Vikings QB Kirk Cousins – Media Availability – December 26, 2021

All right, a difficult loss at home. You know, certainly frustrated. Another one-possession game. We didn’t pull it out. As I look back at it, just quickly, I felt that the red zone inability to score touchdowns and instead kick field goals, at best. Obviously the one drive we didn’t even kick a field goal. In this league, it tends to hurt you when you don’t score touchdowns and you settle for field goals. I think we were 2 for 12 on third down. That’s obviousl7 not good enough. And we need to find ways to stay on the field and just score points throughout the game, not just in spurts. Those are my thoughts coming away from it.


Q: What did you see with that red zone offense?

A: There were so many plays, it’s hard to say any one thing. It’s just we didn’t string enough together.


Q: The run game seemed to kind of put you guys behind the sticks all game. Why do you think the run game didn’t get working?

A: I don’t have a great answer for you. Until I watch the film, I won’t be able to help you, but I think that they did a good job upfront. The Rams have a good front, and we just weren’t able to make enough plays. We did at times. We had a couple of good runs here and there. But I guess we just didn’t churn the four or five-yard runs that kind of keep you on schedule.


Q: Justin Jefferson was just saying he thought there was a lack of energy from the team kind of when he got here and at the start of the game. Anything you can put your finger on whether that was the case or not?

A: We’re playing a division leader at home. I think you just have to bring your own energy by making plays. We have to find ways to start fast and create that energy.


Q: Jefferson also said he wishes the Vikings were more aggressive in the red zone. Do you wish you were more aggressive in the red zone?

A: No, I think when you look back at the plays — you know — right off the turnover we called a pass and took a sack, so that drive kind of got set back because the first play we didn’t have a good productive play. We took a sack. So I go back and am hard on myself, saying, “How can I avoid the sack? How can I get the ball out quickly?” And so, you know, I think there were plenty of times to be aggressive and take our shots. We just didn’t make it happen when they were called.


Q: On that 3rd and 6 midway through the third quarter, it looked like the ball kind of came out of your hand weird. Were your ribs affecting you at all playing today or what happened on that one specifically, the one that was supposed to go to Mattison?

A: Oh, no. That ball went where I wanted it to. I felt, if anything, I could have worked Justin late. He was kind of getting held up and might have popped open in the back corner of the end zone late. That was where I was thinking. I think the throw, the ball went where I wanted it to because the guy matched him, so I wanted to put it in a safe spot.


Q: There was a 2nd and goal at the four and Aaron Donald had a pretty relatively easy tackle for a loss. Talk about his impact, not only in the red zone but just what he was doing not only to your passing game but the running game as well.

A: It’s hard for me to say because I turn my back so much or I’m carrying out the fake, so I didn’t get to see it, but I’m sure he had an impact throughout the game.


Q: How did you feel out there playing with the rib injury today and how did that impact you, if at all?

A: It didn’t impact me. I felt fine. I felt just fine.


Q: How surprised were you when they kicked the onside there at the end of the first half?

A: Yeah, I don’t know if that was the outcome they wanted, going right at the guy, or if they did, so be it. It certainly gave us a short field and gave us a chance there.


Q: I think it was nine seconds left and you had Jefferson there. What did you see on that?

A: I was just trying to stop him in the zone. I felt like a defender was coming and if I led him, the defender was going to undercut it, and based on the defender’s reaction after the play, he thought so too. So I was just trying to stop him in the zone, but he doesn’t know that. He’s running his route to his spot. And so, I just said to him afterwards, “Hey, I’m just trying to throttle you there because I see that that’s the window to throw in.” But he knows he’s got to stay on the move and it’s hard to adjust at that point.


Q: And you’re just hoping that maybe he reads it that way, the same way you’re reading it?

A: Yeah, you’re just thinking maybe he gets his eyes back and fields it. There’s a lot of times when you throw a ball and you see the safety coming, you’re just trying to stop him or put it on one shoulder or another. And that was one where I saw a void, but when you throw it, you kind of know it’s going to be tough if he’s ripping in there like he’s supposed to be.


Q: Justin was saying the offense maybe let the defense down a little bit, failing to take advantage of the three interceptions the defense got. Do you agree with that?

A: I just think we got to get points off turnovers, preferably touchdowns. That’s something that I don’t know we did well enough today. And then much of the season, we haven’t been able to create enough points off turnovers.


Q: Did it feel like there could have been more opportunity maybe to scheme Jefferson open a little bit more? Didn’t feel like he was in motion at all. He wasn’t lined up in the backfield, especially early on to get some of that momentum to build off on?

A: You know, I don’t know. I think it’s a balance of we want to run the football, we want to stay balanced. They played off of him when they could to kind of prevent the deeper throws. And the safeties did a good job of staying on top. I don’t know that I would agree with that statement, but, again, maybe I’d be corrected if I go back and watch it. It’s hard to say right now.


Q: With Sean going on the COVID list, any additional precautions you take this week in the quarterback room?

A: Yeah, it just is what it is. I mean, at this point, you just have to follow the protocols and be disciplined. There’s a lot of people not testing, so it’s in our building, it’s going to be in our building, it’s going to spread. We just have to be disciplined to keep our distance and make sure that, to the best of our ability, we don’t get it. But it is going to be difficult.


Q: How do you look at where the team stands now? You controlled your own destiny playoff-wise heading into this game. But, now, you got to rely on others, obviously.

A: Yeah, that’s why when I came in, I’m saying I’m frustrated and I’m disappointed. We had an opportunity at home here. It’s disappointing because like you said, with a win here today, you do control destiny and you’re in a better place. So, it’s disappointing.


Q: You guys got it down to three and then they had that punt return. What did that do to the psyche on the sideline?

A: You know, we’re getting the ball right back after it, so you’re just saying what’s important now. It’s a mindset of, “All right, now let’s go get seven and try to get right back in it.” I do think that you create energy by the way you play and you bring that, and if you’re not playing well, there’s not going to be a lot of energy. So I always look to myself to say that’s where it starts.