Cousins, Vikings have passing attack back in stride

Published 7:12 am Tuesday, October 15, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings shifted their strategy this season, determined to re-establish a running game that could not only get them in the end zone more but dominate an opponent when they need it to.

There’s still plenty of space to turn Kirk Cousins loose, though, and the deep ball was on full display against Philadelphia.

“He made some great throws,” coach Mike Zimmer said, “whether it was on the move or out of the pocket.”

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Two weeks after Cousins struggled badly in defeat at Chicago, their hyper-scrutinized quarterback is in a groove after back-to-back 300-yard games. He threw for four touchdowns to beat the Eagles 38-20 on Sunday, including a pair of home runs to Stefon Diggs in the second quarter that each covered more than half of the field.

“Man, anytime you see that ball fly in the air like that and it comes down and it’s six points for the home team, that’s what it’s all about, you know?” an appreciative linebacker Eric Kendricks said. “I always like seeing that. I mean, who doesn’t? Every person whoever watches football likes watching that.”

Cousins went 22 for 29 and took one sack. One-third of those passing plays called by offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski included a run fake by Cousins, and half of those had Cousins rolling out on a bootleg away from the run-blocking. The play action has long been a strength for Cousins, and that showed against the Eagles.

“It was an aggressive, creative game plan, and credit Kevin for the way he just kind of kept it unpredictable,” Cousins said.

After taking his share of heat last month for those performances against NFC North rivals Green Bay and Chicago, Cousins has so far delivered.

“He’s a guy we trust every week. He’s going to give us his all, and he’s going to keep getting better,” wide receiver Adam Thielen said. “He’s going to prove that he’s a top quarterback in this league and that he can play at a high level.