MINNEAPOLIS - There won’t be any apologies necessary for Kirk Cousins this week after he helped lead the Minnesota Vikings to a 28-10 win over the New York Giants in the Meadowlands.
In fact, other receivers may ask to join his weekly radio show in hopes of getting the ball more. After a tumultuous week at the Vikings’ facility, Cousins had one of his best games in Minnesota with 306 passing yards and two touchdowns. They were both to his radio partner last week, Adam Thielen.
Dalvin Cook ran for 132 yards on 21 carries, and added 86 receiving yards to collect a career-high 218 total yards. The defense did the rest as the Vikings improved to 3-2 with the Philadelphia Eagles coming to U.S. Bank Stadium next Sunday. Cook became the first Viking in franchise history to get 200 total yards with at least 80 receiving yards.
The week started with an angry and frustrated Thielen talking about the Vikings needing to hit more downfield passes to win games after the Bears’ defense suffocated Minnesota’s run game. Cousins then apologized to Thielen for the lack of down field success on his weekly radio show, “Under Center with Kirk Cousins,” hosted by Twin Cities sports personality Mark Rosen.
Stefon Diggs added to the drama by not showing up to practice on Wednesday at TCO Performance Center. He returned Thursday and didn’t eliminate the possibility that he might be traded, saying, “There’s some truth to all rumors.” It was later reported that the Vikings fined Diggs nearly $200,000 for multiple in-excused absences, and missing team meetings throughout the season. Diggs made it clear on Wednesday he was frustrated, as many players were, with where the Vikings were at offensively through four games.
Cousins’ first completion on Sunday went to Diggs for 16 yards. Diggs finished the day with three catches for 44 yards. The opening drive ended with a Dan Bailey 31-yard field goal, one of four successful kicks for Bailey on the day.
Anthony Barr got a safety and an interception on rookie Daniel Jones, who was also sacked four times in the victory. The Vikings limited the Giants to 211 total yards, and kept the rookie quarterback in check with 147 passing yards, averaging just 3.5 yards per pass.
Danielle Hunter added two sacks, with Ifeadi Odenigbo and Everson Griffen adding the others for the Vikings, who finished with seven tackles for a loss in the victory.
With the Vikings defense in control, Cousins and Thielen found their chemistry. Cousins hit Thielen for their first score on a 15-yard fade route to give the Vikings a 10-0 lead in the second quarter, capping a 99-yard drive.
The Giants answered with a touchdown after Darius Slayton beat Xavier Rhodes on a 35-yard pass from Jones. It was their only score of the day.
Two more field goals from Bailey, and a safety from Barr gave the Vikings an 18-7 lead at the half. The safety came after Cook ran 22 yards to the Giants’ 2-yard line, then had the ball stripped from behind by Jabril Peppers.
Cousins hit Thielen from nine yards out for their second touchdown of the game, giving the Vikings a 25-10 lead in the third quarter. It’s Thielen’s second two-touchdown game of his career, and first since Christmas Eve in 2016 at Green Bay.
Thielen finished his day with seven catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns as Cousins had one of his best days with Minnesota since signing his $84 million, fully-guaranteed contract. Cousins finished 22-of-27 passing for 306 yards and a 138.6 passer rating. Cousins snapped a nine-game stretch where he hadn't thrown for at least 300 yards. Many of his completions came on play-action rollouts, buying himself time to find open receivers.
The Giants dominated the time of possession in the second half, but scored just three points to show for it. The Vikings’ defense forced a pair of turnover on downs, and Barr’s late interception sealed the victory. The Vikings applied consistent pressure on Jones throughout the game and never let him feel comfortable. He finished 21-of-38 for 182 yards and was sacked four times.
The Vikings out-gained the Giants 490-211 on the day. Without injured star Saquon Barkley, the Giants ran for just 64 yards. The Vikings will look to clean up their penalties. They had 12 for 112 yards.
The Vikings put aside a week of distractions and got a much-needed win in front of General Manager Rick Spielman and owners Mark and Zygi Wilf. The Wilf family is from the New York area. It’s only one win, but it should be a much more positive atmosphere at the team’s practice facility this week.