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3 Stats That Stood Out: Dolphins at Vikings

The Vikings started clean and closed strong in a 41-17 win over the Dolphins on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Dalvin Cook had a career-high 136 yards and his first two-touchdown game against his hometown team.

The Vikings defense recorded eight sacks in the second half to set a team record for QB takedowns in one half, and special teams provided a critical boost when Marcus Sherels returned a punt 70 yards.

Minnesota improved to 7-6-1 and maintained its status as the No. 6 seed in the NFC Playoffs if the postseason started next week. The Vikings have games at Detroit on Sunday and at home against Chicago on Dec. 30.

The Bears clinched the NFC North by eliminating the Packers from postseason contention Sunday. It is Chicago's first division title since 2010.

Here are three stats that stood out.

1. 9 sacks recorded; 11 completions allowed

Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter recorded sacks on consecutive plays in the third quarter. Each player totaled 2.0 for the day, helping Minnesota sack Ryan Tannehill nine times.

Everson Griffen, Tom Johnson, Sheldon Richardson, Eric Kendricks and Mackensie Alexander also recorded sacks as the Dolphins lost 71 total yards on the plays.

Tannehill completed just 11 of his 24 pass attempts for 108 yards, meaning Miami finished with 37 net passing yards.

Alexander led the Vikings with two passes defended. Kendricks, Xavier Rhodes and Holton Hill each had one.

2. 19 runs in the first half

Last week at Seattle, the Vikings had just 20 offensive snaps and 61 net yards in the first half.

On Sunday against Miami, however, the Vikings racked up 252 yards on 33 offensive plays, including 128 yards on 19 rush attempts.

Minnesota was able to establish the run early, implement play-action passes and maintain a balance throughout the game.

The Vikings didn't have a negative play and reached the end zone on their first three possessions to build a 21-0 lead.

3. 10 yards on 26 plays

The Dolphins were able to score on a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the third quarter and make it a 21-17 game.

Head Coach Mike Zimmer placed blame on himself for the defensive call. The Vikings blitzed, and the Dolphins picked it up, allowing Kalen Ballage to reach the second level. Minnesota's secondary was unable to make it to Ballage.

Those things can happen, but not every defense can respond the way that the Vikings did after a play like that.

For the rest of the day, the Dolphins gained 10 net yards on 26 plays.

Miami had four consecutive possessions (two to end the third quarter and two to open the fourth quarter) result in negative yardage.

Minnesota followed the four possessions by scoring three times (a field goal and two touchdowns).