highlighted. That is a play we expect to be able to make. We didn't make it at that point," Phillips said. "Without getting too specific into reads and those types of things, who did what and blaming anyone, we know we can be better there."
The upshot seemed to be leading to what he said next, after I asked Phillips whether Cousins is comfortable staying aggressive even after a play has a negative outcome.
"I think he's played enough football to understand and digest and process kind of what actually happened and see it the right way — to see it where he knows whether it's a correction from a receiver, whether it's himself, whether it was a pressure thing where 'I couldn't follow through,'" Phillips said. "There are a lot of reasons why balls get intercepted."
Indeed. Cousins' post-film take on the play was that he either should have led Osborn a little more, even at the risk of taking a big hit from a safety, or he should have progressed to Jordan Addison for a shorter gain and a first down.
But just as was the case on that fateful 4th-and-8 against the Giants, and to Phillips' point: none of his other options seemed very open nor did he have all the time in the world to throw.
Osborn still could have made the catch. Cousins could have made a better or different throw in the time he had. His blockers could have given him a little extra time to make a better throw or different decision. If any of those things would have happened, the entire narrative of the game — and at this point the season — might have been different.
Here are four more things to know today:
*Count former Vikings QB Tommy Kramer among those who liked Cousins' sideline fire after that aforementioned interception Sunday.
*The Lynx open the playoffs Wednesday against Connecticut. It will also be their first game since coach Cheryl Reeve vented her frustration over a Sunday loss to Indiana, comments you can hear on Wednesday's podcast. Patrick Reusse had some fun with it.
*We know Pablo Lopez and Sonny Gray will start the first two games of a presumed Twins playoff series. If there is a Game 3, did we see a formula take hold Tuesday, with Joe Ryan being piggybacked by Louie Varland in a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay?
*ESPN unleashed a massive batch of stories shedding new light on the doping scandal that rocked baseball and other sports several years ago.