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Vikings’ Kirk Cousins looks to bounce back after Eagles’ ‘assault of the pocket’

Against Philadelphia’s blitz, Pro Football Focus had Cousins completing just 4 of 12 passes for 22 yards with his one touchdown and two interceptions. For the game, he was 27 of 46 for 221 yards and a dismal passer rating of 51.1.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins throws while being pressured by Philadelphia Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, in Philadelphia.
Bill Streicher / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Philadelphia coach Nick Sirianni called what his defense did Monday night against Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins an “assault of the pocket.” It was a spot-on description.

In a 24-7 beatdown at Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles forced Cousins into a number of mistakes. He threw three interceptions and fumbled after one of his two sacks, though the Vikings were able to recover the ball.

Against Philadelphia’s blitz, Pro Football Focus had Cousins completing just 4 of 12 passes for 22 yards with his one touchdown and two interceptions. For the game, he was 27 of 46 for 221 yards and a dismal passer rating of 51.1.

“Lot of Cover 0 we got against the Eagles, and we’ve just got to be able to handle it and make plays against it,” Cousins said Wednesday, referring to the Eagles playing man-to-man coverage with no deep help while blitzing. “It’s something that we’ll see throughout the year and we’ve seen a lot throughout the past. It’s important to handle it well, and we didn’t handle it well enough on Monday night.”

Cousins_Kirk mug.jpg
Kirk Cousins

Cousins is prepared to see more blitzing when Detroit (1-1) visits U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. The Lions sacked Washington quarterback Carson Wentz five times in last Sunday’s 36-27 win over the Commanders.

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“We definitely could have helped him out a little more, and I think Kirk would be the first one to tell you there were some plays across the board there where we, myself included, pressed a little bit, trying to make a lot back up in a hurry,” Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said of the pressure Cousins faced Monday.

The Vikings (1-1) fell behind 24-7 at halftime, and all three of Cousins’ interceptions came in the second half. On the first interception, early in the third quarter, wide receiver Justin Jefferson took the blame for letting Eagles cornerback Darius Slay get in front of him. Slay had two interceptions on the night.

Cousins admitted he pressed on his second interception, one by Avonte Maddox with 2:19 left in the third quarter on third-and-7 at the Eagles 27-yard line. A field goal at least would have cut the deficit to 24-10, reducing it a two-possession game.

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“That’s what’s so important about red-zone offense is making sure you come away with three points and never feeling like you’re out of it,” Cousins said. “There’s so many times where you are behind but you just need to chip away and know that anything can happen. … The one that (Maddox) picked off in the high red zone. Trying to be aggressive but also not to a point where it hurts you.”

Running back Dalvin Cook has a sure-fire way the Vikings can help out Cousins: Catch the ball.

Cousins was hurt Monday by some dropped passes. The most costly came late in the second quarter when, with the Vikings trailing 21-7, tight end Irv Smith Jr. dropped what could have been a 63-yard touchdown catch.

“We’ve got to just make plays,” Cook said. “The people that got the ball in their hands and are supposed to have the ball in their hands got to take care of the ball, and I’m one of those guys. I’ve got to take care of the ball and make sure I make my plays.”

The Vikings also can help Cousins by running the ball better. They had just 62 yards on the ground Monday, with just 25 by running backs. Cook finished with 17 yards on a career-low six carries.

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O’Connell said the Vikings shouldn’t have abandoned the running game Monday as much as they did after falling behind. Minnesota became one dimensional, and Eagles defenders were able to tee off on Cousins.

At least Cousins has a winning history against the Lions. Since coming to Minnesota in 2018, the Vikings are 7-1 against Detroit and Cousins has averaged 279.6 yards passing in those games with 18 touchdown passes and just two interceptions.

But this could be the best Detroit team Cousins has faced with Minnesota. The Lions have shown plenty of ability under defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn to pressure the quarterback, with six sacks in their first two games.

“I’m sure (Glenn) also knows that if you can pressure and try to make some plays, that can help,” Cousins said.

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