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Cousins Bounces Back as Passing Attack Lights Up Giants

Kirk Cousins had an eventful week, talking last Sunday's disappointing performance with Adam Thielen on his podcast Monday.

A few days later, another of his top target, Stefon Diggs, denied that he had requested a trade from the team.

But Cousins put all of the drama to rest with his performance Sunday in one of his best starts in Purple to help lead the Vikings to a much-needed 28-10 win over the Giants.

"Very similar to the week before that and the week before that and the week before that," Cousins said about his mindset in recent days. "I just don't read anything, I try to stay ignorant, so I just went about my business and knew we needed to have a better performance this week than we had last week."

Cousins completed 22 of 27 passes for 306 yards with a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions against New York, earning a passer rating of 138.6.

That mark is seventh-highest of his career in games that Cousins has started, and is the fifth-highest of the quarterback's career when he has attempted at least 25 passes.

Cousins also ended a streak of nine straight games without a 300-yard passing effort, which was the longest streak of his career.

Cousins started hot, completing his first four passes on the day as the Vikings kicked a field goal on their opening drives. He spread the ball around, however, including passes to Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs that went for 13-plus yards apiece, with both plays moving the chains.

Cousins then helped orchestrate an 11-play, 98-yard drive — perhaps the Vikings best possession of the season — on which the quarterback completed six of seven passes for 79 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown to Thielen.

I think, the 98-yard drive was very important throughout the early part of the game to not only flip the field but get points and keep that momentum going," Cousins said.

By the time halftime hit, Cousins had hit on 19 of 23 passes for 278 yards and a score. Entering Week 5, Cousins' highest passing total in a game this season was 233 yards.

The quarterback attempted just four passes in the second half, but completed three of them, including a 9-yard score to Thielen.

The Vikings Pro Bowl wide receiver finished with seven catches for 130 yards and two scores — his best game of 2019 to date.

Thielen said he had no question his quarterback was going to bounce back from a rough outing in Week 4 against the Bears.

"[Kirk] doesn't care what people say about us. He just works and grinds and want to be the best football player he can possibly be and he wants to help this team win games," Thielen said. "At the end of the day, that's why we're here — to help this team win games and do whatever the coaches ask us to do to help us win."

While Thielen was Cousins' main target Sunday, running back Dalvin Cook was involved with six catches for 86 yards.

Bisi Johnson added four receptions for 43 yards, and Diggs had three catches for 44 yards.

Diggs missed Wednesday's practice and said Thursday that, while frustrated, he had not requested a trade.

After Sunday's game, Diggs said once again that he is on board with the Vikings offense.

"You want to have success and you want to win," Diggs said. "We had an unbelievable win today and tried to dominate. Kirk played lights out.

"Our O-line did their best to play clean and we were moving the ball," Diggs added. "As far as having individual success, it's about team success. Do your part."

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer also had plenty of praise for Cousins, who had six completions of at least 20 yards against the Giants.

"I thought he got out of the pocket, he looked downfield for the shots, and when they weren't there, he checked them down," Zimmer said. "I thought our receivers made some good catches with Diggs and Thielen, the tight ends did some nice things, as well.

"But I think, just overall, the mix of the play-actions and the drop-backs were good," Zimmer added.

The Vikings relied on Cousins' arm to get a win Sunday and move to 3-2, and there's a chance they'll need it again in Week 6 at home against Philadelphia, as the Eagles have allowed just 315 total rushing yards in five games (63.0 yards per game).

Cousins was at his best Sunday, even after the wild week that was.

"My preparation was the exact same this week and last week. I have a rhythm, a routine, I've stuck with it for five years now as a starter, and I go about my business, go to work, I keep my head down," Cousins said. "And the results aren't always predictable, you don't know what's going to happen – when you play a really good defense, sometimes they get you.

"You come back to work, and you keep going. What you don't do is quit. You don't stop. You keep going," Cousins added. "That's what I'm going to do. This league will test you. It tests me every week. I'm glad we got a win this time."

Added Zimmer: "I thought he played really well. A 138 [passer] rating, I think is what it was, and he had some really nice throws, got the ball out, made good decisions. That's how we need him to play."