EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Vikings offense was back on track and rolling as running back Dalvin Cook churned out a career-high 218 yards from scrimmage during Sunday’s 28-10 win against the Giants.
Cook’s 86 receiving yards, on six catches, also set a career high. He was the Vikings’ second-leading receiver as coordinator Kevin Stefanski dialed up a handful of screens against a Giants defense missing three injured linebackers.
“It opens up more for [Vikings receivers], because they have to play me honest,” said Cook, who also rushed for 100 yards for the fourth time this season (21 carries for 132). “They can’t just leave me down there, because I pride myself on making the first guy miss, so they can’t just play me with a linebacker. They got a cheat a safety into the box or something like that.”
Cook had one gaffe when Giants safety Jabrill Peppers caught him from behind on a 19-yard run and jarred the ball loose at the Giants 4-yard line. It was Cook’s first fumble in 11 games.
“There were times when they had him, and he was able to accelerate through it,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “He’s a hard, physical runner; usually he hardly ever fumbles, so that was really surprising.”
Through five games, Cook has 542 yards rushing and 200 yards receiving.
‘Back to myself’
In his third game since returning from a multi-ligament knee injury, cornerback Mike Hughes led the Vikings defense with three pass deflections in a dominant effort. Hughes said he’s “back to myself” after starting Sunday for injured Mackensie Alexander, who was ruled out because of elbow and groin injuries.
Hughes nearly made a leaping, third-down interception off Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones in the second quarter.
“I feel like I’m back to myself,” Hughes said. “I’m getting that confidence. Just going out there and having fun. That’s the most important thing. When you’re having fun, you’re not worried about the negative things.”
‘Shout-out to the rook’
The Vikings defense left Sunday’s win with respect for Jones, who completed 21 of 38 passes for 182 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Jones took eight hits (four sacks) and watched 11 passes get deflected or intercepted, but defensive end Everson Griffen said he saw “courage” from the 22-year-old first-round draft pick.
“I want to give a shout-out to the rook,” Griffen said. “He was doing really good. He was showing courage. He’s a good player. I see good things happening for him in the future.”
The Giants were already without star running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) when his replacement, Wayne Gallman Jr., was knocked from the game because of a concussion after two carries for 14 yards. Jonathan Hilliman, an undrafted rookie from Rutgers, led the Giants with 20 rushing yards.
The Vikings lost linebacker Ben Gedeon because of a concussion in the third quarter.