Kirk Cousins Beating on the Door of NFL History for 1 Clutch Stat

Kirk Cousins Beating on the Door of NFL History for 1 Clutch Stat
Aug 27, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

Despite bizarre narratives weaponized against him, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is beating on the door of NFL history for one clutch statistic — game-winning drives.

There was a time in 2021 when Cousins was unfairly skewered for not orchestrating enough game-winning drives. The 2021 Vikings defense notched a worst-in-20-years mark for points allowed in the final four minutes of 2nd and 4th Quarter, but some folks wanted to hear nothing of it and instead blamed Cousins for Minnesota’s underwhelming 8-9 record.

Beating on the Door
Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) gets instruction from head coach Kevin O’Connell. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

Fast forward to 2022, and Cousins is executing the same game-winning drives in 2022 that he did in 2021 — but the team’s defense is not egregiously allowing points on the scoreboard in crunchtime. Correspondingly, unlike games in 2021 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals, and Baltimore Ravens, Cousins’ game-winning drives are remaining intact. The Vikings are winning the games in 2022 that they lost in 2021.

Vikings Win-Loss Record,
in One-Score Games,
Since 2021:

2021 = 6-8
2022 = 10-0

Kirk Cousins Beating on the Door of NFL History for 1 Clutch Stat

And that 10-0 mark in close games is so snazzy that Cousins is just two game-winning drives away from the NFL record. Through Week 15, after the Vikings unthinkable comeback versus the Indianapolis Colts, Cousins has seven game-winning drives. The NFL record is held by Matthew Stafford, who had eight in 2016.

So, Cousins needs one more to tie Stafford’s record — or two to own the damn thing indefinitely. He has three games to tie or break, staring at the New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, and Chicago Bears on the remaining docket. Based on the way the Vikings win games — they haven’t won a matchup by more than eight points since Week 1 — the achievement is within reach.

Kirk Cousins Beating on the Door of NFL History for 1 Clutch Stat
Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

Too, Cousins isn’t merely “getting lucky” en route to the game-winning drive supremacy. He leads the NFL in 4th Quarter passing yards (1,181), is second with 10 4th Quarter passing touchdowns, and owns a 103.2 passer rating in the final period. He’s operating in the same pattern that he has all along as a member of the Vikings, but the team’s defense and kicker aren’t bungling certain wins.

In that regard, it’s no wonder they call football a team sport, huh?

Not for nothing, the Vikings first-year head coach, Kevin O’Connell, deserves a little love, too. Many onlookers of the team stubbornly believed the roster in 2020 and 2021 was worthy of playoff contendership, but the Vikings found ways to cough away close games — hence the 7-9 record in 2020 and 8-9 mark in 2021.

PurplePTSD: A Zimmer-ish Quote, Kirk Debates Galore, MNF
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

When O’Connell took the reins, however, the Vikings ownership group guaranteed a culture change — and culture change they got. O’Connell’s infectious, middle school-like enthusiasm has permeated all facets of the locker room, and yes, even the section that drives wins in close games. He’s an eternal optimist, hellbent on jolting players with his sideline passion — a total change of pace from the aforementioned 2020 and 2021 campaigns.

The combination of O’Connell + Cousins has emphatically worked through 15 weeks, to the tune of an 11-3 record. Cousins’ quest for NFL history via the game-winning drives stat reflects the chemistry.

And Cousins needs two more to grab history and make it his own.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).