GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Vikings believe they escaped serious injuries when both right tackle Rashod Hill and running back Dalvin Cook were forced from the Packers game in the second half of Sunday’s 29-29 tie.
Hill did not return after apparently injuring his right ankle in the third quarter. Cook pointed to muscle fatigue as his issue.
He gained 38 yards on 10 carries and 52 yards on three receptions before going down on the first drive of overtime after he was hit on a 1-yard carry. The team announced he injured his hamstring, which Cook said afterward was “fine.”
“It’s good. Just fatigue,” Cook said. “It was hot out there.”
Coach Mike Zimmer didn’t appear too concerned about Hill, either.
“I don’t think it’s serious,” Zimmer said.
Rookie Brian O’Neill made his NFL debut on offense by stepping in for Hill to play the rest of the second half and overtime. O’Neill, a rookie second-round pick, said things moved too quickly to think long about his debut.
“To be honest, I didn’t really have a second to think about it,” O’Neill said. “I was just trying to give the best protection I could on the field goal or give everything I could on each individual play.”
Punt returner Marcus Sherels left the game because of a chest injury. The veteran was slow to get up after his only return for 13 yards in the second quarter.
Slot corner Mackensie Alexander’s return wasn’t a full one, since the third-year corner was yanked in the third quarter by Zimmer after Alexander surrendered a third-down conversion, 34-yard pass to Packers tight end Jimmy Graham. Alexander, who’d also been flagged on an earlier third down, ended up ceding reps to rookie Mike Hughes.
Alexander re-entered the game when Zimmer pulled Trae Waynes after he missed a tackle that led to a 22-yard gain by Packers receiver Geronimo Allison. Zimmer admitted the carousel came about because of busted coverages.
“A little bit, yeah,” Zimmer said. “We turned the tight end loose twice when the quarterback was holding the ball, and we looked back and the guy went up. It’s simple stuff.”
Officiating a focus
The Vikings came away confused by how Sunday’s game was officiated. Roughing the passer remained a focus with a penalty apiece against the Packers and Vikings. Zimmer lamented Packers offensive linemen holding his pass rushers. Defensive end Danielle Hunter said he was befuddled by how pushing a Packers running back was called for holding in the fourth quarter.
Eric Kendricks was flagged for roughing Aaron Rodgers after he threw an incompletion, a clear enforcement of the NFL’s emphasis of outlawing landing on quarterbacks.
“I don’t really know what to do anymore,” Kendricks said. “I thought he had the ball the whole time. I thought I had a sack.”
Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen combined for 21 catches and 259 yards against the Packers, the most production from the Vikings duo since they combined for 271 yards against the Buccaneers last season.
Each receiver made a play to cap the Vikings’ comeback. Thielen caught the 22-yard touchdown between two Packers defenders near the end of regulation. Then Diggs shook his defender and got open for the two-point conversion leading to overtime.
“I was just trying to not show my hands so they couldn’t put their hands up and knock it down,” Thielen said. “It just shows how accurate Kirk can be, especially in those critical situations.”