Need a fourth quarter comeback or a game-winning drive? Kirk Cousins is your man.
Cousins has come up clutch seven times this season when the Vikings were tied or trailing late in the fourth quarter or overtime. He's carried the team with back-to-back game-winning drives against the Lions and Panthers, and he might have three more game-tying or game-winning drives if it weren't for a series of a blunders that cost the Vikings against the Bengals, Cardinals and Browns.
The only game this season that Cousins hasn't led the Vikings back from death was the Seattle game, where it wasn't necessary because he lit up Pete Carroll's defense for 323 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-17 win.
But look the game-by-game situations where he's given the Vikings a chance to tie or win the game. Cousins is a combined 29-of-37 for 283 yards and a touchdown in seven opportunities to shed the stereotype that he's not a clutch QB.
Bengals 4Q trailing 24-21 with 1:47 to play
Starting at their own 5-yard-line, Cousins led a nine-play, 60-yard drive that set up Greg Joseph for the game-tying 53-yard field goal. Kirk was 6-of-7 for 60 yards, including hitting K.J. Osborne for a key first down on a fourth-and-four.
Bengals OT tied 24-24
Cousins was 3-for-3 for 20 yards and had the Vikings at the Cincinnati 38 when Dalvin Cook lost a fumble. The Bengals took advantage and won on a field goal.
Cardinals 4Q trailing 34-33 with 2:09 to play
Cousins was 5-of-7 for 49 yards, leading the offense from their own 26 to the Arizona 19. The Vikings still had 44 seconds and a timeout to go for the kill, or at least get closer, but Mike Zimmer elected to run 40 seconds off the clock and then burn the final timeout, leading to a missed 37-yard field goal attempt by Joseph.
Browns 4Q trailing 14-7 with 1:01 to play
Not the best example of "clutch" play as Cousins was just 3-for-7 passing with 28 yards, but the drive did take the Vikings from their own 28 to the Browns 26 with 3 seconds left on the clock. The final play of the game was a pass to Adam Thielen, who was held up in the end zone and pass interference wasn't called. Had interference been called, which is probably should've been, the Vikings would've had a chance to score and tie the game from the 1-yard-line.
Lions 4Q trailing 17-16 with 37 seconds to play
After a disastrous scenario of Joseph missing a 49-yard attempt and Alexander Mattison losing a fumble, a 16-6 lead was gone and a loss seemed imminent. But Cousins took the Vikings from their own 18 and hit Thielen for gains of 21 and 19 yards to set up Joseph for the game-winning 54-yard field goal. Kirk was 3-for-3 with 46 yards on the drive.
Panthers 4Q tied 28-28 with 42 seconds left
After the Vikings squandered another late lead, Cousins again marched the offense down the field only to again watch Joseph miss a game-winning field goal from 47 yards. But Kirk was awesome, hitting on 4-of-4 passes for 30 yards and scrambling for 16 yards.
Panthers OT tied 28-28
Cousins went for the kill in overtime, hitting Osborne on a 27-yard touchdown strike to culminate a drive in which he went 5-of-6 for 50 yards.
“I’m spent," Cousins said Sunday. "It’s an absolute grind, it’s an absolute grind every Sunday and it takes everything I’ve got. I’ve been on the other side of those losses, too, in my career over 10 years. It’s rewarding when you know how the other side feels too, to really enjoy it when you do make the play and win."
According to Pro-Football Reference, Cousins had three game-winning drives last season after producing only one in his first two seasons with Minnesota. He led nine game-winning drives during his six seasons in Washington, D.C.
Bottom line: The Vikings are 3-3 because of Kirk Cousins – and they very well could be 5-1 or 6-0 because of Kirk Cousins. The next challenge will be Cousins leading the Vikings through a post-bye gauntlet that has them facing the Cowboys (5-1), Chargers (4-2), Ravens (5-1) and Packers (5-1).