As the Minnesota Vikings play in prime time against the San Francisco 49ers tonight, what is Kirk Cousins’ record in these national spotlight games? Let’s examine how teams led by Cousins have fared in prime time and how he’s performed individually during those games.
Kirk Cousins’ Prime-Time Win-Loss Record Is Ugly
Heading into this Monday Night Football game against the 49ers, teams with Cousins starting at QB have an 11-19 record in prime time. The Kirk Cousins prime-time game narrative has gone from a tepid whisper to a loud drumbeat echoing around the NFL.
Likewise, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is 10-18 in prime-time games, while New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is 0-9 in such games after the Week 1 loss to the Cowboys.
The narrative around the Vikings’ signal-caller is that he’s a good quarterback but isn’t great, and he will never reach the heights of the greats. The “unclutch” gene has been attached to Cousins, and with every prime-time loss, the narrative intensifies.
The only way for the Minnesota QB to change the narrative is to win football games in prime time — against the best teams in the NFL. Monday night provides a perfect opportunity.
Cousins’ Stat Line in Prime-Time Games Is Somewhat More Flattering Than His Win-Loss Record
Judging a quarterback based solely on wins and losses is an extremely unfair thing to do, and Cousins’ prime-time record exemplifies that. Among the 64 quarterbacks to have thrown more than 500 pass attempts in prime time since the merger, Cousins has the 12th-best passer rating in those games.
The only active players to have a better passer rating are Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, and Dak Prescott.
In his 30 career prime-time starts, Cousins has a 66.8% completion rate, which is fourth best behind only Drew Brees, Allen, and Rodgers. The rest of his numbers read: 7,884 passing yards, 53 touchdowns, and 27 interceptions.
Cousins is 2-10 on Monday Night Football prime-time games. The Vikings’ franchise quarterback’s MNF splits are 2,875 passing yards with 17 touchdowns to 11 interceptions for a QB rating of 85.2.
If we narrow it down to just Thursday Night Football prime-time games, Cousins’ numbers are eerily similar. His passer rating drops to 87.2, ranking him 14th among the 28 QBs to have thrown 150 pass attempts on TNF since the merger.
Cousins still completes his passes at a high rate (67.0%) but has a touchdown-to-interception ratio slightly better than 1:1. In his eight Thursday prime-time starts, Cousins has thrown 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Only four qualifying QBs have thrown at least 12 interceptions on a Thursday: Brees, Cousins, Jay Cutler, and Matt Ryan.
Against Philly in Week 2, Cousins went 31 of 43 for 364 yards and tossed an astonishing four touchdowns against an Eagles defense that, one season ago, played for the Super Bowl title. Cousins got seven different Vikings wideouts involved with the offense.