GREEN BAY, Wisc. — That's what the face of the franchise looks like.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins got his first taste of the Minnesota-Green Bay rivalry on Sunday afternoon and didn't disappoint, helping lead a wild comeback to force overtime in an eventual 29-29 tie.
No, Cousins did not get a win in his first game as a Viking against Green Bay. But he showed plenty of swagger and the ability to deliver in the clutch against his new team's biggest rival.
"Kirk always steps up to the plate. You see that and you want that," said Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs. "He commands the huddle, he shows what he can do each and every week.
"I'm happy that my quarterback had a good day," Diggs added. "He keeps working, and that's the type of guy Kirk is."
Added fellow wide receiver Adam Thielen: "I've seen this from him. Every time we played him when he was in Washington, this was the kind of game it turned out to be. He'd pick the defense apart and make it a game. It's hard to be surprised when you've seen it from afar, and now you're just seeing it in person."
Cousins' final stat line was eye-popping, as the quarterback completed 35 of 48 passes for 425 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. The 425 yards tied with Daunte Culpepper (at New Orleans, Oct. 17, 2004) for eighth-most in a game in Vikings history.
Cousins had a passer rating of 118.8 was the 10th-highest of his career when attempting at least 15 passes in a game. He also had his fourth-most passing yards in a regular-season game. It was the fourth time he threw four touchdown passes in a game.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Cousins played "outstanding" at Lambeau Field.
The Vikings quarterback deflected credit for one of the best games of his career, instead praising Vikings Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo and Minnesota's cast of playmakers.
"I think I grew as a player today," Cousins said. "I think Coach Flip called an outstanding game.
"The nature of the game put Coach Flip into a position time and time again where he had to call consistently back-to-back great plays and he did that," Cousins added. "I was really impressed with the way he called the game and led our offense."
The Vikings trailed 20-7 early in the fourth quarter before Cousins showed his moxie.
He hit Diggs for a 3-yard touchdown to pull the Vikings within one score. Then, after a Green Bay field goal Cousins aired out a 75-yard touchdown to Diggs, which was the sixth-longest touchdown pass of his career and the longest of Diggs' career.
"I think I could've gotten more into it," said Cousins when asked if the heave was as far as he could throw a football. "I think what was impressive about that play was finishing. If he gets tackled there or is short, who knows if we come away with a field goal or a touchdown.
"The fact that he pulled through and found a way to get six and not leave it up to the next set of plays, I think that is a mark of a great player as well: to turn that play immediately into six instead of falling down and waiting until the next snap," Cousins added.
Said Diggs: "Hopefully we hit a lot more [deep passes]."
Minnesota later trailed 29-21 with 1:45 left before Cousins orchestrated a game-tying, 75-yard drive in the clutch.
The series ended with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Thielen on a perfect throw from Cousins, who then found Diggs for the 2-point conversion.
"I knew that if I could just be really late with my hands that the ball would just drop right in there," Thielen said. "I was just trying to not show my hands so they couldn't knock it down. It shows how accurate Kirk could be, especially in critical situations."
Added tight end Kyle Rudolph: "He's a tough cookie, that's for sure. The touchdown that he threw to Adam at the end of the game with [Packers defensive tackle] Mike Daniels in his lap … it's pretty impressive. That's why we brought him here."
That set up overtime, where Cousins completed seven of nine passes for 85 yards. He twice led the Vikings down the field to get in field goal range, but Minnesota missed both attempts.
After the game in which Vikings players had **mixed emotions** on the tie, there was no wavering on Cousins' standing in the locker room.
"Kirk's communication was spot on," Vikings rookie right tackle Brian O'Neill said about his quarterback's late-game heroics. "You could tell he was firing on all cylinders at that point because we've practiced that."
Added Thielen: "We're never out of a game with the weapons we have and with Kirk as our leader."