Patrick Peterson details 'shocked' reaction to Kirk Cousins' 4th-down pass originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The final pass of Kirk Cousins' season left many bewildered -- including one of his teammates.
Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson said he thought Cousins didn't know what down it was after seeing the quarterback throw well short of the sticks to seal Minnesota's playoff loss to the New York Giants.
“Going into that final play, when I saw it, the only thing I could think about, I was like, ‘He must have didn’t know what down it was,'” Peterson said on his podcast "All Things Covered", via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I haven’t heard his explanation about it as of yet. But on the sideline it just took me back because I was just shocked that we threw the ball three yards when we needed eight.”
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On a fourth-and-8 with under two minutes remaining, Cousins threw a three-yard pass to T.J. Hockenson. But the tight end couldn't even turn around with the ball before he was wrapped up and taken to the ground by safety Xavier McKinney.
So why did Cousins make that pass?
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"I saw single-high [coverage] and tried to work Justin [Jefferson] and didn't feel good about putting it up to Justin. And when I went to progress, I just felt like I was about to get sacked," Cousins said postgame, via NFL.com. "I felt I had to put the ball in play. I couldn't go down with a sack.
"So I just kicked it out to T.J., and I had thrown short of the sticks on a few occasions in the game and going back a few weeks. I just felt like throwing short of the sticks isn't the end of the world, and it was obviously tight coverage. But I felt like I was going to go down and take a sack and put it out."
Cousins has received criticism for not passing the ball to superstar receiver Justin Jefferson, who was double-teamed, or wideout K.J. Osborn, who became open after the quarterback had already locked in on Hockenson.
But as Cousins mentioned, he wasn't operating from a completely clean pocket, as defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence was closing in for a sack.
While he questioned the final decision, Peterson did offer praise for Cousins' overall play both in the playoff game and throughout the season.
“I really don’t know what went into that, how that decision came about, him throwing the ball that short,” Peterson said. “But as far as his overall performance in that game, I thought he played solid. I thought he was one of the top 10 quarterbacks all year long. He’s a guy that you can win with, for sure.”
The 31-24 home loss to the No. 6 Giants marked a disappointing end to Minnesota's season. The Vikings entered the playoffs as the NFC's No. 3 seed following a 13-4 regular season.