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Kirk Cousins lined up under the right guard, who does not snap the ball

Cousins lined up under the wrong lineman during the biggest moment of Vikings vs. 49ers.

Kirk Cousins often seems like one of the NFL’s better quarterbacks on-paper. Cousins has consistently put up impressive numbers since signing a huge contract with the Minnesota Vikings ahead of the 2018 season, but he only has one playoff appearance to show for it. Even when Cousins is good, he has a reputation for failing in big moments. He’s not going to shake that distinction after the way the Vikings lost to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12 on Sunday.

Cousins is currently in the middle of one of his best seasons yet, entering the game against San Francisco with 21 touchdowns and only two interceptions. The Vikings were still only 5-5 and needed a win against a 49ers team also on the bubble of the NFC playoff picture.

The Niners and Vikings each traded points during an explosive second half. With San Francisco leading by eight points at the start of the fourth quarter, Cousins led the Vikings on a 12-play, 72-yard drive to give his team the chance to tie the game. Everything was going great for Minnesota on the drive until they got to the goal line, and that’s when it all fell apart.

After two short runs by Alexander Mattison, Cousins threw an incomplete pass intended for tight end Tyler Conklin on third down. The Vikings chose to go for it on fourth down. For some reason, Cousins decided to line up under right guard Oli Udoh instead of his center. The Vikings had to burn a timeout.

4th and goal. Kirk Cousins lines up under his guard. pic.twitter.com/pSLh2YFdAb

— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dieter) November 29, 2021

Cousins missed his star receiver Justin Jefferson on the next play to turn the ball over on downs. The 49ers got the ball and marched down the field for a long drive that chewed up more than seven minutes on the clock. Even though the Niners missed a field goal to end the drive, Minnesota didn’t have much time to work with. Their comeback bid ended when they turned it over on downs on the next drive.

Cousins ended the game with solid numbers once again, finishing 20-of-32 passing for 238 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. It’s the plays he didn’t make that stand out after the loss, though.

Cousins drew the ire of Jefferson multiple times during the game, including once when he missed him on a two-point conversion in the third quarter. He simply missed several makeable throws with the game on the line.

Kirk Cousins had 7 off-target passes vs. San Francisco with two of them coming on crucial 4th down attempts in the 4th quarter for the highest off-target rate he has had in a game this season (22%). @ESPNStatsInfo

— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) November 29, 2021

The Vikings have bigger problems than Cousins, of course. The defensive line has been depleted by injuries. Star running back Dalvin Cook was ruled out with a shoulder injury. The Minnesota defense has given up the third most yards per game in the league, and they’ve been getting gashed by the run in particular all season.

Cousins is still a solid QB to be sure, but given his massive cap number it’s fair to think he leaves a team wanting a little more. At the very least he could line up under center on the biggest play of the game. It doesn’t seem like much to ask.

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