As uneven as their past two games have been, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins still has managed to beef up one stat of his that has been lacking: game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime.
He has three of them this season. In his first two years with the Vikings, he had just one.
The latest game-winning drive wasn’t extensive. In Sunday’s 27-24 overtime win over Jacksonville at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings took over in the extra period on a Harrison Smith interception at the Jaguars 46. Cousins then led the Vikings on an 11-play, 41-yard march, which included just three passes, to a winning 23-yard field goal by Dan Bailey with 1:49 left.
“When your defense creates turnovers and gives you short fields, it makes life a lot easier,” Cousins said.
The previous week featured a more nerve-wracking final drive, which also went down as a fourth-quarter comeback. Cousins drove the Vikings 75 yards, and threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Chad Beebe with 46 seconds left to beat Carolina 28-27.
Put both games together, and there is one big similarity. Cousins showed resiliency after his team fell behind by double digits, thanks in part to him losing a turnover that resulted in a touchdown.
Against the Panthers, the Vikings came back from a 24-13 deficit, which included Cousins losing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. And against the Jaguars, Cousins battled back after throwing an interception on the first play of the second half that was returned 43 yards by Joe Schobert for a touchdown and a 16-6 lead.
But he soon led the Vikings on two third-quarter touchdown drives.
“He did a great job not putting his head down and not getting mad after that interception for a touchdown,” said Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who caught nine passes for 121 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown grab late in the third quarter. “It was a great way to bounce back and keep the offense going and come out with a win.”
On the interception, Cousins threw a short pass to running back Dalvin Cook. But Cook didn’t seem to know it was coming, and Schobert stepped in front of him.
After that pick, Cousins had completed just 10 of 16 passes for 83 yards and one touchdown. He finished 28 of 43 for 305 yards and three touchdowns.
“It was just the game we had to play, and I was proud of the way we had to stay resilient,” Cousins said.