The suddenly surging Minnesota Vikings (3-3) moved into a tie for second place in the NFC North with their overtime victory over the Carolina Panthers in Week 6, which was once again fueled by quarterback Kirk Cousins, who continues posting career-best numbers in a darkhorse MVP-candidate season.
Cousins finished Sunday completing 33-of-48 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns. He didn’t throw an interception against the Panthers and tossed the final dagger of the game with a 27-yard overtime winner to wide receiver K.J. Osborn.
"I'm spent," Cousins said after the game. "It's an absolute grind, and it's an absolute grind every Sunday. It takes everything I got. But I've been on the other side of those losses, too, in my career over the 10 years, so it's rewarding when you know how the other side feels too. You really enjoy it when you do make a play and win it."
Cousins has been making plays all season. He’s completing nearly 70% of his passes for 1,769 yards, 13 touchdowns, and just two interceptions through six games. He’s seventh in the NFL in passing yards and eighth in touchdown passes and is on pace for a career-high in yardage (5,012) and touchdowns (37). His Pro Football Focus grade (89.9) is the best he’s ever earned from the analytics company, and he trails only Tom Brady and Russell Wilson for the highest-graded quarterback in the league so far this year.
Now in his 10th season and at 33 years old, it’s safe to say we know who Cousins is as a player. His reputation for failing to deliver in big spots has overshadowed an otherwise fantastic career that’s included 4,000 or more passing yards in five of the last six seasons and no fewer than 26 touchdowns in any of those years, too. He’s a reliably productive passer who’s finding ways to keep the Vikings relevant nearly halfway through the 2021 season.
If Minnesota can continue stacking wins together, Cousins will receive the attention his season warrants. For now, he’s producing in the shadows of Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, and even Aaron Rodgers in the NFC North. But that doesn’t mean his value to the Vikings is any less than those quarterbacks have for their teams.
Cousins will get his chance to launch the year he’s having into the national conversation when the Vikings return from their bye in Week 8. The Dallas Cowboys come to Minnesota on Halloween in Week 8’s Sunday Night Football matchup, and if Cousins leads his team to an upset win, the MVP talk will begin to get very real.