Then the QB zipped the lips of those chuckling cynics with a flawless second-half comeback, leading to the 27-23 victory.
"(Cousins) played fantastic, probably the best game he's played since he's been here," coach Mike Zimmer beamed Monday, via the team's official website.
After throwing for 58 yards and an 86.8 passer rating with a fumble in the first two quarters, Cousins dive-bombed the Denver defense. The QB generated 261 yards with three touchdowns, zero turnovers and a 153.5 second-half passer rating.
Cousins is in the midst of a career-best run. He hasn't thrown an INT in 163 pass attempts, the longest streak in the NFL. Since Week 5, he's thrown 18 TDs to just one INT (first among 33 qualified passers) while averaging 288.7 yards per game and a 126.5 passer rating, tops in the league. Over that span, the Vikings have gone 6-1. Oh, and Cousins has done this mostly sans his favorite receiver, Adam Thielen.
The stretch has mostly silenced the doubters. Cousins has won on the road in prime time. He's won games at home he's supposed to win. And he's brought his team back from a blowout to victory.
The narratives about Cousins' failures are being suffocated by each passing game.
"I don't worry too much about the narrative," Zimmer said. "I don't care what they think or say. I just want him to keep playing the way he is."
There will still be hurdles to climb, doubters to silence, and stumbling blocks along the way as the Vikings sit poised to row in the playoffs.
For now, Cousins has earned praise and taken a big step toward proving the Vikings right for handing him that massive contract.
"I think he deserves a pat on the back. As a quarterback, our quarterback, he led us (Sunday), and he leads us every game. He's playing very well."