3 Questions with… Kirk Cousins

Over the past five seasons, there has been only one quarterback in the NFL who has thrown more than 25 touchdown passes in each campaign and that is Kirk Cousins, of the Minnesota Vikings. The perennial Pro Bowler is coming off a career year and will be intent on leading another playoff charge in Minneapolis in 2020.

Let's talk about that big comeback win you had against Tampa Bay while in Washington in 2015. It will lead me to ask a question I'm sure you've been asked many times. In fact, I've asked you several times over the years in various shows we have done together. How many times do you think you've been asked about 'You like that!?'

It was a funny moment. It was a crazy game. We were down 24-0 and we ended up winning 31-30 and in the excitement and thrill of the moment, I came back through the tunnel in our stadium to walk into the locker room. I pointed at a local person in the media and just said, 'You like that!?' It was just a lot of emotion and passion. I had no idea there was a camera there that was recording. I had no idea it was going to go out on the internet. When I got done with the media and all the things I had to do at the end of that game, I went out into the parking lot to meet my family and they had already seen it on the internet and were asking me about it. Here we are now five years later and we're still talking about it – that was quite a moment that was completely unplanned.

Tell me about life in the NFL as a starting quarterback and dealing with critics. I know you're hard on yourself so how do you balance that need to get better with not being too hard on yourself?

I'm getting better at that and giving myself more grace. I understand I'm going to have my ups and downs. I used to say that nobody who criticises me is going to be harder on me than I'm going to be. Whatever they write about me not being good at this or that, you'd better believe I'm already pushing myself to get past those hurdles long before anyone else is. You continue to mature as a player and you learn the best ways to view yourself, your play and your struggles. I'm in a good place in terms of my confidence, my belief and my desire to play this 2020 season. It's a little bit of both when it comes to criticism. It's healthy to shut it out and to know the people who matter are my teammates and my coaches. I don't need another voice to help me and I shouldn't need it. But we live in a fishbowl and it's difficult to go about your day to day and not be influenced by any narratives on the outside. When you do encounter one, you have to be mature enough to handle it and, if possible, you use it to help make you a better player and not get worse. It's something I continue to get better at and I'm in a really good place now.

There has been quite a lot levelled about your play in big games. But at the end of the 2019 season you went into the Superdome in the playoffs and you knocked off the New Orleans Saints. How did that feel when that stadium fell silent?

That was a unique feeling because that was the loudest game I have ever played in, even going back to college when I played in front of 110,000 people at a couple of stadiums. With the Superdome in a playoff game, I now know why it has been so difficult to win there. Communication was as difficult as it had ever been for me on a football field. I couldn't believe how well our defense played to limit a great Saints offense and that gave us a chance to stay in the game. Adam Thielen made a great catch to get us down there in overtime and Kyle Rudolph made an unbelievable catch to win the game. It's pretty easy to say that is the biggest victory of my career so far. Now we've got to get back to the playoffs and we've got to win more once we get there. We took a step winning a playoff game in a tough atmosphere last year, but you don't line up just to get to the playoffs, you want to get all the way to the finish and win the Super Bowl. That's our objective. We have a long way to go to get there but we raised the bar last season.

For Neil's full interview with Kirk Cousins check out The Neil Reynolds Podcast. The episode is streaming now wherever you get your podcasts.

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