Big money Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has a crisp preseason debut with his new team

If you wanted to know, in a very brief glimpse, why the Minnesota Vikings backed up the truck and paid quarterback Kirk Cousins, he showed it on one throw Saturday night.

Cousins made a play-action fake, looked off the safety and while Stefon Diggs was getting free from Denver Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby, Cousins threw in anticipation of where Diggs would be. When Diggs turned to track the ball, it was already on him. Diggs made a nice catch for 28 yards inside the 5-yard line. Cousins finished the drive with a touchdown throw to Diggs. It was a beautiful throw from a veteran NFL quarterback.

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The Vikings gave Cousins a historic three-year, $84 million deal this offseason. All of it was guaranteed. Nobody will remember how Cousins did in a meaningless preseason game. But he did look good.

Kirk Cousins completes all four passes in his first Vikings preseason work

Cousins has a lot of weight on his shoulders, as he was paid a huge contract to get the Vikings to their first Super Bowl. All the reports from Vikings camp have been positive, and he was sharp against the Broncos.

Cousins completed his first pass, a short one to Diggs, and didn’t miss on his only drive. Cousins was 4-of-4 for 42 yards and a touchdown in his only series of action. The long pass to Diggs down the sideline was his best of the night. He knew where to go with the ball, showed a good amount of chemistry with a new teammate he has been with for only a few months, and delivered it with good accuracy.

Whatever Cousins did on Saturday night doesn’t matter much in the big picture, but it was a reminder that he’s a very good quarterback.

Case Keenum misfires on a couple passes in his debut

Coincidentally, the Vikings opened up the preseason against their quarterback from last season. Case Keenum didn’t have the same kind of instant splash for his new team that Cousins did.

Keenum misfired on a couple passes, had one dropped on third down by rookie running back Royce Freeman (though it was a checkdown and would have been well short of the first down), and finished his night with a pair of three-and-outs. He was 1-of-4 for 5 yards before being relieved by former first-round pick Paxton Lynch, who was immediately picked off on his first series.

Just like Cousins looking good doesn’t mean too much, neither does Keenum failing to do much in two possessions. He’s coming off a big year with the Vikings and should be fine with the Broncos.

Cousins will be under intense scrutiny all season

When the Vikings basically swapped Keenum for Cousins, by not re-signing Keenum before free agency, they created an interesting story line for this season.

The Vikings made the NFC championship game last season and most teams don’t like to make major changes after a successful season, often because they don’t want to face criticism if it goes wrong. The safe play was to stick with Keenum. But they clearly thought Cousins was much better than Keenum, and paid Cousins handsomely.

It was only a few preseason throws, but the Vikings had to be pleased with what they saw from Cousins on Saturday night.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins had a positive preseason debut with his new team. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!