EAGAN, Minn. – Kirk Cousins' extra-fiery response to Minnesota's walk-off win Sunday was exactly the type of emotion Head Coach Mike Zimmer has been looking for.
Some speculation circulated among fans when a sideline exchange – both verbal and physical – was shared between Cousins. Both easily explained the situation as nothing more than a celebration, though.
"Honestly, he's doing exactly what I want him to do. He's being a leader, he's being vocal, he's showing emotion. I've been talking to him about it all year," Zimmer told Twin Cities media members Monday. "It's no different than when [Sam] Bradford tackled me in practice, because I was trying to get him to be the same thing.
"He came over and said, 'You like that?' and kind of gave me a shove, and I shoved him back, and it was all good," Zimmer added.
Asked shortly after the game, Cousins said, "I was just celebrating with him. I was just fired up."
The Vikings allowed themselves to revel in the win that almost wasn't, but it's right back to business this week.
"It's a win," Zimmer said, acknowledging that it certainly wasn't pretty. "And I think the good thing about it is that we're not all happy about how we won. I think it's easy, human nature, that after you win you're maybe not as focused or something like that, and right now they need to be focused again."
Anthony Barr, who made his return to game action after nearly 13 months, echoed Zimmer's sentiments.
"It probably should've never come to that, but you see something crazy every week it seems, so just have to continue to be better in those end-of-game situations," Barr said. "And try not to be in those positions where we have to put something together in 30 seconds to win the game."
Vikings center Garrett Bradbury also spoke with media on Monday about the emotional roller coaster the team experienced.
He noted that so many games in the NFL can come down to the final play, and it was nice this time to be on the right side of it.
"It's crazy, the mood swing that changes when it goes your way or doesn't go your way," Bradbury said. "When it does go your way, there's obviously mistakes that need to be corrected, but you're like, 'You know what, we found a way to win.'
"That's why we're here; that's why we play the game; that's why we practice all week; so, it was mission accomplished," Bradbury added. "That was our goal, and so it's awesome. You celebrate it. Guys made some great plays. Justin Jefferson, I thought, played phenomenal. It's fun to celebrate those things."
Even though the Lions entered Week 5 winless, Bradbury said the Vikings expected a tougher game from the division rival that has now lost two games to walk-off field goals of more than 50 yards by opponents — an NFL first in one season.
"Whether it comes down to the last-second kick or whatever, finding a way to win was huge. It was huge for confidence moving forward and everyone says, 'That's why we're here, to win games,' " he said. "So we were 1-0 this past week. We've gotta take that same mentality and find a way to win this week."
Sunday's 19-17 victory over Detroit improved the Vikings record to 2-3 on the season, with a chance to reach .500 before the Week 7 bye. Minnesota is slated to play Carolina (3-2) on the road Sunday, and Zimmer understands the significance of coming home with that third win.
He said it would be a "good milestone" for the team after starting out 1-3 this year.
"There's, what, 11 games left after that. The season's a long process," Zimmer said. "I think the biggest thing is we keep trying to improve every week. If we can just continue to improve, we'll win our fair share of these games. So, it's all about improvement, keep going, staying with the process. Some of the players have talked to me about that. Just stick with the process, keep doing what we're doing and let's continue to get better at it."