In 2018, Kirk Cousins had his debut as a Minnesota Viking, securing a victory against his old friend Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers. Five years later, on a Monday night, Cousins found himself as a touchdown underdog against Shanahan’s Niners in his own stadium. Nevertheless, he guided the Vikings to another victory, making it a significant statement win for Minnesota in the 2023 season.
Facing the possibility of starting the season 2-5 and battling their reputation for prime-time letdowns, Cousins, despite the absence of his top weapon Justin Jefferson due to injury, threw for a season-high 378 yards and two touchdowns against one of the NFL’s toughest defenses. He outperformed 49ers’ rising star Brock Purdy in a crucial moment, connected with standout rookie Jordan Addison, and led the Vikings to a 22-17 win, rekindling their hopes for a successful season turnaround.
Cam Akers, the running back, praised Cousins, saying, “In the middle of the field, I told him, like, ‘Dude, you an effin’ dog. Like, you ballin.’ I haven’t seen many quarterbacks do that — sit in the pocket like that, under pressure, make perfect throws.”
After the game, Jefferson, who is usually the center of attention, came onto the field in regular clothing to place a diamond chain around Cousins’ neck. They even discussed the possibility of custom grills for the Midwestern quarterback.
Cousins’ performance wasn’t the sole reason for the Vikings’ victory over the 49ers, who were previously regarded as one of the most well-balanced teams in the league. Coach Kevin O’Connell demonstrated creativity early in the game, utilizing speedy receivers like Brandon Powell effectively. Addison showcased his skills with several spectacular catches. Defensive coordinator Brian Flores oversaw a unit that contained 49ers’ star Christian McCaffrey and forced late-game turnovers by Purdy.
The primary reason the Vikings believe they can contend in the NFC North, despite losing four of their first six games, is the quarterback. Kirk Cousins now leads the NFL with 16 touchdown passes in seven games. Safety Josh Metellus attested to Cousins’ elite-level play, emphasizing that if given time and opportunities, he could dominate the game.
Although it’s still uncertain if the Vikings can build on this surprising Monday night victory, and Cousins’ long-term future with Minnesota remains in question as he’s in the final year of his contract, for one evening, Vikings fans can believe again. They made a statement and demonstrated their seriousness, delivering a complete game and securing the win. The big-game victory was theirs, not the 49ers’.
Akers summed it up: “It was a statement game. We talked about that all week. ‘Let’s go make a statement, show people that we’re serious, that we are who we say we are.’ We played a complete game. And we got the ‘W.'”