When it comes to historic NFL quarterbacks, certain names come to mind. If you’re a history buff, you might remember Bart Starr or Len Dawson; younger fans will hold up Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as all-time greats. On Sunday, however, one man did something that no NFL quarterback has ever done. It was Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings.
Cousins has had a rocky start to the season, being decried as a game manager and feeling the heat from his own teammates. So how did he make history on Sunday?
Kirk Cousins’ rocky start to the season
Despite having two talented receivers in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, Kirk Cousins didn’t get off to a strong start this season. After the Vikings split their opening four games, he even came under fire from one of his teammates.
Thielen called out the Vikings offense, saying that, at some point, they needed to throw the ball down the field. While the receiver could have been complaining about head coach Mike Zimmer’s conservative playcalling, many took his comments to be a shot at Cousins. Whether or not it was necessary, the quarterback did apologize, saying that it was his responsibility to ensure each receiver saw enough of the football.
Diggs was also unhappy with the team’s offense, even skipping practices to voice his frustration. Once again, Cousins probably didn’t deserve all of the blame, but, as the Vikings quarterback, he publically took the slings and arrows.
The Minnesota Vikings offense turns things around
Ever since the Vikings’ Week 4 loss to the Chicago Bears, Kirk Cousins has turned things around. In the three subsequent games, he threw for a total of 976 yards and 10 touchdowns, carrying the team to victory.
The quarterback seems to have taken his early-season criticisms personally and set out to prove his doubters wrong. He’s also won over Zimmer, who has allowed his quarterback to throw an increasing number of deep passes. Rather than keeping things conservative, the Vikings have opened things up, using their running game to set up play-action passes. The shift has paid dividends, carrying Minnesota to three straight wins and 108 points.
The offensive outburst has also carried Kirk Cousins into the NFL history books.
Kirk Cousins’ historic streak
While the Vikings past three games have quieted calls for Kirk Cousins’ head, they’ve also given the quarterback a unique place in history.
On Sunday, Cousins became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 300 yards and earn a passer rating over 100 in three straight games. No one else, including Tom Brady, Dan Marino, or any other all-time great you want to name, has accomplished that feat.
While no one is suggesting that the Vikings quarterback is in the same bracket as Peyton Manning and other stud signal callers, the record does highlight two things. First, it shows just how good Cousins has been during the past few weeks; if nothing else, that should prove to Minnesotans that he can thrive in the right circumstances.
The streak also poses a challenge to Cousins, however. Now that he’s shown this potential, he has to maintain this level of performance over the slog of an NFL season. At some point during the year, he’ll have a bad game. If Kirk Cousins can brush himself, stand tall next Sunday, and keep playing with a chip on his shoulder, he might find himself claiming some additional NFL records.