The Minnesota Vikings took a step back in the NFC playoff picture on Sunday, falling to the San Francisco 49ers and losing Dalvin Cook to a shoulder injury.
The Vikings got going early when Adam Thielen made a pair of touchdown grabs in the first half. Cousins connected with Thielen for a three-yard touchdown on the second drive of the game before finding him again on a diving 20-yard grab in the second quarter.
But while the Vikings were able to put up points, the 49ers had an answer. Deebo Samuel tied the game on a 20-yard run after Thielen's first touchdown and the Vikings' woes at the end of the half resurfaced when San Francisco converted a 3rd-and-13 on the way to a pass from Jimmy Garoppolo to Jauan Jennings.
Those issues bled into the second half when Samuel scored his second rushing touchdown of the game to go ahead 21-14. On the next drive, Cousins threw an interception to Azeez Al-Shahir that set up a two-yard touchdown run by Elijah Mitchell to put San Francisco up 28-14.
The Vikings kept coming back beginning with a six-yard touchdown run by Alexander Mattison but Greg Joseph missed the extra point. After holding the 49ers to a field goal on the next drive, Kene Nwangwu made his impact on the game with a 99-yard kickoff return to the house.
After getting a rare stop on the following drive, Dalvin Cook was injured on a play where he fumbled and set San Francisco on the doorstep. Cook was on the ground for several minutes before being carted off the field but the Vikings were able to hold the 49ers to a field goal.
Down 34-26, the Vikings answered with a drive that got inside the San Francisco 10 but decided to run Mattison twice on first and second down. After Cousins threw an incomplete pass on third down, he lined up under the guard on fourth down and was forced to call a timeout.
It was a bad omen of things to come as Cousins' pass sailed out the back of the end zone, allowing the 49ers to take over on downs.
San Francisco went to town on an undermanned defensive line, running for a season-high 208 yards on the ground and averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Although Robbie Gould missed a field goal to give Minnesota a final chance, their drive stalled at the 40-yard line, giving San Francisco a crucial victory in the NFC playoff picture.
The Vikings fell to 5-6 with the loss and into a log jam with Atlanta and New Orleans for the final playoff spot in the NFC. Minnesota will look to rebound when they travel to winless Detroit next weekend.