Last week, Heavy’s senior NFL reporter Matt Lombardo led a Friday mailbag segment with a question regarding the Vikings’ contender status approaching the playoffs. An anonymous executive, who “worked in the same building” with Cousins, ripped the Vikings quarterback, calling Minnesota “pretenders.”
Twenty-four hours later, Cousins put forth the comeback of the century in a 39-36 overtime victory over the Indianapolis Colts that left the executive eating his words.
NFL Executive Says Vikings QB Kirk Cousins ‘Chokes Under Pressure’ A Day Before Largest Comeback in NFL History
Entering Week 15, Lombardo took the temperature of the Vikings’ contender status following the loss to Detroit, leading to a brutally honest assessment from the executive.
Question: What’s the contender barometer reading for Minnesota right now? Are the Vikings pretenders, or a team that is seen as more than a one-and-done in the postseason?
Few teams have been more difficult to get a read on this season than the cardiac Minnesota Vikings.
Entering Week 15, the Vikings sit atop the NFC North at 10-3, with nine of their victories coming by a one-score margin. However, Minnesota’s 34-23 road loss to the Detroit Lions raises significant questions about whether this team is capable of anything more than possibly advancing past Wild Card weekend.
“I’ll say they’re pretenders,” an NFC personnel executive told Heavy. “Remember, Kirk Cousins has only one playoff win in his career.”
Cousins is just 1-3 in the postseason, and despite currently sitting No. 7 in the NFL in passing yards and tied for 10th in touchdowns through 14 weeks, the executive is bearish that the 34-year-old is capable of leading a lengthy postseason charge.
“I hate to say it, but Kirk chokes under pressure,” the executive said. “I know, we were in the same building for a while. Minnesota also has a rookie head coach, and that’s never good going into the playoffs.”
Cousins’ comeback on Saturday put the executive’s words to the test. The veteran quarterback threw for a career-high 460 yards and four touchdowns to clinch the Vikings’ first NFC North division title since 2017.
Embodying his inner Tom Brady, Cousins has become a master of the fourth-quarter comeback, leading the NFL with seven game-winning drives through 14 games, per Pro Football Reference.
While Cousins can’t truly prove the executive’s critique wrong until the postseason, he’s had a wealth of positive experiences to pull from that should give Minnesota confidence moving forward.
Vikings Still Have More to Play For With 3 Games Left in the Regular Season
While a playoff berth is already sealed, the Vikings (11-3) are still jockeying for home-field advantage in the postseason that will be crucial.
The Philadelphia Eagles (13-1) remain the top seed in the NFC, however, quarterback Jalen Hurts suffered a shoulder sprain that could sideline him for a few weeks. Philadelphia would have to lose the rest of their regular season games for the Vikings to overtake the No. 1 seed.