Kirk Cousins Reveals Heart-to-Heart With Adam Thielen Before Vikings Comeback

Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen

Getty Adam Thielen and Kirk Cousins

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins‘ tenure in Minnesota has been polarizing after delivering just one playoff appearance in the past four seasons.

It’s not what the organization had in mind after signing him to a historic, fully guaranteed contract back in 2018. However, the regime change under head coach Kevin O’Connell has given Cousins a new opportunity to reinvent his career.

He took a step toward that, combatting his poor reputation in primetime games on Thanksgiving. The Vikings dispatched the New England Patriots 33-26 during the day’s nightcap. Cousins completed 30 of 37 pass attempts for 299 yards three touchdowns and an interception, including leading a six-play, 71-yard game-winning drive in the fourth quarter that was capped by a touchdown connection with Adam Thielen.

It was Cousins’ fifth game-winning drive this season, the most of any season in his career with six games to go. And while his statistics are down this year, Cousins is proving he can rise to the moment — a byproduct of the team’s confidence in him this season.

Cousins revealed a heart-to-heart he had with Thielen before the game that is just one example of the unwavering support he’s received.

Kirk Cousins Says Adam Thielen, Vikings Teammates Have ‘Almost Brought Me to Tears’

Cousins’ postgame press conferences this season have become polar opposite of his demeanor a year ago in his final year with Mike Zimmer.

Cousins finished the 2021 season throwing for 4,221 yards, 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. His 1.2% interception rate ranked second among quarterbacks. He also finished the season with the fourth-best passer rating (103.1).

However, his play wasn’t producing wins with late-game scoring drives foiled by the defense hemorrhaging final daggers often. Cousins was trotted out to the press podium and expected to preach that his performance wasn’t enough.

He’s maintained that mentality of endless improvement since the start of his career, except this season, he’s had the opportunity to revel in the team’s successful 9-2 start despite already throwing more interceptions this season.

“Kevin has empowered me so much; this team has empowered me so much. The guys have just been tremendous. I can’t say enough about the way that they have had my back after these interceptions, support me all week long, support me pregame in the locker room,” Cousins said after the win over the Patriots. “Adam came over to me before we kicked off in the locker room and pulled me aside and shared an encouraging word. At times it almost brings me to tears the way these guys support me and have my back. It really adds to the fun of playing and working together.”

Kirk Cousins Continues to Preach He Must Play Better

Cousins was off to a rough start after throwing an interception in the first quarter against the Patriots that led to New England taking an early lead.

However, he bounced back and put forth one of his best performances of the season by throwing a season-high three touchdowns against one of the league’s top defenses. Despite facing a vaunted Patriots pass rush, Cousins led the Vikings to an 81.6% completion percentage, the second-highest ever produced against a Bill Belichick defense in 364 games by the veteran head coach.

After overcoming the troubling start, Cousins appears to be trending in the right direction with the final full month of the regular season on the horizon.

“Well, it’s funny because we’re winning, so I feel like talking to you guys has been a lot easier this year, but I’m not playing any better. If anything, I’m coming to these press conferences trying to smile, having to work to smile, because I’m thinking to myself, ‘Man, I’ve got to play better,’ ” Cousins said. “I appreciate winning because it does make this a little easier. But, yeah, there’s a lot in the game where you’re always saying, ‘I got to be better.’ Kickoff returns help. Big-time pass rush helps. Pinning them back field position-wise helps. There’s a lot of things that I’m not really involved in that are helping us win. I believe, I’m optimistic, that the longer I’m in this system, we’re in this system, it’s only going to get cleaner, it’s only going to get better. As I said in August, we don’t have time. Thankfully we’ve been finding a way to win in spite of it being year one in this system. There have been moments where you feel like, ‘Man, we, I got to be better here on offense for us to go where we want to go.’ I think that’s where you still feel like you’re developing.”

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