One Kirk Cousins throw must have Vikings salivatingAugust 12, 2018
DENVER — The $84 million man threw to the $81 million man, and it looked just as Minnesota envisioned.
Kirk Cousins, the free-agent splash of the offseason, was perfect in his cameo, including a gorgeous, tight-windowed 28-yard completion to Stefon Diggs, in the Vikings’ 42-28 preseason win over the Broncos on Saturday.
Cousins completed all four of his passes, which included a 1-yard touchdown to Diggs on a quick slant, but the dart to the newly well-paid wide receiver was the most encouraging play.
“It’s just Kirk being Kirk,” Diggs told reporters about their first-quarter connection. “He’s a good quarterback making some great throws. I’m just trying to do my job to the best of my ability. He gave me a great ball and I’ve got to make the play. That’s all.”
“I think it was a smooth first drive but it is a small sample size and the next couple of weeks will be a good test for us,” said Cousins, who then kicked back and watched two former Broncos quarterbacks tear apart their old teammates.
Case Keenum wasn’t nearly as sharp in his Denver debut, completing just 1-of-4 passes for 5 yards spanning two drives.
“It’s just frustrating not playing well and you don’t have a chance to bounce back from it,” Keenum said.
Cousins was the crown jewel of this year’s free-agent class of quarterbacks, signing an $84 million, three-year deal in Minneapolis. That meant Keenum was out two months after leading the Vikings to the NFC championship, and he signed a $36 million, two-year deal with Denver.
The Broncos then traded their starter, Trevor Siemian, to the Vikings to serve as Cousins’ backup — so long as he beats out Kyle Sloter, another former Denver QB.
That left Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly vying for No. 2 duty in Denver.
So, this preseason opener was filled with quarterback intrigue.
After Cousins’ single series — one in which he didn’t have to face Von Miller — Siemian led Minnesota on three scoring drives, most notably a screen pass to Roc Thomas that beat the blitz for a 78-yard score.
Siemian was 11-of-17 for 165 yards, two TDs and an interception against his old team.
“It was a little weird for sure, but good to see old buddies,” Siemian said.
Lynch, the former first-rounder twice beaten out by Siemian in Denver, was just 6 of 11 for 24 yards and an interception.
“Obviously I’m upset,” he said.
Despite 17 yards passing overall in the first half, the Broncos only trailed 24-14 at halftime thanks to Isaiah McKenzie’s 78-yard punt return for a TD and rookie Royce Freeman’s 23-yard TD scamper — Denver’s only first down before halftime.
Just when the crowd was starting to lament losing Siemian and Sloter, in came Kelly to fire up the crowd.
Kelly threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matt LaCosse. Amid chants of “Kelly! Kelly!” he also drove Denver 85 yards in 11 plays, capping the drive with a 19-yard strike to running back Phillip Lindsay to put the Broncos on top 28-27 with 10 minutes remaining.