Addison Arrives; Cousins Balls Out; Defense Steps Up: Vikings Save Season vs 49ers

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Entering the day at 2-4, the Minnesota Vikings needed a win vs the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football in order to save their 2023-24 season (and the roster as it currently exists). And up against all odds, as a touchdown underdog at home, Kirk Cousins balled out, Jordan Addison arrived on the scene and the defense forced three takeaways, in a primetime Vikings 22-17 victory.

Minnesota Vikings defense helps save season

You may have thought Minnesota needed to play perfect football, if they were going to beat possibly the best team in the NFC, in front of the entire nation. But the Vikings were far from that on Monday night, starting with yet another turnover on their first drive of the game.

This time, it was via interception that Charvarius Ward wrestled away from Jordan Addison to immediately flip momentum in the Niners favor. But, in what ended up being foreshadowing for what would happen most of the night, the mistake did not come back to bite the Vikings.

On the ensuing San Francisco drive, the defense forced a Christian McCaffrey fumble and the purple proceeded to score the next (and first) 10 points of the game.

Touchdowns? Who needs them? The Vikings settled for field goals all night, including multiple from deep territory where the analytics probably said that keeping the offense on the field and going for the 1st down would have been the better option.

Kevin O’Connell’s offense was also forced to kick two field goals from inside the redzone, one from inside the 5-yard line. But again, unlike what we are used to seeing as Vikings fans, the mistakes never really came back to bite them. When needed, the defense made plays, including three interceptions and big stop, after big stop, throughout the contest.

Kirk Cousins balls out

It’s time to stop doubting Kirk Cousins. He proved, yet again on Monday night, that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now. With Justin Jefferson watching from the sideline, Kirk Cousins lit the star in Jordan Addison, who finished the contest with 7 catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns. The rookie wide receiver now sits second league-wide in TD receptions (6), behind only Tyreek Hill (7).

Tight end, TJ Hockenson found his hands too, hauling in 11 catches for 86 yards of his own. But, Addison and Hockenson both sat out of this game for about a quarter apiece. When they weren’t available, Kirk found Brandon Powell (4 receptions, 64 yards) or KJ Osborn (5 receptions, 47 yards).

In other words, it didn’t matter who his receivers were. If you were eligible to catch a pass and wearing purple on Monday night at U.S. Bank Stadium, Kirk Cousins was going to find you.

When the dust finally settled and Minnesota walked away with a victory, Cousins finished 35 of 45 (78%) for 378 yards and 2 touchdowns. Some of his throws were ridiculous. Some of his readings and mind games with the defense were next level. But some plays were just downright elite.

Related: Vikings Have No Plans to Trade Kirk Cousins but Continue to Take Calls on Others

Like this one, late in the 4th quarter on 3rd down… where he ducks underneath what looked like a sure sack and arose out of the collapsed pocket with a beautiful, feathery touch pass right into the arms of Jordan Addison for a drive, and possibly game-saving, 1st down.

We can argue semantics — like what Kirk may or may not have done, in the past; who he once was or was not, both with Washington and since arriving in Minnesota — but… if you are paying attention right now, up through week 8 in the 2023-24 season, one thing should be clear: Kirk Cousins is playing like a top-5 quarterback and he is the most important player to success this year.

Here come the Vikings…

Suddenly, the Minnesota Vikings are 3-4 and charging up the rankings in the NFC North. Kwesi’s trade deadline plans seem to be on hold. As Kevin Garnett kind of once said, anything (seems) possible…

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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