Netflix’s ‘Quarterback’ Reveals Kirk Cousins Battled Through Rib Injury Throughout Season

Netflix's 'Quarterback' revealed that Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins suffered a brutal rib injury that contextualizes the 2022 season.

On the Netflix show “Quarterback,” which follows Kirk Cousins, Patrick Mahomes, and Marcus Mariota throughout the season, the Minnesota Vikings signal-caller the extent of his rib injuries over the course of the 2022 season.

Those injuries might provide context for Cousins’ most exciting — but perhaps least efficient — season with the Vikings.

Kirk Cousins Suffered a Rib Injury Against the Washington Commanders

Cousins suffered a bone-crunching hit from Daron Payne in the Vikings’ Week 9 matchup against the Washington Commanders. On that play, Washington blitzed the pocket and left star receiver Justin Jefferson in man coverage. Cousins heaved it to Jefferson, then hit the ground.

He stayed on the ground as the play progressed, ostensibly catching his breath. He insisted to other players and to the trainers who rushed onto the field that he just needed to catch his breath.

“I got the wind knocked out of me,” he insisted again and again on the field. When he learned that they didn’t score on the play, he chided himself for not getting up sooner. Instead, he had to take one play off before getting back on the field.

That was near the end of Episode 2 of the series, titled “Homecoming.”

The beginning of the third episode, titled “Kings of Pain,” features Cousins getting into a cold tub. He says that happens every Monday but mentioned his ribs specifically as a site where a bruise might form.

Cousins’ Rib Injury Persisted Throughout the Season

In the week leading up to the Buffalo game, Cousins expressed difficulty with his ribs. During a practice, he mentioned to Josh Hingst, then the Vikings’ director of player performance, “Oh, everything hurts” as he struggled through basic drills.

Cousins told Quarterback that rib pain is so totalizing that it becomes difficult to think about anything else, and they played a clip of a rare appearance of Cousins in the training room getting those ribs treated.

Vikings chief communications officer Jeff Anderson asked Cousins how he felt, and Cousins said, “I’m… going to be great. It will come down to how much I get hit. If I get hit a lot, it’s going to start to compound.”

Cousins would be hit nine times that game and led the league in quarterback hits taken over the course of the regular season (131).

“When we hit the long ball to Justin [Jefferson] in Washington, I don’t know who hit me. I don’t know where it came from. And the D-lineman said to me, ‘You’ll be alright,'” Cousins told Quarterback.

“And I was thinking to myself, ‘Usually I am, but on this one, I am not fine.'”

Cousins took some vicious hits against Buffalo, recalling one hit that was as bad as the one he experienced against the Commanders. He was so consumed with the pain that he had difficulty going over plays on the sideline or discussing what happened with teammates.

After a miraculous comeback, the Vikings and Cousins were faced with the prospect of winning the game in overtime. “The bruises on my ribs, in overtime, was when I started to really feel it,” he said.

By the end of the Vikings’ final drive, Cousins said he was done and “out of gas.” He couldn’t tell people he was OK and couldn’t celebrate with the team. It was clear that Cousins had difficulty breathing as the microphones picked up his grunts of pain over the course of the game.

Cousins’ Rib Injury Might Explain Some of His 2022 Performance

The Vikings would lose their subsequent game against Dallas in what was, unsurprisingly, Cousins’ worst performance of the season. He threw for 105 yards on 23 attempts, only completing 12 passes. He was sacked seven times and broke his touchdown streak of 38 games with no scores to his name.

As the season wore on, Cousins wore increasingly obvious forms of rib protection under his uniform. That rib protection grew in bulk over the season until the loss against the New York Giants in the playoffs. His pain throughout the season was evident.

He never showed up on a Vikings injury report in 2022. That’s in line with his history — he only appeared on an injury report once in 2021 after a late December Monday Night Football game against the Bears. He had injured his ribs.

Cousins rarely appears on injury reports and has never been considered Probable, Doubtful, or Out for a game, save for the contest against Green Bay he missed in 2020 due to COVID. Nevertheless, he got hurt and seemingly suffered the worst pain of his career in the wildly successful 2022 season.

After the playoff loss to the Giants, the Vikings quarterback drove home, dutifully helped bathe his boys, read them a bedtime story, and prayed with them until they slept. And then he recovered.

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