CHICAGO – Dalvin Cook said "it was just one of those days."
The Vikings running back entered Sunday's 16-6 loss to the Bears as the NFL's rushing leader. He left with 35 rushing yards on 14 carries.
Despite the Bears missing two stars in defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (knee) and linebacker Roquan Smith (personal reasons), the Vikings were unable to enforce their running will against a defense that continued to dominate them.
In three career games against Chicago, Cook is averaging 2.5 yards per carry on 34 attempts.
"Never found our rhythm," Cook said. "Just never got nothing going, and when we did it was just too late."
Quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense looked lost and uncomfortable without Cook, who ran for at least 110 yards in the first three games, paving the way. The Vikings got outplayed up front, according to coach Mike Zimmer.
"They just probably overpowered some of our guys here and there," Zimmer said.
Cook is now second in the NFL with 410 rushing yards after he was surpassed by Carolina's Christian McCaffery (411) on Sunday.
"We just have to get back to work and not let it carry over into next week," Cook said.
Pass rush quiet
The Vikings sacked Bears backup quarterback Chase Daniel just once, but that was mostly the product of Daniel's quick throws, according to defensive end Everson Griffen.
"They were getting the ball off quick," said Griffen, who had two of the Vikings' four hits on Daniel. "It was going to the sticks, going hitches, quick to the sticks. They get paid like we do. We've got to go back to the drawing board and figure out and revisit some of the plays and get better."
Bears coach Matt Nagy has found ways to limit the Vikings' pass rush, which has just two sacks in the past three meetings between the teams (all Vikings losses).
The Vikings were flagged 10 times (three declined) for 68 yards, the most since they were flagged 14 times (three declined) during the season-opening win against the Falcons. Some calls were disputable, including a roughing-the-passer penalty on defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, but many were obvious infractions.
Safety Anthony Harris' defensive holding negated a Vikings fumble recovery on the opening drive. In the third quarter, Griffen jumped offsides on second down, helping to sustain a Bears drive that ended in a field goal.
"We've got to eliminate the penalties," Griffen said.
'Look in the mirror'
Bears defensive tackle Roy Robertson-Harris was nearly untouched on a second-quarter sack because of apparent miscommunication between rookie center Garrett Bradbury and left guard Pat Elflein.
"Our job is protect the quarterback and running the football, and we did not do that," Bradbury said. "So, I'm going to put that on me. Everyone has to look at themselves in the mirror and what they could have done better."
Cornerback Mackensie Alexander played most of the game as the Vikings' nickel back in his first game since dislocating his elbow against the Falcons in Week 1.
Alexander's role far outweighed second-year corner Mike Hughes, who rotated as a slot and outside corner.
Alexander had three tackles, including one run stop.