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Vikings Veteran Was 'Shocked' By Kirk Cousins 4th Down Decision

Kirk Cousins of the Vikings plays on the field.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - JANUARY 15: Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings is seen during the first quarter against the New York Giants in the NFC Wild Card playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 15, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

To many in attendance and watching at hone, Kirk Cousins' decision to check down on 4th-and-8 on the final drive of Sunday's playoff loss to the Giants was a curious one.

It wasn't just outside observers who thought that either. Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson admitted on the newest episode of his "All Things Covered" podcast that what Cousins did "shocked" him. 

So much so, in fact, that Peterson thought briefly that the veteran quarterback must have lost track of downs. 

“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, 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.”

To be fair, Peterson didn't completely shred Cousins, going on to give him some credit for how he played overall against the Giants and all season in general.

“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.”

Minnesota was trailing the Giants 31-24 when it faced 4th-and-8 from its own 44-yard line with 1:44 remaining in Sunday's Wild Card matchup.

Perhaps Cousins could have forced the ball to star wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who was double covered on the play down the right side. 

Or maybe if he held onto the ball a split-second longer--New York defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence was collapsing the pocket--Cousins could have hit K.J. Osborn on an in-breaking route on the left side of the field. 

Instead, Cousins threw underneath to tight end T.J. Hockenson, who caught the ball five yards short of the sticks and was quickly tackled by Giants safety Xavier McKinney to wrap up a Big Blue win.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner had a more in-depth breakdown of the fateful play, which you can find here.