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Next-Day Stats: Intermediate Passes Golden for Vikings Against Packers

EAGAN, Minn. — Kirk Cousins equaled his best passer rating of 2021 (matching 128.4 against Seattle) on Sunday against Green Bay.

The Minnesota quarterback completed 24 of 35 passes for 341 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Cousins now has put together three games this season with more than 300 yards, three scores and no interceptions.

The performance earned Cousins a FedEx Air Player of the Week nomination. Vote for him here between now and 2 p.m. (CT) Wednesday.

Cousins capitalized with an aggressiveness on one end of Justin Jefferson's monster day and helped Adam Thielen move up the franchise receptions leaderboard.

Here's a deeper dive at some "next-day stats" with an eye on the ever-increasing number of Next Gen Stats. References to rankings across the league include all Week 11 games except for tonight's game between the Giants and Buccaneers.

1. Maximizing success on intermediate passes

NFL.com's Kevin Patra recapped the Border Battle and included a "Next Gen stat of the game" that pointed to just how locked-in Cousins was on intermediate passes, which are defined as throws of 10-19 air yards.

Patra wrote that Cousins was 7-for-7 with 165 yards and a touchdown on intermediate passes for "his most such completions without an incompletion in a game in the Next Gen Stats era. He has a 79.4 completion percentage and a 148.2 passer rating on such passes this season, both of which are on pace to set single-season records in the NGS era among qualified QBs."

Cousins also was a combined 16-for-20 with 120 yards and two touchdowns on passes up to 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. He found less success on the deep throws, going 1-for-7, but the 56-yard completion he recorded set up Minnesota's first touchdown of the game. Another deep heave resulted in a 37-yard pass interference penalty.

The aggressiveness set a tone and opened up short and intermediate opportunities. It also helped that Thielen broke up a pass a Green Bay defender had a beat on, and Jefferson had just enough contact with Darnell Savage on a ball the safety couldn't control as he hit the turf.

Cousins' average intended air yards of 11.0 ranked third in the NFL in Week 11, along with the positive differential of completion percentage above expectation. According to Next Gen Stats, Cousins was expected to complete 58.7 percent of his passes, but he finished at a rate of 68.6 (plus-9.9 points).

2. Improbable completions

The 122nd iteration of the Border Battle included a solid job by Minnesota in the first half against Aaron Rodgers and an ineffective performance in the second half.

The Green Bay QB was limited to 13 of 22 passes for 188 yards and one score in the first half for a passer rating of 102.1. Those numbers for a half are nothing to sneeze at, but they're within reason when facing a reigning NFL MVP.

The second half, however, Rodgers completed 10 of 11 passes for 197 yards and threw touchdowns to cap all three Packers possessions after halftime. He finished with an astronomical passer rating of 148.4.

According to Next Gen stats, Rodgers recorded three of the 13 least likely completions in Week 11.

His 75-yard touchdown pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a completion probability of 24 percent (fourth lowest in NFL).

A 39-yard pass to Valdes-Scantling that converted a third-and-12 in the second quarter had a completion probability of 31.7 percent (12th lowest), and a 25-yard touchdown to tight end Josiah Deguara had a probability of 31.9 percent (13th).

Cousins also got in on the improbable completion party. His 21-yard completion to Jefferson late in the third quarter had a probability of 33.9 percent (17th in NFL).

3. Travelers

The game also accounted for four of the 15 longest plays in Week 11.

Valdes-Scantling ran 84.9 total yards on his 75-yard touchdown for the second-longest play of Week 11 and topped out at 22.09 miles per hour, the fastest speed recorded by a ball carrier in 2021.

Davante Adams traveled 63.8 yards on his 37-yard reception on the first play of the game. It was ranked 11th.

Jefferson ranked 13th (63.7 yards on his 43-yard reception) and 15th (61 yards on his 56-yard reception) with big plays in the first quarter.

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