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Lunchbreak: Cousins 'Difficult for Any Defense to Defend'

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins had a night for the record books, but it unfortunately wasn't enough to lift Minnesota over the Rams on Thursday Night Football.

Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com delved into Minnesota's 38-31 loss, first highlighting the positives in Cousins' bounce-back performance after a tough outing against Buffalo. Bergman wrote:

In passing for 422 yards, Cousins set a franchise record for most passing yards through four games. His accuracy and rapport with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs is difficult for any defense to defend. (Thielen's 473 receiving yards through four games are the most by a Vikings receiver, breaking Randy Moss' mark from 2003.) Down the stretch, Cousins even displayed out-of-pocket mobility on a game-high 19-yard run. Despite his performance last week, he's still worth the guaranteed pact Minnesota offered him this offseason, lest Vikings fans overreact to one unsettled afternoon.

Thursday's game also raised questions about the Vikings defense. The unit was more effective in the second half, but it was too little, too late against the undefeated West Coast team.

Bergman called the Rams offense "something special." He pointed out the Vikings high-caliber players but argued that the team hasn't put together a "great" defensive half "worthy of its roster" this season.

The Rams juggernaut offense makes most defenses look unprepared and overwhelmed, but [Vikings Defensive Coordinator] George Edwards' unit was supposed to be different. Instead, without Everson Griffen on the defensive line and down starting cornerback Trae Waynes (concussion), the Vikings allowed over 500 yards of offense for the first time [under Head Coach Mike Zimmer].

PFF offers takeaways from Vikings-Rams contest

In a new content series called "ReFocused," analytics site Pro Football Focus puts together an immediate reaction to games with takeaways for both teams.

The PFF analytics team looked at the Vikings defense, saying that cornerback Xavier Rhodes "had a tough night" against Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks.

The Rams speedster was able to beat Rhodes on a crossing route to keep an early Rams drive going on a third-and-long, and then Rhodes would go on to commit two defensive holding penalties matched up against Cooks, the second of which he compounded on when he kicked a flag and picked up an unsportsmanlike penalty.

It was an ugly night for the defense overall, but Sheldon Richardson played well for the most part. Richardson was able to pick up a handful of pressures and also tallied a few stops in run defense.

PFF also evaluated the Vikings offense and said the unit has been "everything Minnesota fans could have hoped for going into this season."

They've now put up over 400 yards in passing in two out of their four games, but their record is just 0-1-1 in those games. The defense just allowed too many big plays in the passing game to the Rams, and the Vikings secondary needs to find its way to complement its now fully competent offense.

Vikings athletic trainer honored by alma mater

The Vikings athletic training staff is well-revered across the league, and one of its members was recently recognized by his alma mater.

Assistant athletic trainer Rob Roche was honored as the 2018 Distinguished Alumni by Marian Catholic High School (Tamaqua, Pennsylvania), from which he graduated in 1994.

The 2018 season marks Roche's 13th with the Vikings.

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