Cousins’ D.C. homecoming ends with a ‘You like that!’ and Vikings win originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
LANDOVER, Md. — Five seasons after leaving Washington in free agency, Kirk Cousins returned to FedEx Field on Sunday for the first time as a visitor. The Minnesota Vikings quarterback, who spent the first six years of his career with the Burgundy and Gold, left with a comeback victory over his former team, too.
Cousins wasn’t going to leave the stadium without hearing his signature phrase, either. Nearly seven years after leading Washington to a comeback win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (and delivering the most notable three words of his career), Cousins was showered with ‘You like that!’ chants from Vikings’ faithful as he walked into the visitor’s tunnel.
That was not the first or last time the ‘You like that!’ chant was said at FedExField on Sunday. Commanders fans screamed it for much of the second half when Cousins and the Vikings’ offense were struggling. But, of course, it was the quarterback who had the last laugh.
Kirk taking a victory lap pic.twitter.com/YEvR2yWB75
— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) November 6, 2022
Cousins’ individual performance was up and down throughout the afternoon. He was perfect on the team’s first drive, completing all five of his pass attempts, four of which went to star wideout Justin Jefferson. But Minnesota’s offense struggled for much of the game before taking advantage of Washington’s mistakes in the final quarter.
The Vikings quarterback finished 22-of-40 for 265 yards, two touchdowns and one interception (and nearly a second). But most importantly for Minnesota, Cousins helped the club erase a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit en route to their sixth straight win.
When Cousins made it back to Minnesota’s locker room following the game, head coach Kevin O’Connell asked him to break the team down. What the quarterback said next was predictable.
“It was the first thing that came to mind,” a smiling Cousins said postgame. “The team was calling for that one a little bit. … I guess those three words will follow me for the rest of my career and maybe my life.”
Earlier this week, Cousins downplayed the emotions of facing his former team. Instead, he chose to reminisce on the six seasons he spent with Washington. Postgame, he echoed many of the same sentiments.
“I had a lot of warm emotions and a lot of gratitude for the fact that I got to play here, that I had the privilege of being here for six years,” Cousins said, adding he didn’t feel this game meant more than others.
“So much time has passed. Five years, so much change,” he later added. “To win on the road and to find a way means a lot. A special win, a hard-fought game. … I just have so many positive memories of being here and what it meant for my football career but also for my life.”
O’Connell – who spent three years in Washington as an assistant coach, overlapping one year with Cousins – downplayed the importance of Cousins’ return to D.C., too. The Vikings’ head coach did go out of his way to mention just how excited Cousins’ teammates were for him following the game.
“You can just feel what this guy means to his teammates, this organization,” O’Connell said. “And as a first-year coach, to have him as our quarterback, I feel very confident and feel lucky to have Kirk as our guy because he’s playing at a really high level and overcoming some circumstances that, quite honestly, we’re learning a lot about him and I feel great about where he’s at right now.”
Cousins said he felt the emotions of returning to his former stadium when the team busses arrived and he saw the Commanders’ player parking lot, the same place he used to park his car before games for six seasons. That moment reminded him of how his time in Washington shaped his football career and his evolution from a fourth-round backup to one of the league’s better passers.
So, even if Sunday’s game did mean more for Cousins than many others, the quarterback did his best to hide it.
“Just so grateful I got the chance to play here and play for the coaches I did,” he said. “They believed in me before I believed in myself.”