Broadcast cameras caught the testy conversation at the end of the first half of the Vikings’ 24-10 season-ending setback to the NFC North champions on Sunday at U,S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. It came after the two players miscommunicated on a route, resulting in a Cousins incompletion on a 3rd-and-5 play from the Bears’ 27-yard-line.
Cousins waited for Thielen to walk his way on the Vikings’ sideline before getting in his ear. Thielen then pulled off his helmet and mouthed a response to the quarterback. Stefon Diggs later joined the conversation, before Cousins showed an example of route running the Thielen.
The exchange ended with Cousins patting Thielen on the back.
Thielen made his second Pro Bowl this season and had 113 catches for 1,373 yards and nine scores in 16 starts this season. Cousins posted a career-best 70.1 completion percentage, 30 touchdowns and 1.7 interception percentage.
“Number one, it wasn’t between Kirk and I,” Thielen told reporters after the game, when asked about the disagreement. “It was a little frustration on myself for not getting open, maybe, and a little frustration with not getting opportunities.”
“But it definitely wasn’t anything with Kirk, and it actually turned out to be a really good conversation. We talked a lot about what I could have done better, and on what we could have done in the second half to exploit their defense. It was a good conversation.”
Cousins told reporters that the exchange wasn’t due to Thielen running a wrong route.
“Well, we were just — it was kind of a deal of just trying to be on the same page with the route as to what he was doing,” Cousins said. “And obviously I’m trying to throw it in anticipation and trying to read his body language before he breaks, and just talking about how to make sure that we’re able to come away with the right play there. ”
Cousins, 30, joined the Vikings this offseason in free agency by signing a three-year, $84 million contract. Thielen, 28, signed a three-year, $17 million pact with the Vikings in 2017.