by Mike Marek
Sunday was a day of reckoning for Kirk Cousins. He entered the game a beaten man. Expectations were low coming off a brutal loss to the Chicago Bears. Fans had lost hope in his skill set. A parody song was written about him not being able to step up when it counted the most. Things didn’t look great for Mr. Cousins. Even his trusted tandem of wide receivers both rebelled in their own way leading up to the game.
Thielen called out Cousins after the game to the media. Stefon Diggs took a couple unscheduled days off. Kirk publicly apologized to Thielen on his podcast. Diggs was back at practice on Thursday after taking some time to clear his head. I’m assuming that Zimmer called Diggs up and got him back in line — plus a $200,000 fine is enough to get anyone to turn their head. From Kirk’s perspective, having your two-best pass-catchers and an entire state upset with you is an easy way to have a rough week.
Regardless of your thoughts on how things turned out on Sunday, and the events that led up to the emphatic victory of the Giants, you can’t deny that the Vikings looked to be back to their winning ways. The main reason for their win? Low expectations.
When expectations are low, the Vikings and Kirk Cousins thrive. When the spotlight is on and expectations are high, be ready to be disappointed. As long as the opponent isn’t too good or the game too important you can count on the Vikings to win. What we saw on Sunday was a perfect example of low expectations.
The Vikings dominated the New York Football Giants for all four quarters of the game by playing Zimmer ball. Cousins threw more than I expected in the contest, but the thumbprints of a Zimmer victory were all over this one. The Vikings finished soundly winning the clock battle, they dominated the Giants defensively, and they utilized the running game to perfection. In my mind, this game was never really in doubt, moving the Vikings to an NFC competitive 3-2.
The question in most Vikings fans minds at this point is, what comes next? The answer, a lot of winnable games for a quarterback and coach whom tend to beat up on also-rans and play well at home. The next three games are against the Eagles, Lions, and Redskins. They get both the Eagles and the Redskins at home and visit a Detroit Lions team that in my opinion is full of smoke and mirrors. I would not be surprised if they emerge from this stretch 3-0 and take back control of the NFC North, leading to a scary scenario just in time for Halloween.
A mid-season win streak will only do something we all should dread at this point. It will build expectations. If history repeats itself, the old nightmares will come back. Kirk and Zimmer will have a chance to face their old demons all over again and will more than likely come up short. Unless, they don’t, which would be a positive return of karma for multiple decades worth of suffering and disappointment.