Dalvin Cook’s career-long 70-yard run began to unfold well before Vikings center Pat Elflein snapped the ball late in the first half of Sunday’s 24-9 win over the Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“They gave us a unique look on that play,” right guard Mike Remmers said. “So I tip my hat to Pat for seeing it and making the blocking adjustment. We all just adjusted off his call.”
Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo had dialed up an outside zone run to the left on the first play after a Lions field goal made it a 7-6 game. It was the right call at the right time because the Lions had all three linebackers to the other side of the ball.
“And then we saw the safety on that side [Quandre Diggs] drop down off the edge and show blitz,” Elflein said. “With the ‘will’ linebacker [Jarrad Davis] shaded to the right of the ball, we were all kind of on the same page with what we were seeing.”
Left tackle Riley Reiff alerted Elflein that Diggs was going to blitz.
“And we just echoed that down the line,” Elflein said.
Now came the execution part. The blocking had to be crisp, and Cook’s hamstring had to be sound. The same hamstring that had caused him to miss four consecutive games and five of the past six.
At the snap, Elflein drove nose tackle A’Shawn Robinson far to the left and out of the play.
“Pat had a great block,” said Cook, who had touched the ball five times before that carry. “That was my read on the play.”
Left guard Danny Isadora took care of end Romeo Okwara, while Reiff kicked aside Diggs like a bouncer at closing time.
The front side of the play was clean. Cook blasted through the hole. But the backside blockers still had roles to play.
Remmers had to reach Davis in time to keep him from sliding over to make the tackle. Mission accomplished.
“Dalvin is just such an explosive player,” Remmers said. “You don’t have to do much. What he did can happen any play.”
Backside tight end Kyle Rudolph took care of middle linebacker Christian Jones. And, last but certainly not least, front-side receiver Laquon Treadwell blocked cornerback DeShawn Shead.
“It actually surprised me because Dalvin hit it so fast,” Treadwell said. “I was on my guy and when I looked and, I mean, Dalvin was out the gate. That was the first time we’ve seen a big run like that this year. I was like, ‘Wow, good to see him back.’”
According to NextGen, Cook topped out at 22 mph on the run. The fastest clocked by any NFL player this season.
“I ran faster than Tyreek?!” Cook screamed.
Yes, Dalvin, faster than Chiefs do-it-all athlete Tyreek Hill.
“I’m no slow guy, but running faster than Tyreek, that’s fast, man,” Cook said. “He probably be jogging though.”
Cook finished with 89 yards and no touchdowns on 10 carries. His only regret is it wasn’t 94 yards and one touchdown. Yes, even at 22 mph, he couldn’t beat a good angle by safety Glover Quin, who tripped him up at the 5.
So, what were you thinking when that happened, Dalvin?
“We better score,” he said.
They did. A 2-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen made it 14-6.
Cook wasn’t interested in talking about facing the Lions on the same field where he suffered a torn ACL in Week 4 last year. As for his hamstring, he did say he was nervous about it until the 70-yarder.
“That kind of tested it out,” he said. “That’s when you know you’re good to go.”
And, like all smart running backs, Cook couldn’t say enough about the blocking he received on the best run of his young career.
“It just goes to show you that when you get 11 men on one accord, good things can happen,” Cook said. “And that’s what happened on that play.”
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org