Kirk Cousins Reveals What Went Through His Mind on Justin Jefferson’s 4th-and-18 Catch

On Netflix’s 'Quarterback,' Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins recalled Justin Jefferson’s amazing 4th-and-18 catch against the Buffalo Bills.

The Minnesota Vikings orchestrated a tremendous comeback against the heavily favored Buffalo Bills when on the road, in part because of one of the greatest catches NFL fans have ever seen from Justin Jefferson.

On the Netflix show “Quarterback,” which follows three quarterbacks through the 2022 NFL season, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins went over what went through his mind when Jefferson snagged his pass on a crucial 4th and 18.

The Minnesota Vikings Were Mounting a Comeback Against the Buffalo Bills

The Vikings were down by four points and had 1:47 left in the fourth quarter with only one timeout remaining. That drive began with 3:26 remaining, and the Vikings had only generated one first down by then — first, a five-yard pass to K.J. Osborn, followed by a six-yard pass to Adam Thielen.

After that, Cousins was sacked twice — once by Boogie Basham and another time by Von Miller. In between those plays, he threw an incomplete pass to T.J. Hockenson with pressure bearing down.

That set up the 4th and 18.

Kirk Cousins Walks Through the 4th-and-18 Play

After hearing the play in his headset, Cousins called it in the huddle, “Twerk and pearls here with a dagger. OK. Gotta throw this pylon-up, probably. Gotta launch the pylon.”

After Cousins dropped back to pass, all five eligible receivers broke out into routes, meaning Cousins had only the five linemen in protection. The Bills appeared to drop into a deep Cover 2 with a high linebacker in the hole, like in Tampa 2 coverage. On the backside of the play, Osborn ran a deep in-breaking route while Dalvin Cook settled in the flat after chipping Von Miller.

On the front side, Thielen ran a curl route as the outside receiver. Hockenson ran a route from the inside slot to bring the Cover 2 corner down, while Justin Jefferson ran a corner route from the outside slot between Thielen and Hockenson.

Cousins overthrew it, and Bills nickel corner Cam Lewis had a bead on the ball. Lewis timed it perfectly, positioned himself where he needed to be, and zeroed in on the ball with his hands. Jefferson was out of position and had to back up, extending one arm to get half a hand on the ball.

He caught it.

Kirk Cousins Reveals What Was Going Through His Head During Justin Jefferson’s Catch

On the field, Cousins started jogging towards the new line of scrimmage and muttered in understated tones, “He got it. He caught it. He caught it.”

As Jefferson moved back to the huddle, Cousins praised him quickly with “Great catch, JJ” before calling in the next play. It was all surprisingly perfunctory.

Cousins told Quarterback, which was produced by Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions and Patrick Mahomes’ 2PM Productions, “I threw it, but couldn’t really make sense of what was happening. So I was judging what happened based of our sideline’s reaction,” he said. “I will never forget seeing Eric Kendricks making it clear that we caught that ball. That’s kind of when I knew.”

The Vikings quarterback had to manage seeing the spectacular and knowing that there was more to do. Cousins prides himself on in-game emotional regulation, and that was a big part of his process. “We didn’t get any points on that play, so we needed to go score,” he said. “There’s a bit of a ‘What’s important now, what’s next?’ mentality that you have that sort of prevents you from being able to enjoy those moments at times.”

It helps that Cousins and the Vikings have come to understand spectacular plays from Jefferson as fairly routine affairs. “There’s a lot of trust there that, even in tight coverage, when you put the ball out there in tight coverage, he’ll make the play,” Cousins said of Jefferson.

Minnesota would drive down the field to get to the 6-yard line. Cousins threw a pass to Jefferson for a touchdown, but the officials reversed the play, ruling that the ball hadn’t crossed the plane. On the next play, 4th and 1, Cousins threw incomplete to Dalvin Cook. The officials once again reversed the play, assessing a penalty on the Bills for defensive offsides.

With 50 seconds left, Cousins called his own number and devised a quarterback sneak that failed. Netflix’s Quarterback revealed that Cousins had called the play on his own and missed that head coach Kevin O’Connell wanted a timeout.

“It was my fault that … you know, I called the QB sneak. We didn’t get in,” said Cousins. “And so I’m kind of having to process, you know, a pretty critical error there.”

The game would have been over after that turnover on downs had the Bills not fumbled the exchange on the next play, with Kendricks recovering the ball in the end zone. After that score, the Bills rallied to tie the game with a field goal and forced overtime.

The Vikings ended up winning in one of the best comebacks of the 2022 NFL season.

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