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2019 Vikings Position Recap: Running Backs

View the top photos of Vikings RB Dalvin Cook from the 2019 season.

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings pounded the beef in 2019, turning a humorous locker-room slogan into an identity on offense.

For those unaware, that means running the ball, something the Vikings did often this past season.

Minnesota pounded the rock on 476 of its 970 total offensive plays, good for a run percentage of 49.07. The Vikings that trailed only the Ravens (56.02 percent) and 49ers (49.21 percent) in that stat during the regular season.

The Vikings commitment to the run game meant a big year for Dalvin Cook, who had the breakout season many were expecting after he dealt with injuries in his first two years in the league.

Cook ran for career bests of 1,135 yards and 13 scores on 250 carries (4.5 yards per attempt), with his touchdown total ranking fourth in the NFL.

But there was also plenty of depth behind the Pro Bowl running back.

Rookie Alexander Mattison helped carry the load with 100 rushing attempts for 462 yards, and Mike Boone showcased his skills late in the season when Cook and Mattison were hampered by injuries. Boone finished with 273 yards and three scores on 49 attempts.

Vikings fullback C.J. Ham was also an integral part of the run game, as he helped pave the way for the stable of backs. Ham was named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday for his efforts.

All in all, the Vikings rushing for 2,133 total yards as Minnesota averaged 133.3 rushing yards per game, numbers that ranked sixth in the league.

Notable Number

Minnesota finished with 19 rushing touchdowns in 2019, its highest total in six seasons under Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. That mark was good enough for the sixth-most rushing scores in the league, and more than doubled the 2018 total of nine.

The Vikings had a higher touchdown percentage on the ground than they did the year before, too.

2019: 476 rushes for 2,133 yards with 19 touchdowns (touchdown rate of 3.99 percent)

2018: 357 rushes for 1,493 yards and nine touchdowns (touchdown rate of 0.84 percent)

Memorable Moment

On the night he surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career, Cook also put on a show for a nationally-televised audience.

Cook hit the milestone in the first quarter against Dallas on Sunday Night Football, becoming the second player in the NFL at that time to each the 1,000-yard mark.

But Cook wasn't done, as he eventually tallied 97 yards and a touchdown on 26 tough carries. He also made his presence felt in the passing game with seven catches for 86 yards, as he averaged 5.54 yards per touch on his 33 total touches.

Cook's strong performance helped the Vikings notch a key conference win as the running back showcased all of his talents in primetime.

Regular-Season Statistics

Dalvin Cook

250 carries for 1,135 yards (4.5 yards per attempt) with 13 touchdowns; 53 receptions for 519 yards

Alexander Mattison

100 carries for 462 yards (4.6 yards per attempt) with a touchdown; 10 receptions for 82 yards

C.J. Ham

Seven carries for 17 yards (2.4 yards per attempt); 17 receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown

Mike Boone

49 carries for 273 yards (5.6 yards per attempt) and three touchdowns; three receptions for 17 yards

Ameer Abdullah

23 carries for 115 yards; 15 receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown

2 Highest highs

1. The Vikings season-high in rushing yards was 211, a mark the team hit twice. The first instance came in a Week 3 home win against the Raiders, with Cook leading the way with 110 yards and a touchdown on just 16 carries.

Mattison added 58 yards on 12 carries, and punctuated his day with a hurdle over an Oakland defender for his first-career score.

Mike Boone ran for 28 yards, and Kirk Cousins chipped in with 16 as the Vikings averaged 5.6 yards per attempt on 38 total carries against the Raiders.

2. While tempted to include with the other 211-yard performance here (that came against the Giants in Week 5), we're actually going with a performance in a loss.

It was Week 2, where Cook posted a career-best 154 rushing yards at Lambeau Field against the Packers. No, the Vikings didn't win, but Cook set the stage for his monstrous season by ripping off a 75-yard touchdown run that caught everyone's attention.

He averaged nearly eight yards per carry on his 20 rushing attempts in a stellar performance that saw the Vikings rush for 198 yards as a team.

The Lowest low

1. In the days leading up to a Week 4 road game against the Bears, the Vikings talked over and over about how they wanted to establish the run and take the fight to Chicago.

That didn't happen, as Minnesota simply wasn't as physical as Chicago, with the Vikings running for just 40 yards on 16 carries, an average of just 2.5 yards per attempt.

Cook had 35 yards on 14 attempts with a long run of just nine yards, while Mattison had two attempts for 5 yards.

While the rushing performance was disappointing, the 16-6 loss to Chicago also set Minnesota back in the NFC North race as the Vikings eventually settled for a Wild Card spot.


"I like to have the ball in my hands because I think something special can happen."

— Cook after being named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 10

"There were plenty of times this season where we didn't play up to the level we're capable of, and there were times that we did. We just have to make sure we work on that and be consistent."

— Mattison