Running back Dalvin Cook left the Vikings’ 28-27 victory over Carolina in the third quarter on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium because of an ankle injury but he was able to return. After being stripped of the ball by Jeremy Chinn, Cook stayed on the turf as the Panthers safety returned the turnover 28 yards for a touchdown.
Cook was assisted to the sideline by Vikings head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman and another member of the training staff. Cook was examined in the injury tent before emerging and doing some running in front of Sugarman. Cook returned to the game with just over three minutes left in the third quarter.
“He wanted to go back in the ball game,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “It’s a credit to him; he wants to be out there with his teammates, and he’s able to get going a little bit. It was a hard day to run the football today.”
Cook entered Sunday second in the NFL with 1,069 rushing yards in nine games, trailing Tennessee’s Derrick Henry (1,079 yards in 10 games). Cook finished with 61 rushing yards on 18 carries and four catches for 21 yards. Cook’s rushing total was his second-lowest of the season. He had 50 yards on 12 carries in a season-opening loss to Green Bay.
Cook has now lost two fumbles in the past two games and has lost three of his four fumbles this season. He also had four fumbles last season, but the three lost are a career high.
Cook had 41 yards on 13 carries when he was injured. He added 20 yards on five rushing attempts after his return.
Chinn’s score gave Carolina a 21-10 lead and marked the second consecutive play from scrimmage on which he had scored. On the Vikings’ previous series, Chinn had returned a Kirk Cousins fumble 17 yards for a touchdown.