Cousins, Vikings look to improve, even after blowout of Jets
Published 10:19 pm Tuesday, October 23, 2018
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Kirk Cousins was happy with the victory, of course — a road win against a team Minnesota had never beaten away from home.
But the star quarterback knows the Vikings’ offense can be even better.
Cousins threw two touchdown passes, Latavius Murray ran for two scores, and the Vikings pulled away in the second half to beat the New York Jets 37-17 on Sunday for their third straight victory.
“Any time you score 37 points on the road, you’re doing something right,” Cousins said. “But there are times where it wasn’t good enough. We are so grateful for defense and special teams today because it gave us the opportunity to go out and score points.”
The Vikings (4-2-1) intercepted Jets rookie Sam Darnold three times and also recovered a fumbled snap to help lift them to their first road win against the Jets after losing the first five meetings away from home.
“We did some good things, but there are a lot of things we can work on,” wide receiver Adam Thielen said. “We were not moving the ball enough and there were a lot of plays I want back, but it’s always good to get a win.”
Minnesota couldn’t get much going consistently on offense, mostly because of going 2 of 15 on third downs.
In his first game against the Jets (3-4) since spurning their massive offer in free agency, Cousins was far from spectacular, but made some big plays late. With the game still hanging in the balance and the Vikings facing fourth-and-8 from the 34, Cousins connected with Aldrick Robinson for a TD to seal it.
“We had so many opportunities to put that game away earlier in the game, and didn’t do it,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “We have to overcome ourselves on some of those things.”
Cousins, 25 of 40 for 241 yards, opted to turn down New York’s three-year, $90 million deal in the offseason and instead chose to go to Minnesota, which signed him to a deal worth $6 million less.
After Cousins’ decision, the Jets turned their attention to the draft, where they selected Darnold with the No. 3 overall pick.
As expected, Cousins was the target of criticism of Jets fans and New York-area media.
“I never read it, so I don’t even have any knowledge to process it or incorporate it into my approach,” Cousins said. “I believe ignorance is bliss and I try to stay as ignorant as possible.”
Here are some other things to know about the Vikings’ win over the Jets:
In their first meeting, Cousins came out on top — while Darnold had arguably his worst game on a cold, windy day.
The rookie was 17 of 42 for 206 yards with a TD pass to Chris Herndon and a TD run, but was intercepted three times as New York’s two-game winning streak ended.
After going 6 of 9 for 87 yards and a touchdown with a 135.0 quarterback rating in the opening quarter, Darnold finished with the three INTs and a dismal 34.4 rating.
“I’ve just got to find completions,” Darnold said. “That’s really it. And, we’ve got to do a better job executing.”
Thielen still dealin’
Thielen became the fifth player in NFL history to get at least 100 yards receiving in seven consecutive games, catching nine passes for 110 yards and a touchdown.
He reached the milestone with a 21-yard catch in the fourth quarter. He joined Detroit’s Calvin Johnson (eight, 2012), Denver’s Demaryius Thomas (seven, 2014), Dallas’ Michael Irvin (seven, 1995) and Houston’s Charley Hennigan (seven, 1961) to accomplish the feat.
He and Hennigan are the only players to do so in his team’s first seven games to open the season.
“Stats don’t necessarily say how good you played,” Thielen said. “I’m looking forward to looking at the film and making sure I continue to get better.”
Both the Vikings and Jets will need to improve in third-down situations after this one.
Minnesota was 2 of 15, while New York was 2 of 13.
The Vikings’ first conversion didn’t come until midway through the third quarter on Thielen’s 13-yard catch after being 0 for 8 up to that point. The Jets’ first conversion came late in the third on Darnold’s 6-yard run on third-and-5.
Jets running back Bilal Powell (neck) and safety Doug Middleton (chest/shoulder) left with injuries and were scheduled to undergo tests.
New York could be severely short-handed at safety. Middleton was starting in place of Marcus Maye, who’s sidelined with a broken thumb. That leaves only Jamal Adams and Terrence Brooks as healthy players at the position.
Minnesota cornerback Xavier Rhodes left with a sprained ankle, but Zimmer said, “I don’t think it’s a big deal.” Same for linebacker Anthony Barr, who injured a hamstring.
Jets receiver Robby Anderson apologized for tossing the ball at an official late in the fourth quarter after an incompletion, drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty — and a possible fine from the NFL later in the week.
“It was just frustration and wanting to make a play and us losing a pretty tough game,” Anderson said, adding that he didn’t intend to hit the official with the ball. “It wasn’t anything malicious. It was just a reaction.”