Vikings suffer massive blow before big showdown

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is heading to the reserve/COVID-19 list, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Friday. He will not be able to play on Sunday. 

The Vikings are scheduled to play at the Green Bay Packers on “Sunday Night Football.” Minnesota (7-8) needs a win to keep its playoff hopes alive.

Cousins is unvaccinated and unable to return before the game. Backup quarterback Sean Mannion would typically step up, but was put on the reserve/COVID-19 on Sunday. If he’s not activated on Saturday, the team will turn to Kellen Mond or Kyle Sloter, per Chad Graff of The Athletic. 

Cousins’ unvaccinated status always a concern 

Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins has entered health and safety protocols at a time when the Vikings need a win to stay in playoff contention. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Cousins missed practices in August due to being a high-risk close contact and said at the time he was “at peace” with his decision not to be vaccinated. He told reporters he considered surrounding himself with plexiglass in the quarterback room to protect himself. When asked why not go ahead and receive the vaccine, which would be far more effective, he said it was a “personal and private” decision. 

There was concern he would lose his ability to lead because of his unwillingness to be vaccinated and his hometown hospital cut ties with him over his stance

The biggest concern for any unvaccinated NFL player was always they would miss time when needed most, which is the case for Cousins here. Not only are the Vikings without their first-string quarterback, they could be down to a rookie in Mond or a player who was signed to the roster this week. Since it’s Friday, neither of these players have taken the first-string snaps in preparation for Green Bay. 

Vikings playoff implications

The Packers have already cinched the NFC North division with a 12-3 record, the best in the NFC. A win over the Vikings and a Cowboys loss to the Cardinals would clinch that spot. The Packers have not lost at Lambeau Field this season. 

The Vikings are currently the first out of the seven-team playoff picture after they lost to the Los Angeles Rams last week. They needed to win out to keep their spot, and now fall behind wild cards Arizona (10-5), which has clinched, San Francisco (8-7) and Philadelphia (8-7). 

The Vikings close the regular season at home against the Bears.