Cousins threw three interceptions in the first 30 minutes of a 40-23 loss to the previously winless Atlanta Falcons. He added three touchdowns in the second half after the Vikings (1-5) were getting shut out 23-0. He was 24-of-36 for 343 passing yards.
It was the first win of the season for the Falcons (1-5), who fired coach Dan Quinn after their Week 5 loss. Raheem Morris took over as interim coach. Matt Ryan was 30-of-40 for 371 yards and four touchdowns.
Kirk Cousins throws 3 INTs in first half
Cousins’ bad day started on the first play of the game when he tried to hit Justin Jefferson in the middle of the field. Instead, Falcons linebacker Deion Jones read the play and intercepted his first pass of the season.
The Falcons scored on the ensuing five-play drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones, his first touchdown of the year.
The Vikings went three-and-out on their next two possessions. After recovering a Falcons fumble, the offense drove 74 yards but failed to convert a fourth-and-goal on the 1-yard line.
Cousins threw interceptions four plays into each of the next two Vikings drives. The Falcons scored 10 points off of them.
He now leads the league in picks with 10, overtaking Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. Wentz came into Week 6 with nine.
Vikings offense struggles early against Falcons
The three interceptions and zero touchdowns were the first for a quarterback in a half this season, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
It was an extra sour note for Cousins against a Falcons defense that had been routinely victimized by quarterbacks. They came into the game giving up an average of 335.8 passing yards per game.
Kirk Cousins is the first player with 0 Pass TD & 3 interceptions in a half this season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 18, 2020
Entering today, the Falcons had allowed the highest Total QBR (81.8) in the NFL, 15 Pass TD to just 2 Int, and had not held an opponent scoreless in the first half.
The Falcons lead 20-0. pic.twitter.com/0kdTJlmaPQ
Cousins signed a $66 million contract extension in March, a full year before his three-year deal was to expire. He bounced back in the second half Sunday with three touchdowns, his team already trailing 23-0 minutes into the third quarter.
Cousins: I won’t continue as QB on that pace
Cousins addressed the issue after the game and said if his pace continues, “I won’t finish the season.”
Cousins (con't): "That’s what the rest of the season will be about for me, is trying to protect the football as best I can. Because when you turn the ball over, it really hurts your chances to win. I know that. I just need to improve as we look ahead to the rest of the season.”— Andrew Krammer (@Andrew_Krammer) October 18, 2020
“The reality is, if the pace I’m on in terms of the interceptions, if that were to continue, I won’t finish the season. ... There’s a little bit of, you got to improve. Whether it’s them telling me, ‘Hey we gotta improve,’ or them pulling me; we got to get better,’” Cousins said, via Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“That’s what the rest of the season will be about for me, is trying to protect the football as best I can. Because when you turn the ball over, it really hurts your chances to win. I know that. I just need to improve as we look ahead to the rest of the season.”
Coach Mike Zimmer said after the game that certain results, such as that initial interception by Cousins, were “strange,” per Krammer. But he didn’t think about benching the quarterback, he said.
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