On 4th-and-8 with the season on the line, the objective is pretty simple: Get to the sticks.
The Vikings didn’t really give themselves a chance to do that.
Kirk Cousins is often criticized for his inability to come up with big plays in big moments, but he had a big opportunity in the final minutes Sunday. Down 31-24 with 1L44 left, the Vikings had a 4th and 8 just past midfield.
In just about every case, the play design calls for the quarterback to throw to someone who is past the first down marker. If they don’t do that, then they better be sure that whoever they are throwing to has enough room to gain the necessary yardage.
But for reasons not totally clear, Cousins threw to T.J. Hockenson well short of the first down. The tight end was quickly wrapped up near the sidelines, and after gaining a grand total of three yards on the play, the Vikings turned it over on downs.
Now, credit where it’s due. Xavier McKinney did a fine job locking down Hockenson, who had been fantastic all day. Thanks in part to McKinney’s coverage and solo tackle, the play had zero chance of succeeding.
Still, Cousins and the Vikings were roundly criticized for how the key down unfolded.
With the win, the Giants will go on to face the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round of the playoffs.
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