GREEN BAY — The Vikings trailed the Packers 21-0 early in the second quarter Sunday at Lambeau Field, when Kirk Cousins handed off to Dalvin Cook. The third-year running back did the rest, taking off for a 75-yard touchdown run in which he left Packers safety Darnell Savage grabbing at air around midfield.
Cook was far from done. He finished the Vikings’ 21-16 loss with a career-high 154 yards on 20 carries, giving him an average of 7.7 yards per rush. He also caught three passes for 37 yards and fought Packers defenders for extra yards. This came a week after Cook rushed for 111 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns against the Falcons in a Week 1 victory.
This is why so many said that Cook’s ability to stay healthy and remain on the field is so important to the Vikings’ success. Cook played in only four games as a rookie before suffering an ACL injury that ended his season. He missed five games last season because of a hamstring issue. But when Cook is healthy and running at full strength he’s one of the best running backs in the league.
“The line gave me a crease on the back side, and I just hit it with all I had,” Cook said of his touchdown run. “It was just one of those plays where I was close to being hit a couple of times, but I took full advantage of it.”
COOKED ‘EM! pic.twitter.com/10KP179e5T
— SKOR North (@SKORNorth) September 15, 2019
A “SELFISH” PLAY
The Vikings pulled within 21-16 in the third quarter on Cousins’ 45-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs but the wide receiver then was assessed a 15-yard penalty when he took off his helmet immediately after the score and appeared to say something to the Packers fans sitting behind the end zone.
“The penalty after the touchdown (was) just selfish,” coach Mike Zimmer said.
It also ended up being costly as the Packers elected to have the yardage marked off on Dan Bailey’s extra-point attempt. That meant it came from the 30-yard line. Sure enough, the kick was blocked by Green Bay’s Tony Brown.
Bailey also had a 47-yard field-goal attempt sail wide left on the Vikings’ first possession in the opening quarter after Green Bay had scored a touchdown on its opening drive. Bailey did hit a 31-yard attempt later in the game.
BLAME IT ON RODGERS
The Packers were leading 21-7 late in the second quarter when Aaron Rodgers pass to Geronimo Allison went for no gain. That set up a chance for a field goal that could have put the Packers up 24-7. Instead, Green Bay went for it and Jamaal Williams lost 2 yards.
The Vikings got a 31-yard field goal from Bailey out of the ensuing possession to pull within 11 at the half. So why didn’t Packers coach Matt LaFleur take the three points?
Turns out that was a question for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“I looked over at Carl Johnson, the line judge, and he had spotted a first down,” Rodgers said. “It looked from my vantage point that it might have been a positive questionable spot for us, and under two (minutes) that’s a booth review, so I just wnted to get us on the ball quickly.
“From the time it took Carl to spot the ball to whatever happened when it went inside, I just assumed first down, because when (Johnson) put the ball down I was looking at the first-down marker and it’s clearly past the line to gain. So I don’t know what happened when it came back inside, but obviously I thought it was first down there and it was definitely not first down, it was fourth down. So that was just a bad play by me.”