Although Vikings running back Dalvin Cook eventually gained 96 yards rushing on Monday night, it didn’t come easily. And when the running game sputtered early in the game, quarterback Kirk Cousins didn’t freak out.
“I thought he played really fast, which is important for him,” coach Mike Zimmer told reporters after the 19-13 win regarding Cousins’ performance. “He was extremely accurate. He got the ball in the right places all night. I just felt like he did a really good job of handling what the defense was giving us.”
Usually, when the running game doesn’t deliver, the Minnesota passing game craters, with Cousins developing a deer-in-the-headlights demeanor as he either rushes a throw or takes a sack. Last night, Cousins stayed calm and did what he had to do.
Plenty of credit should go to the offensive line for keeping the likes of Khalil Mack out of the backfield. But even when Cousins rolled out and had a defender in his face, Cousins delivered — which doesn’t always happen.
It also helped that the Chicago offense couldn’t take a lead in the first half, allowing the Vikings to stay patient with their offense. Even after a long kickoff return gave the Bears a 13-7 lead at the start of the second half, the Vikings stayed calm offensively. It helped that, defensively, they held firm, forcing the Bears into four straight three-and-out possessions as Minnesota made it 13-10 and then 13-13 and then 19-13.
Still, the win traces back to Cousins. When the run wasn’t there, Cousins made it happen through the air, including a 54-yard pass play to receiver Justin Jefferson on a critical second-half third-and-11. (For the night, Cousins completed 10 of 11 passes on third down.) That’s something the Vikings haven’t been able to consistently do over the past couple of years. If they can do it over the balance of the current season, the 1-5 record that has become 4-5 could keep moving in the right direction, possibly culminating in an unlikely playoff berth.
As unlikely as the postseason may be for the Vikings, it’s a lot less unlikely now than it was only 16 days ago, before the upset the Packers at Lambeau Field to start the current winning streak.
As running game sputtered, Kirk Cousins didn’t freak out originally appeared on Pro Football Talk