The New England Patriots under Bill Belichick are known for taking away their opponent’s top weapons and daring the rest of the offense to beat them. They did so again on Sunday, keeping Vikings star wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs relatively quiet in a 24-10 Patriots victory.
Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins knew New England would try to take away his favorite targets. Thielen scored the team’s lone touchdown but finished with five receptions for just 28 yards, while Diggs did not reach his usual heights with five catches for 49 yards.
“We had a feeling they were going to be able to do that or try to do that and they did for the most part,” Cousins told reporters postgame.
Cousins pointed out that the Vikings still had opportunities for big plays despite the double coverage both receivers faced. Early in the third quarter, Thielen eluded both McCourty twins and came inches away from a fantastic diving catch.
“We almost came down with it but it was an incompletion and that was a situation where they were trying to double him and he’s still able to have the chance for an explosive play there,” Cousins said. “We felt that going into the game, as much as they may try to take them away, that there would still be opportunities there as well as opportunities to Rudy [Kyle Rudolph] and our backs and Aldrick [Robinson] and Laquon [Treadwell] and there certainly were at times.
“But other times, we just didn’t as an offense find a way to get it done.”
The 30-year-old credited the Patriots defense, which had two sacks and two interceptions, with doing a good job of disguising their coverage pre-snap. He noted they rotated between bluffing Cover-0 and bringing Cover-0.
The Vikings offense were visibly frustrated on another third-quarter drive when two Cousins tosses into the end zone looked like they might draw pass interference penalties. The officials’ whistles remained silent.
“Well it all happened so fast that it’s hard to know what’s interference or not in the moment,” the quarterback said. “I went over to the ref and just asked him, ‘Why wasn’t there a pass interference? Can you help me understand what took place?’
“It would seem that they were unable to get to the football, but he explained what he thought happened and why it wasn’t, and I said okay and we moved on. But certainly those were plays that when they fall incomplete, it’s tough to have to settle for three.”
Cousins and the 6-5-1 Vikings face the Seattle Seahawks next week.