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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Kirk Cousins’ no-show gave Vikings zero chance to beat Bills

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings signed Kirk Cousins to a three-year $84 million contract because they believed he could rise to the challenge in the event that Mike Zimmer’s defense laid an egg. On Sunday, Cousins not only came short of that expectation, he gave his team no shot at avoiding one of the most shocking and embarrassing losses in franchise history.

In a game in which the Las Vegas line had the Vikings winning by three scores, Cousins not only threw for just 44 yards on 14 passes in the first half, he was strip-sacked twice, giving the Buffalo Bills a free 10 points in the Vikings’ first two drives.

His gaffes exacerbated a poor start for the Vikings’ defense. Quarterback Josh Allen was sacked on third down to open the game, but a penalty on Linval Joseph opened the door for Allen to drive the Bills for a touchdown.

At that point, the Vikings should have been fine. After all, the Bills had been blown out by the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers in the first two weeks and appeared to have one of the NFL’s worst defenses. Cousins, who threw for 425 yards against the Green Bay Packers last week, should have been able to quickly respond. Instead the Bills went up 17-0 in an eye blink.

But with an incredible disparity in talent, the Vikings still could have turned around things quickly. It wouldn’t be supremely abnormal to see an NFL team come back from three early scores, but Cousins was unable to get the ball to Adam Thielen on third-and-5 on the Vikings’ fourth drive of the game, setting up another Bills touchdown drive.

From the get-go, Cousins looked nothing like the quarterback who shredded the Packers by hitting tight-window throws and a 75-yard bomb to Stefon Diggs. He looked more like Christian Ponder, hesitating in the pocket and flinging passes over the head of his receivers. At one point, the ball floated to the ground in between Thielen and Treadwell with both receivers looking around wondering what happened.

Cousins opened the second half by fumbling a snap on the second play of the third quarter and then saw the drive end on anther sack.

Certainly the Vikings’ defense was off from the beginning. Penalties, miscommunications and an inability to slow down the Bills’ short passes set the Vikings’ offense up in a difficult position as did Mike Priefer’s special teams group.

But it shouldn’t have made a huge difference in the result. The Bills’ defense entered the game allowing a 128.3 quarterback rating against in the first two games and a league-worst 78 points. Buffalo

On the second drive of the second half, Cousins threw into traffic, allowing the Bills’ defenders to hit Latavius Murray and pop the ball into the air for an interception.

Turns out Cousins is no Frank Reich.

Following a 1-0-1 start that should have been 2-0 if not for Daniel Carlson’s three misses, Vikings fans were justified in feeling like things were setting up for a solid start to the season. Heading out to Los Angeles on Thursday, all the Vikings had to do was take care of business and they would be on the right path to live up to their aspirations for the 2018 season.

Now it’s hard for anyone to argue for confidence going forward — especially with Cousins showing he is capable of a total meltdown a la Case Keenum in the NFC Championship game except much worse considering the opponent.

Ups and downs are nothing new for Cousins.

By ESPN’s 1-100 QBR system, he had six games of ratings under 40 last season, including a 9.2 in Week 17 against the Giants. He also put up QBR’s of 90.0 and 91.6 last year against the Raiders and Chiefs.

In a season in which the Vikings spent big dollars in the offseason on Cousins and Sheldon Richardson, they cannot afford to see Bad Kirk too many more times this year, especially in the next two weeks when they go on the road to face the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles.

And it’s become clear that if the Vikings’ defense struggles at all, they are going to have a very difficult time being a legitimate contender. That’s not what they expected when they signed Cousins.

The post Kirk Cousins’ no-show gave Vikings zero chance to beat Bills appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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