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Vikings lose ‘heart and soul’ as torn achilles ends QB Cousins’s season

Kirk Cousins has a torn right achilles tendon that will end his season, the Minnesota Vikings announced on Monday, news that puts a somber tone on their three-game winning streak.

The Vikings announced that the MRI exam on Cousins confirmed their initial fear of a tear after the 12th-year quarterback went down in pain in the fourth quarter at Green Bay on Sunday after planting his foot in the grass to try to avoid a sack. He limped off the field, unable to put weight on his right leg.

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Rookie Jaren Hall took over from there, as the Vikings (4-4) held on to beat the Packers 24-10 and climb above the cut for the playoffs after an 0-3 start. Staying there will be far more challenging without Cousins, who has never missed an NFL game due to injury.

Cousins will have surgery on a to-be-determined date, the Vikings said. No recovery timetable was announced, but it’s typically at least a six-month process for returning to full strength. New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers has raised the possibility of returning yet this season from his torn achilles tendon. But he was hurt in the opening game of the season, and is nearly two months ahead of Cousins on rehab.

Cousins, who is on track to be a free agent next spring, has gone to great lengths to keep himself as healthy as possible during his career.

The 35-year-old’s appearance on the Netflix documentary Quarterback endeared him to a broader audience with the up-close look at his willingness to take punishing hits for his team.

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Cousins was an afterthought recruit at Michigan State and a fourth-round draft pick in 2012, before he became the full-time starter with Washington in his fourth season and signed an unprecedented fully guaranteed contract with Minnesota in 2018 after he hit the open market.

Cousins has had his well-publicized share of ups and downs, with only one career win in a playoff game, but even in his mid 30s, he’s continued to hold his own as a passer in coach Kevin O’Connell’s complicated system. His completion rate (69.5%) is the third best of his career and fifth in the league in 2023. He’s tied for the NFL lead in touchdown passes (18), is second in passing yards (2,331) and third in passer rating (103.8).

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Over the three games since superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson was sidelined by a hamstring injury, Cousins went 79 for 107 (73.8%) for 833 yards and five touchdowns with four sacks and two turnovers.

“It breaks my heart. That guy is the leader of the team. He’s the heart and soul of the team,” Hall said.