Vikings Film Review: Kirk Cousins surgical in Vikings win over Bears
The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Chicago Bears 29-22 for an exciting victory on Sunday in U.S. Bank Stadium.
The offense of the Minnesota Vikings was unstoppable in the first half of their Week 5 win over the Chicago Bears, scoring touchdowns on their first three drives before punting and missing a field-goal attempt on their last two drives of the first half. Kirk Cousins set a Vikings’ franchise record when he completed his first 17 passes of the game and what could have been 18 if he was not forced to get rid of the ball on a naked bootleg due to pressure.
Minnesota also added a new wrinkle to their offense this week, incorporating some RPOs (run-pass option) into the game and letting Cousins sort the defense out. It looks like the Vikings are getting more comfortable in Kevin O’Connell’s new offensive system each week.
They dominated the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 against their quarters coverage, then struggled against the press coverage scheme with a safety over the top to double cover Justin Jefferson that the Philadelphia Eagles (Week 2) and the Detroit Lions (Week 3) implemented, and now during the last two weeks, the offense has been rolling.
They struggled to finish drives last week against the New Orleans Saints, settling for field goals when getting into opposing territory and struggling to find the end zone.
However, Minnesota came out against the Bears this week and put it all together on the offensive side of the ball. They scored on their first three possessions and went 12-for-15 on third down, easily their best conversion rate of the season.
Without having a standout corner capable of shadowing Jefferson, Chicago was forced to mix up their coverages, throwing both man and zone coverages at the Vikings. It seemed that no matter what the Bears came out with, Minnesota had an answer for it.
Jefferson went nuclear, finishing with 12 catches for 154 yards and a clutch two-point conversion reception from Cousins. Jefferson also completed a 23 yard pass to running back Dalvin Cook on a 3rd-and-long play to get the Vikings into Chicago territory, which then set up another Minnesota touchdown.
Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins was at his best vs. the Chicago Bears
Statistics and numbers aside, Vikings fans should be ecstatic with Cousins’ performance in Week 5. He was surgically precise, in rhythm, and completely in control of the offense. He even made plays with his feet, rushing for a huge first down on the final touchdown drive after avoiding the Bears’ pass rush.
Even the mistakes on offense Minnesota made this past Sunday should excite Vikings fans. Taking a look at Cousins’ interception, Minnesota ran what the veteran quarterback is best at – their play-action naked bootleg.
Last week against the Saints, the Vikings ran the same play and Cousins checked the ball down immediately to tight end Johnny Mundt, who let the ball slip through his fingers for an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-short.
Even though the pass was intercepted, Minnesota fans should take pleasure in knowing Cousins is conscious of keeping his eyes downfield on these types of plays.
He has missed open receivers downfield in favor of checking the ball down several times this season as well as over the course of his career. The interception shows he is looking to take more of these shots downfield off of play action, which is being used to set up these types of big plays.
Cousins easily had the check down to fullback C.J. Ham in the flat on this play, but he opted to shoot for the first down when he targeted Adam Thielen on a crosser coming from the boundary.
Thielen was open on the play, however, Cousins’ throw was just a few seconds late, which allowed Thielen’s crossing route to drift into the zone of Bears cornerback Kindle Vildor, who was able to undercut the route for the interception.
If Cousins looks at Thielen first instead of Ham, this is a big completion for a first down. The delay allowed Vildor, who was originally covering Ham as the cover 2 corner in the flat, to read Cousins and drop back to where Thielen was for the interception.
The interception did come at a time in the game that allowed Chicago to kick a field goal and take the lead with 9:26 left in the fourth quarter. Luckily, a long Justin Fields touchdown run was called back after a block in the back penalty was drawn by former Vikings receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
For the third week in a row, Cousins led Minnesota on a game-winning drive. He was spectacular all Sunday long, especially when the team needed him the most.
On a 3rd-and-5, well into Bears territory, trailing 22-21, Cousins did something we rarely see him do. He felt the pressure coming, and instead of taking the sack and kicking a field goal that would put the Vikings up 24-22, the quarterback took off running and picked up the first down with his legs. He even put a move on Chicago defensive back Jaquan Brisker that helped him fall forward for the first down.
Cousins would later sneak it in from the one-yard line to put the Vikings up 27-22 and then 29-22 after a completed two-point conversion to Jefferson. Captain Kirk took over the game on Sunday.
Kirktober might be in full effect. This past Sunday, we saw an aggressive Cousins, yet one that had full control of both the offense and the game itself. He took what the defense gave him and made plays when the team needed him to as well.
It was an all-around great game from Cousins, who showed adjustments and improvements from the past several weeks, and one that Minnesota fans should be referencing down the road.