MINNEAPOLIS — Dalvin Cook was more than ready to run, and so were his understudies in a 20-9 Vikings victory over the Cardinals on Saturday.
Cook rushed just two times. The first was a gain of 3, and the second was an 85-yard touchdown that broke a Vikings preseason record.
The Chef headed to the sidelines after putting the Vikings up 7-3 with 7:10 remaining in the first quarter.
Alexander Mattison replaced Cook for the remainder of the first half and rushed six times for 18 yards, but it was Boone that helped spark a fourth-quarter comeback and erase a 9-7 deficit.
Boone’s consecutive runs of 8 and 7 yards put the Vikings up 13-9 with 8:20 remaining in the game. He finished with 10 carries for 41 yards.
De’Angelo Henderson added 10 carries for 36 yards in the fourth quarter, and fullback Khari Blasingame scored on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Sloter on fourth-and-2 with less than a minute to go.
Sloter finished 6-of-7 passing for 102 yards with the score and a maxed-out NFL passer rating of 158.3. He entered the game in the fourth quarter.
Kirk Cousins started the game without one of his favorite targets, Adam Thielen, and finished 3-of-13 passing for 35 yards with a passer rating of 39.6. He was under more duress than he had been in the 2019 preseason as Minnesota allowed two sacks of the starter after not allowing any in its first two exhibition games.
In between Cousins and Sloter, Sean Mannion was 6-of-9 passing for 57 yards and a passer rating of 84.0.
Bisi Johnson led Minnesota’s aerial attack with 52 yards on three receptions.
In addition to Thielen, Pro Bowlers Harrison Smith and Linval Joseph did not play for the Vikings.
The defense gave up more explosive plays than Head Coach Mike Zimmer would have liked, but the unit clamped down again in key moments.
Zimmer improved to 20-4 in preseason games with the Vikings.
Minnesota (3-0) will visit Buffalo (3-0) at 6 p.m. (CT) Thursday to close out the preseason.
Q1, 7:52 remaining
Cardinals, 3 Vikings 0
Zane Gonzalez kicks a 32-yard field goal [8 plays, 54 yards, 3:26 time of possession]
Worth a challenge: Officials ruled David Johnson down by contact after a catch-and-run for a 10-yard gain and made the announcement as Jayron Kearse was making his way to the other end zone.
Mike Zimmer challenged that the ball was out before Johnson was down, but officials said the call “stands.”
Q1, 7:10 remaining
Vikings 7, Cardinals 3
Dalvin Cook rushes for an 85-yard touchdown (Kaare Vedvick kicks PAT) [1 play, 75 yards, 0:42]
Eraser: Cook set a Vikings preseason record for longest run and erased a holding penalty that was called on the previous snap.
Q2, 13:12 remaining
Vikings 7, Cardinals 6
Gonzalez kicks a 38-yard field goal [12 plays, 55 yards, 5:33]
Chunk plays allowed: Zimmer has been vocal about allowing too many big plays this preseson, and the start of the drive was no exception.
Kyler Murray connected with Damiere Byrd for a gain of 18 against Xavier Rhodes to start the play and extended the possession with a 19-yard completion to KeeSean Johnson against Trae Waynes.
Johnson added a 12-yard run two plays later.
Q2, 5:10 remaining
Cardinals 9, Vikings 7
Gonzalez kicks a 47-yard field goal [12 plays, 46 yards, 6:43]
Possession offense: The Cardinals chewed up nearly seven minutes of clock thanks to a pair of conversions on third-and-short.
Murray completed a 5-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald on third-and-2 and converted a third-and-1 with a pass to Christian Kirk for a gain of 1. A holding penalty stalled the momentum.
Q4, 8:20 remaining
Vikings 13, Cardinals 9
Mike Boone rushes for 7-yard touchdown (2-point conversion pass no good) [6 plays, 80 yards, 2:43]
Explosive gains: Kyle Sloter found Bisi Johnson on a third-and-8, and the rookie executed a spin move that helped him pick up extra yards for a gain of 22.
After Johnson drew a 21-yard pass interference penalty, Tyler Conklin maintained concentration in spite of a huge hit as the ball arrived for a gain of 20 to the Arizona 15.
Q4, 0:50 remaining
Vikings 20, Cardinals 9
Khari Blasingame catches a 15-yard pass from Sloter (Vedvick kick) [14 plays, 86 yards, 6:08]