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NOTEBOOK: Cousins Says Taking Ownership & Communicating Help Move on from Mistakes

EAGAN, Minn. — Kirk Cousins will be the first one to tell you he needs to play better than he did in Sunday’s loss to Chicago.

The Vikings quarterback did just that Wednesday, explaining to Twin Cities media that although he threw for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns, he was irked by a pair of interceptions.

Cousins’ first pick came when the Vikings were in Chicago territory looking for a score at the end of the first half. And his second was a costly pick-six that helped the Bears pad their lead with a defensive score.

“Well, you need to learn from them,” Cousins said. “You need to talk about them, be coached, hear your coaches’ thoughts and talk to your teammates about it, take ownership for it, and then move on with that gained experience.

“And that’s the way it is with every game and with every setback or failure that you have, and this past week is no different,” Cousins added. “I’d like to think I’ll be a better quarterback come this Sunday and the rest of the season.”

Cousins has completed 289 of 409 passes (70.7 percent) for 2,947 yards with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has a season-long passer rating of 99.3.

Sunday’s game was Cousins’ only multi-interception game of the season. He is on pace for 11 total picks this season, but Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday that he attributes that to Cousins being in his first year in Purple and still getting to learn the intricacies of his teammates.

“Honestly, I think most of the time it has been some time of miscommunication that’s happened, so it’s just getting guys on the same page,” Zimmer said. “I’m not disappointed in Kirk whatsoever.

“Miscommunication happens, and that usually leads to bad things,” Zimmer added. “We just have to clean up some of those details and make sure everybody was on the right page.”

Cousins will have a chance for a better performance at home on Sunday Night Football against the Packers.

The quarterback fared well in his first taste of the rivalry, a Week 2 tie in which the quarterback passed for 425 yards (the second-most in franchise history against Green Bay) and four touchdowns to help lead a late rally.

Cousins was on fire in the fourth quarter and overtime in that September matchup, throwing for 220 yards and three touchdowns in the final 25 minutes of game time against Green Bay.

The quarterback said he’s hoping for the similar success, including limiting the turnovers, on Sunday in the 117th Border Battle between the two teams.

“Well, one was a two-minute drill with drop-back passing and certainly no run game to speak of there because you’re trying to get down there as quickly as you can,” Cousins said of that Week 2 rally. “There was success in that. There was an explosive play on a play-action deep throw.

“Obviously, explosive plays are very important to offensive success, and that was one of the biggest, most-glaring issues with Sunday night, was that we didn’t have any explosive plays and when we did have completions, they really weren’t more than 9 or 10 yards. That made it hard to sustain drives, as well,” Cousins added. “We certainly are going to look for those explosive plays when they’re there and move the football any way we can. I do think we got aggressive in the fourth quarter and overtime of that game and it worked in that game, but the Packers are going to look at that same film, and I’m sure they’re going to have some adjustments to their plan.”

Looking for a boost

The Vikings are coming off one of their worst rushing performances of the season, as Minnesota tallied just 22 yards on 14 carries.

Dalvin Cook had 12 yards on nine carries, and Latavius Murray had five yards on four attempts. Cousins had one scramble for five yards.

Minnesota gained two yards or less on 10 of its 14 total carries, as that stat includes six runs that went for no gain or were negative plays.

Murray said the Vikings need to be more efficient running the ball in every aspect so that Minnesota can grab a lead and stick with the run game rather than airing it out and trying to play catch up.

“I think that’s a combination of everybody doing their job,” Murray said. “And if we’re able to do that and we’re able to stay on schedule, then [Vikings Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo] will feel a lot more comfortable calling some more runs.

“We need to get more called, but I feel that he’ll feel a lot more comfortable [calling them]. And also the flow of the game, if we don’t beat ourselves in some other situations and not have to play from behind, as well, he’ll feel a lot more comfortable calling them,” Murray added. “So again, I think it’s a combination of some things on the reason why we’re not being able to do what we really want to do.”

Zimmer mentioned the negative runs against the Bears in his Wednesday press conference and said a way to balance out those plays would be to head toward the sideline a bit.

“Yeah, well we got cut off. A guy beat us inside on two of those runs,” Zimmer said. “I think, really at the end of the day, you have to be able to change up where you’re not just going forward, you got to go to the perimeter some.”

The Vikings currently rank 31st in the NFL with 84.7 yards per game. Green Bay’s defense ranks 26th with 126.1 rushing yards allowed per game.

Smith, Hunter tops in Pro Bowl voting

Harrison Smith is on track to earn his fourth straight Pro Bowl nod, while Danielle Hunter could earn the accolade for the first time of his career.

As of Wednesday, the Vikings All-Pro safety leads all players at his position in Pro Bowl voting with 57,938 total votes. Smith is tied for the team high with three interceptions and has 3.0 sacks in 2018.

Hunter is the top vote-getter in the NFC with 149,946 votes. The fourth-year defensive end ranks second in the NFL with 11.5 sacks and is one off his career high.

A handful of other Vikings are in the top 10 in overall Pro Bowl votes around the league.

Adam Thielen has the third-highest votes among all wide receivers while Xavier Rhodes is sixth overall among cornerbacks. C.J. Ham is eighth among fullbacks, and Pat Elflein is ninth overall among all centers.

Fans can vote online at NFL.com/ProBowlVote until Dec. 13. During the final two weeks of Pro Bowl voting, which is from Nov. 29 through Dec. 13 – fans can also vote on Twitter using #ProBowlVote along with a player’s first and last name, the player’s official Twitter handle, or a hashtag including the player’s first and last name.

Museum getting Mossed

Randy Moss’ Hall of Fame bust has made its way from Canton, Ohio, to the Vikings Museum. The bust will be on display Friday and Saturday at the Vikings Museum, which opened in July.

Moss, a 2018 enshrinee, will receive his Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence, during halftime of Sunday’s game.

Injury reports

For the Vikings: David Morgan (knee), Andrew Sendejo (groin), Ben Gedeon (concussion) and Stephen Weatherly (not injury related/shoulder) did not participate. Adam Thielen (calf/low back), Mike Remmers (low back), Tom Compton (knee) and Chad Beebe (hamstring) were limited. Xavier Rhodes (foot), Danny Isidora (knee), Everson Griffen (toe) and Anthony Barr (hamstring) were full participants.

For the Packers: Bashaud Breeland (groin), Mike Daniels (foot), Jimmy Graham (thumb), Raven Greene (ankle), Kevin King (hamstring), Lucas Patrick (concussion) and Nick Perry (knee) did not participate. Kentrell Brice (ankle) and Randall Cobb (hamstring) were limited. Aaron Rodgers (knee) was a full participant.

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