The Minnesota Vikings made a statement on Sunday that they will be a force to be reckoned with during the home stretch of the 2022 NFL season. Often forgotten in discussions of the best teams in the league, the Vikings stormed into Buffalo, New York, and took out a Bills team many consider to be the Super Bowl favorites, 33-30, in a thrilling overtime finish.
Minnesota is now 8-1, four and a half games ahead of Green Bay in the NFC North, and riding a seven-game winning streak. None of those wins have come by more than eight points.
Minnesota opened the scoring on Sunday with a 22-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins to star receiver Justin Jefferson in the first quarter. Yet by the closing minutes of the third quarter, the Vikings found themselves trailing, 27-10. Less than 20 seconds later, however, an 81-yard touchdown run by running back Dalvin Cook closed to the gap to 10 and the comeback was on.
A touchdown by fullback C.J. Ham cut the deficit to 27-23, but then the Vikings were stopped at the 1-yard line on fourth down with less than a minute to play and the game appeared to be all but over. Miraculously, Minnesota’s defense forced a fumble on the very next play and recovered in the end zone to take a 30-27 lead.
Buffalo quickly drove down the field and made a 29-yard field goal to force the game into overtime. Minnesota received the ball first, and Cousins led the team on a methodical drive that resulted in a field goal. On the ensuing possession, just as the Bills had entered the red zone, Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen threw an interception to end the wild game.
Still thinking about how crazy the ending of Vikings vs Bills waspic.twitter.com/BceEtpl5Ir
— Pickswise (@Pickswise) November 14, 2022
Cousins was one of a number of players who left Sunday’s game with an impressive stat line. Despite only tossing one touchdown and two interceptions, Cousins’ 357 passing yards were the most in the NFL in Week 10.
At the age of 34, Cousins’ stats thus far in 2022 have been unremarkable (14 touchdowns, eight interceptions and 2,356 yards), but far more important to him is the win-loss column. The 11-year veteran out of Michigan State has never won more than 10 games in a season, and with the Vikings now only two away from that mark with eight games to go, Cousins is poised to far exceed his previous best.
Cousins, however, won’t let himself think in those terms.
“It’s day-to-day, week-to-week, you’re only as good as your last play, your last game,” he said in Sunday’s postgame press conference. “You certainly want to stack up the wins, and we’ve been able to do that for the most part. Being battle-tested is I guess what you take from [the close wins], because you know come January you’re gonna need that. Having had that is, I think, the silver lining.”
Cousins’ steady leadership has been key for the Vikings’ success this season, as they’ve found themselves in numerous pressure-packed scenarios late in games. For Cousins, when there’s a break in the action, he seeks to stay calm with the game on the line by recalling God’s promises as revealed in the Bible.
“Just like anybody else going through something, you remind yourself of those scriptures that kind of bring truth and bring a sense of calm to what you’re doing,” he said in an October 2021 edition of the “Faith & Goal” podcast hosted by Vikings radio announcer Paul Allen. “… Certainly, my mind goes to my faith and trusting the Lord and just kind of believing that He’ll have a plan in whatever happens.”
A couple years ago, Cousins resolved to fill his mind more clearly with passages of Scripture by reading the Bible from cover to cover. It took him over a year he said, but once he finished, he started right back at the beginning to do it again.
“It’s been a very productive exercise,” he said on the podcast, “just reading a little bit every day. I just believe that God’s Word is exactly that: It’s the Word of God and I treat it as the playbook for life. You know, we have a playbook on the football field as sort of our lifeline to our success on the field. And I believe that God’s Word is a lifeline to my success in life and to my ability to relate well to others and for life to work well as a husband, as a parent, as a friend.
“The Word of God is such a foundational component to my life, so for it to be that, I’ve got to be in it. I’ve got to be reading it. I’ve got to be studying it. I’ve got to be talking about it. I’ve got to be learning about it. It’s just a big part of my life.”
One of the many Bible verses Cousins has picked up along the way and references in his Twitter and Instagram bios is Micah 6:8: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” He’s involved himself with organizations like International Justice Mission and been known to mention his Christian faith on social media.
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“I want to be someone who doesn’t just talk the talk but walks the walk,” Cousins said on the podcast. “I’m certainly going to be imperfect in my walk, but 1 John 2:6 says (paraphrased), ‘Those who claim to be in Him, those who claim to be in Jesus, must walk as He walked.’ And so I want my walk to look like that of Jesus. And while I’ll fall short every day, it’s a great goal and one that I’m going to strive after as long as I’m living.”
Cousins will seek to stay grounded and walk the walk of faith, even as unprecedented success comes his way on the field in 2022. Up next for the Vikings in their quest to keep their winning streak alive is a showdown with the Dallas Cowboys (6-3) at home on Sunday. The game is set for 4:25 p.m. ET.
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