The “Kirk Cousins Curse” Can Still Live On

Cousins in Comeback
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

No team had ever lost to a squad quarterbacked by Kirk Cousins and later reached the Super Bowl — until last Sunday.

The “Kirk Cousins Curse” Can Still Live On

The Detroit Lions were up 24-7 over the San Francisco 49ers, a team favored by a touchdown entering the matchup. But then the 49ers rallied, erased the Lions’ 24-7 lead in about 30 minutes of real-life time, took the lead, and completed the most substantial comeback in the history of the NFC Championship. And in a mind-bending turn of events, even the Minnesota Vikings had never collapsed that mightily on a grander stage.

Kirk Cousins Curse
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Soon after, many social media users called the “Kirk Cousins Curse” dead and offered mini-obituaries.

But why does it have to die?

Instead, the Kirk Cousins Curse — if folks want it to be a thing at all — can just morph into, “No team has ever lost to a squad led by Kirk Cousins and won a Super Bowl.” It’s a slight modification that can still pack the heavy, weird punch regarding Cousins’ apparent voodoo.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, facing the Patrick Mahomes-led Kansas City Chiefs, the 49ers actually have a real chance to lose. No football team has repeated as Super Bowl champions since the New England Patriots in 2003-2004, but if some new dynasty were to bust the drought, it would probably be a team led by Mahomes, whose resume is already stamped for Canton.

San Francisco opened as a 1.5-point favorite to win the chip late Sunday night, and the point spread has since vacillated to and fro, currently settled on the Chiefs as two-point underdogs. That differential could tighten in the next 11 days, depending on sportsbooks’ moods.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Of course, the Lions were about an hour away from extending the Kirk Cousins Curse in the NFC title game, but Detroit met a dreadful fate. The Lions became the first team in NFL history to lose a conference championship game when leading by 17+ points at halftime. Before Sunday, all other teams were 21-0 when holding such a lead at the half. It was a historic meltdown by the Lions. On their biggest stage ever — outscored 27-0 in less than an hour.

Detroit joined this naughty company as one of the only teams in the history of the NFL playoffs to lose a 17+ point lead at halftime:

  • 2023 Lions
  • 2022 Chargers
  • 2017 Chiefs
  • 2013 Chiefs
  • 2016 Falcons
  • 1992 Oilers
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Overall, if one wishes to lament the end of the original Kirk Cousins Curse, Detroit can be fairly blamed. Otherwise, just adjust the criteria. Should the Chiefs win, then no team defeated by a Cousins-led squad has ever won a Super Bowl.


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 Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.