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Vikings’ 3-1 start has quarterback Kirk Cousins in an especially good mood

The Vikings are 3-1 for the first time since he took over as quarterback in 2018, and the franchise is off to its best start since going 4-0 in 2016 (and later 5-0).

NFL: International Series-Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins throws a pass in the second half of the team's 28-25 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, Oct. 2, in London.
Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Thanks to a rookie linebacker, the world got a peek at a side of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins not often seen.

Brian Asamoah, a third-round draft pick from Oklahoma, put up a TikTok video showing Cousins on the long flight home from London after last Sunday’s 28-25 win over the New Orleans Saints. He was shown trying on left tackle Christian Darrisaw’s glitzy chain and laughing while spinning a diamond-encrusted disk on it that has the initials “C.D.”

“I wore his chain for a little bit,” Cousins said Wednesday during a news conference in which he often was lighthearted. “(Cornerback) Kris Boyd put that on me, and we had fun with that.”

So is Cousins thinking about perhaps getting a chain like that for himself?

“It’s tempting,” he said. “I had never actually put a chain on, so that was my first experience of what that feels like. Honestly, it was very empowering. It felt pretty good to have that chain on. … Certainly an offseason project, potentially.”

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Cousins_Kirk mug.jpg
Kirk Cousins

Cousins, who on Wednesday also joked about Darrisaw “sawing logs” while sleeping on the flight to London, usually comes off as more reserved. But running back Dalvin Cook said that’s not how Cousins often is around his teammates.

“That’s Kirk,” Cook said of the video. “That’s what you get behind the scenes because you all don’t get behind the scenes a lot.”

Nevertheless, if Cousins has been in an even more carefree mood than usual this week, perhaps that’s not a surprise. The Vikings are 3-1 for the first time since he took over as quarterback in 2018, and the franchise is off to its best start since going 4-0 in 2016 (and later 5-0). Taking it a step further, Cousins, who played for Washington from 2012-17, never before has been on an NFL team that had better than a 2-2 record after four games.

But while winning certainly has lifted his spirits, let it be known that Cousins remains far from satisfied with Minnesota’s play. Cousins has a passer rating of 84.1, which is well below last season’s 103.1, and the Vikings are a pedestrian 17th in the NFL in total offense entering Sunday’s game against Chicago at U.S. Bank Stadium.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins hands the ball to running back Dalvin Cook against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 11, 2022, at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Jeffrey Becker / USA Today Sports

“There’s plays we’re leaving out there,” Cousins said. “You’re always going to feel that to some extent, but I do feel we need to tighten the screws down a little bit on some of our execution.”

Against the Saints, Cousins completed 25 of 38 passes for 273 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Play in the red zone was an issue, with the Vikings getting two touchdowns but also settling for three field goals on five trips inside the 20.

“You got to be locked on all these details so that we do come away with seven (points) because in this league, when you kick a lot of field goals, you tend to get beat,” Cousins said. “And when you score a lot of touchdowns in the red zone, you tend to find a way to win.”

Though the Vikings settled for five Greg Joseph field goals, they still found a way to win. Cousins led them on a touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter that gave them a 25-22 lead and then on another drive that led to a 47-yard field goal by Joseph for a 28-25 lead with 24 seconds left.

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Cousins has taken plenty of heat in his career for being a .500 quarterback, but with a 3-1 start he has at least upped his record to 62-60-2 as a starter. And the Vikings, when tiebreakers are considered, have the second-best record in the NFC. So there has been reason for him to be in a good mood.

“We definitely had some fun on the plane” coming home, tight end Irv Smith Jr. said. “Kirk had on C.D.’s chain. It’s spins a little bit, and it’s got a big ‘C.D.’ on it. A lot of diamonds on it. It was cool. Just having fun with the team.”

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