Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins busted out an old catchphrase to celebrate what’s likely the start of a new outlook on his career. Following Minnesota’s surprise 26-20 win over New Orleans, Cousins ended his postgame locker room speech on Saturday with an energetic, “You like that!” Naturally, his teammates were more than excited to hear the phrase.
It’s been over four years since the first time Cousins proudly shouted that line at a group of reporters after he led the Redskins to their largest comeback in franchise history in a 31-30 win over the Buccaneers.
His emotions were more than understandable at the time. Cousins’s first season as a starter ended with a 4-12 record in Washington, and he was very close to entering the 2015 Bye Week with a dismal 2-5 record. Instead, he and the Redskins erased a 24-point deficit to steal the win, so to say there was a sense of relief afterwards would be a bit of an understatement.
Cousins would later claim six of nine victories — including a four-game win streak — to make the playoffs, erasing doubts of his incompetency at the position.
While the reality of his situation might be different from back then—he’s gone from being a young upstart trying to make a name for himself to being a well-paid starter—it’s no surprise that his emotions might be at a level similar to that of 2015. Sure, Cousins got his three-year, $84 million contract as a sign that the Vikings believe in him to some degree, but that hasn’t stopped people from doubting his abilities. The mere mention of the guy’s name invites a reminder of his dismal record on Monday Night Football, and his vanishing act in other big games.
But there’s hope that the narrative changed on Saturday. Not only was he an active participant in his team’s victory, he outplayed one of the greatest quarterbacks ever in Drew Brees. Throwing the game-winning touchdown to Kyle Rudolph in overtime capped off a Cousins’ clutch performance.
While the one-game sample size might not be enough to silence all of the haters, it should be enough to get them to at least quiet down.
The chances of a repeat performance in the Divisional Round aren’t great. The 49ers are over the Vikings, and with good reason: San Francisco is the top seed in the conference. But Cousins has already made his point — he can perform in big games when it matters most, and his teammates like that. Everything else is just gravy.