Vikings coach Mike Zimmer isn’t known as a guy who’s always heaping praise on his quarterback..
At halftime of the season opener in Cincinnati, for instance, Zimmer mentioned to a network sideline reporter that Kirk Cousins was holding the ball too long.
After Sunday’s 30-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, Zimmer was effusive in his praise of Cousins.
“I think he’s playing outstanding,” the coach said. “Not only that, he’s playing with a lot of confidence. I really appreciate his leadership he’s been doing lately. It’s been so much better. (It’s) something he wanted to work on this offseason. He’s done a great job with that.”
Zimmer wasn’t done praising Cousins.
“He’s always been very accurate,” Zimmer said. “He’s been in the offense a while. He sees things a little bit more clearly. Defensively, (the Seahawks had) some changeups in there, but he saw those really well. (On) the blitz, he threw to K.J. Osborn (on third down) It was an outstanding play because he was going to get rocked, and he knew it. He made a great, accurate throw to K.J.”
Cousins always has been known for being accurate, but he needs time, which is something his offensive line gave him Sunday. He was sacked just once by the Seahawks while leading the Vikings on six scoring drives and keeping possessions alive with clutch throws.
With star running back Dalvin Cook sidelined with an ankle injury suffered last week in Arizona, Cousins stepped up into that leadership role against Seattle.
“I try to be the same guy,” Cousins said. “Be consistent. Always building relationships. I assert myself when it’s good to do that.”
Cousins certainly asserted himself after the Seahawks’ opening drive concluded with a touchdown. He responded with a seven-play, 70-yard drive highlighted by hitting all five of his passes for 62 yards, finished off by a 7-yard touchdown throw to Tyler Conklin.
“It was great to start fast offensively,” Cousins said. “A lot of players stepped up and made plays.”
Cousins has played well in all three games this season. Even in the losses in Cincinnati and Arizona, it wasn’t his fault the Vikings (1-2) lost.
He was driving them to a potential game-winning field goal attempt against the Bengals when Cook fumbled the ball away.
In Arizona, he put the Vikings in position to win the game but Greg Joseph missed his attempt at a game-winning field goal as time expired.
In Sunday’s game, Cousins completed 30 of 38 passes for 323 yards and had touchdowns to Conklin, Adam Thielen (15 yards) and Justin Jefferson (3 yards).
Over the Vikings’ three games, Cousins is averaging more than 300 yards a game with eight touchdown passes and no interceptions.
“He has just no fear,” Thielen said of Cousins. “He’s not worried about anything other than going out there and doing his job.”