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Kirk Cousins: 'I kind of get tormented either way'

The Vikings quarterback believes self-critiquing has been the key to his longevity and stress in the NFL.
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Completing 35-of-45 passes for 378 yards against the stout 49ers on Monday Night Football changed the national narrative about Kirk Cousins, with the likes of Skip Bayless and Troy Aikman changing their tune about the Vikings quarterback. But as the national spotlight follows him, Cousins was disappointed that he wasn't better. 

Speaking Wednesday, Cousins admitted that he was upset that his 60-yard touchdown pass wasn't better located so Jordan Addison didn't have to rip the ball from Charvarius Ward and save Cousins from a second interception. 

"I hate watching plays that go our way, but I felt like we were fortunate. Because I don't feel like we were good enough, if you will. I watch it and say, 'We got away with one.' I don't even like celebrating. It's a weird dynamic where I'm like, we need to feel like we executed the play and earned it, and certainly Jordan did in the sense that he made a play, but from my standpoint and what I can control, I'm saying I gotta be better, I gotta have a better feel for where to lead him," Cousins said. 

"Got away with one. You obviously have had a few that you haven't gotten away with where you kind of paid the price the other way where the ball bounces the other way. It always balances out, but there is some level of, you know, you gotta be better and we got away with one. I don't love living like that for too long because I don't feel like it's sustainable, I feel like you have to ultimately earn it."

The 60-yard touchdown was probably the biggest play in Minnesota's 22-17 win over the 49ers, who were favored by 7 points despite being on the road in Minneapolis. 

Kirk Cousins

An overhead view of Kirk Cousins on the Minnesota Vikings logo at U.S. Bank Stadium. 

But as Cousins mentioned, he's been unlucky plenty of times. He mentioned the final play against the Chargers when his pass was tipped by tight end T.J. Hockenson and then a defender before being intercepted in the end zone. Cousins getting the ball punched out of his hands by a pulling right guard Ed Ingram is another one he could point to, or the Bucs intercepting him at the goal line in the season opener when the ball could've just as easily been caught for a touchdown by K.J. Osborn. 

"I don't sleep too well. I kind of get tormented either way," Cousins laughed. 

But it's that constant activity in his brain -- did he do the right thing or not -- that he believes is the key to his longevity in the league.

"I think that self-critique is why I"m still standing here talking you guys in Year 12 at 35 years old. I also think it's why sometimes you feel like this game's a grind, because you're never really just going out there and shrugging your shoulders and playing careless. You're playing with so much care that you're always evaluating and critiquing, so that's kind of the balance I'm trying to find – I'll always trying to find – is how do you push yourself to be a better quarterback, which keeps you in this league and playing well. And then how do you still enjoy it, and just kind of go have fun and go play," he said. 

Through seven weeks, Cousins leads the NFL in completions (193), attempts (280), and touchdowns passes (16). He's second in passing yards (2,057) and is on pace to finish the season with 4,995 yards and 39 touchdown passes.