Dalvin Cook did to Bobby McCain what he could not do just six days ago in Seattle. Leaving McCain in the dust, Cook took the Vikings’ 2018 hopes and ran with them during a 41-17 win against the Dolphins on Sunday.
Interim coordinator Kevin Stefanski’s play-calling touch dominated headlines, but Stefanski called a play his fired predecessor, John DeFilippo, attempted in last week’s loss against the Seahawks. The difference was Cook, who this time avoided a shoestring tackle by the opposing cornerback on his way to a 13-yard touchdown run.
“The [Seahawks] corner made the tackle last week,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “On the sidelines I said to him, ‘Next time, the corner doesn’t make that tackle and you make him miss, and if you make him miss it’s a big play.’ ”
A big play it was for the Vikings. Cook’s elusive burst turned the score 14-0 for the Vikings’ first two-touchdown lead since Week 9. The score empowered a run-first plan churning out a season-high 220 rushing yards.
Cook erupted with 163 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in a reminder to Vikings fans and the rest of the NFL of what Cook, the dynamic dual threat, can do when given enough chances.
His 20 touches were the most since Week 1. So went the Vikings’ focus after coach Mike Zimmer fired DeFilippo following his 13-game tenure as offensive coordinator.
“It was something that was in the game plan from the first day of this week,” fullback C.J. Ham said. “The game plan is we’re going to run the ball, be physical.”
Cook’s second touchdown run was even more impressive. He cut by one Dolphins defender, spun away from another and sprinted to the sideline during a 21-yard touchdown run ended by Cook’s two fingers saying “peace” to Miami.
“Special player,” Ham said. “That’s all you can really say. The last one he had, kind of just speechless afterward.”
Cook credited the Vikings offensive line throughout the day. He even planned for one lineman to spike the football after a touchdown, so center Pat Elflein got the honor in the first quarter. As the final minutes ticked away, Cook walked up to each offensive lineman and shook his hand.
“No them, no me. That’s the message,” Cook said. “The way they delivered today — unbelievable. They opened holes that was too big. Y’all probably could’ve hit them holes. They were that big today.”
Is this a sign of things to come?
Zimmer canceled the Vikings’ typical ‘victory Monday,’ which awards players with an added off day after a win. Instead, Zimmer said he wants his offense, in particular, to sink into Sunday’s game film.
“I thought the offensive line needed to see this thing [from Sunday],” Zimmer said. “[See] what we are able to accomplish when we do the right things.”