Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins played as well as he could have in the team’s 31-24 playoff loss to the New York Giants on Sunday and he took the defeat pretty hard.
Cousins was 31-of-39 for 273 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a rushing touchdown.
Though he didn’t manage to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter and threw a pass very short of the first-down marker on the final drive, he led Minnesota to an NFC North title and got them to within a touchdown of a divisional-round appearance.
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“It hurts,” Cousins told reporters after the game. “I'm probably missing one, but this is probably the toughest loss I've had in my career. It hurts.”
Minnesota finished with 13 wins during the regular season. Cousins said he hoped guys like Garrett Bradbury and Alexander Mattison would return for the 2023 season and beyond and it was unfortunate he couldn’t provide a long playoff run for them.
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“Thirteen wins is really – haven't really sniffed that before, so just the fact that the group, the Garretts and the Alexes that are free agents that there's no guarantee they're going to be back, I think it's hard to walk off the field,” he explained. “You want them all back, and you just don't know, and I think that unknown is always tough.”
Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell was asked about coaching Cousins and how he’s developed in his system over the course of the season.
“He's grown tremendously from previously when I worked with him in '17. He is a competitor. He's tough. He's incredibly durable,” O’Connell said. “Threw the ball at a very high level all season long, made game-winning plays for us all season long when we had to have them. I thought he competed each and every week to put our offense in a position to have success, and he was always our leader each and every week.
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“When things didn't go our way, that guy was out in front ready to go back to work. He was one of the reasons why I believe we didn't lose two games in a row. We responded to adversity, and he's a heck of a leader for us. Much beyond just being our quarterback and our leader on the offensive side, just really for our whole football team.”