Confident Cousins leads Vikings into Detroit

Kirk Cousins has kept his top targets satisfied in the past two games. He'll return to his home state of Michigan on Sunday trying to keep his teammates happy and the Detroit Lions frustrated.

The former Michigan State quarterback tossed six touchdown passes and connected on 78.6 percent of his throws to lead the Minnesota Vikings to wins over the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.

Against the Giants, he fed the ball to Adam Thielen, who had caught just two passes for 6 yards the previous game at Chicago. Thielen racked up 130 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions.

Stefon Diggs, upset at his role in the offense, was fined $200,000 last week for unexcused absences from practices and meetings. He then lit up the Eagles for 167 yards and three scores on seven catches.

"He's doing a really good job with his decision-making," Lions coach Matt Patricia said of Cousins. "He's really trying to get the ball to his go-to players."

Cousins took some heat after the Vikings got off to a 2-2 start. His last two outings have quieted the critics.

"It was helpful to get a rhythm going there the last couple of weeks," he said. "When the season starts, you're kind of learning what you are and what works well, and you're figuring that out early in the year.

"It was a confidence boost the last couple of weeks, to have games where we felt like we found a little bit of an identity in addition to our running game. Hopefully we can keep that going, but you start from zero every week."

The Vikings (4-2) trail Green Bay by a game in the NFC North standings. They are seeking their first division win after losing to the Packers and Bears on the road.

"When you play in the division, obviously it's very important," Cousins said. "Then when you go on the road, you'd love to be able to steal one."

Many fans felt the Lions (2-2-1) had a game stolen from them in Green Bay on Monday night by questionable officiating calls. They led virtually from start to finish but wound up with a 23-22 loss on a last-second Mason Crosby field goal.

That was aided by the second of two controversial hands-to-the-face penalties on defensive lineman Trey Flowers, which NFL vice president of operations Troy Vincent said was incorrect. A questionable pass interference non-call also hindered the Lions in the second half.

Patricia has tried to downplay the controversy publicly and with his players.

"We don't make excuses," he said. "We understand we've got to win. And the bottom line is in order to win in this league or to win convincingly or at a high level, it's up to the coaches and the players."

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford hit some long pass plays in the early going but cooled off in the second half. He didn't have a scoring pass while completing 56.3 percent of his throws.

Stafford has thrown nine touchdown passes and been picked off just twice this season.

The Lions didn't have much success against Minnesota's defense last season. They were outscored by a combined 51-18 in those defeats. The Vikings have won the last three meetings.

Defensive tackle Mike Daniels (foot) and cornerback Amani Oruwariye (knee) were the only Lions who missed practice on Wednesday. Defensive back Quandre Diggs (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis and could return after missing the last two games.

Offensive tackle Riley Reiff (ankle) and linebacker Ben Gedeon (concussion) are the main question marks for the Vikings after missing Wednesday's practice.

--Field Level Media