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Dalvin Cook Pops Big Run Against Hometown Team to Help Vikings Win

Dalvin Cook remains undefeated against Florida teams in his hometown.

Having grown up near Hard Rock Stadium, Cook again showed Sunday why the venue is his house.

"The Chef" chipped away all afternoon before finally breaking a big play that helped seal a Vikings 24-16 win over the Dolphins.

On second-and-4 from the Vikings 47-yard line, and with just over three minutes remaining in the game, Cook took the handoff from Kirk Cousins.

The Vikings had struggled to get their ground game up and running all day, but they hadn't given up. The tenacity paid off. Cook made it through the first level of traffic, dodged defenders and then outran CB Xavien Howard and S Brandon Jones, taking it all the way to the end zone.

"It popped. I don't know what to tell you," Cook told reporters with a laugh postgame. "The o-line opened it up, and C.J. [Ham] came through and cleaned everybody else up. I had a good run."

A good run in more ways than one.

Sunday marked Cook's first time playing an NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium. He's plenty familiar with the venue, though, having played seven times there throughout his high school and college football career.

The victory improved Minnesota to 5-1 on the season and Cook to 8-0 all-time at the South Florida stadium.

Cook celebrated in front of a crowd saturated with Vikings Purple and featuring numerous family members and friends.

He spoke with FOX sideline reporter Shannon Spake following the game and emphasized how special it was to share the win with loved ones.

"I'm living my childhood dream in front of my hometown and my second home. You see the SKOL Chant," Cook said, gesturing to excited Vikings fans lingering in the bleachers. "I'm just having a moment."

Prior to the touchdown, Cook had netted just 19 yards on 10 carries.

He acknowledged his "anxiousness" early on in wanting to find some yardage and expressed gratefulness to Head Coach Kevin O'Connell for continuing to incorporate the run.

When O'Connell spoke with media members following the win, he spoke specifically of Cook breaking loose.

"That's the type of run – that cut, that's a game-changing cut that only certain players in this league can make," O'Connell said. "It was a critical run for us a big moment in the game."

And while Cook certainly appreciates the accolades, there's one stat he's most happy with.

"The win is the only thing that's important to me," Cook told Spake. "I don't care about nothing else. As long as that plane ride back to Minnesota is enjoyable. We got the win."

Cook's big run wasn't Minnesota's only significant offensive play of the day. The other notable pass-and-catch occurred on the final play of the third quarter.

The Vikings only needed three yards for the first down, but they went after – and got – much more than that.

Cousins launched the ball downfield to Justin Jefferson, dropping the ball beautifully into the receiver's hands for a 47-yard gain. The perfectly executed play set up Minnesota at the Miami 8, and Cousins found Adam Thielen for a 2-yard touchdown just two plays later.

A camera captured O'Connell smiling on the sideline just before the in-stride catch by Jefferson. He later said he anticipated the play working well.

"We were kind of in the mix, in the midst of hunting that look with how they were playing [Jefferson], and that Base 2 [defense], our 11 grouping kind of made us have to protect the passer in some unique ways," O'Connell said. "And what we were able to do there was all on Kirk. He had some options at the line of scrimmage, and the second I saw him get to that play, I figured we had a pretty good chance to pitch and catch that one.

"Those two guys, when they get a look like that, are going to hit that 100 out of 100 [times]," O'Connell added.

Cook led Minnesota in rushing yards with 77, and Jefferson led the team with six catches for 107 yards through the air. Adam Thielen had four catches for 36 yards.

View Week 6 action photos from the Vikings-Dolphins game at Hard Rock Stadium on Oct. 16.

Cousins finished the day 20-of-30 passing for 175 yards and two touchdowns with a 104.2 passer rating. He was sacked three times.

The Vikings offense played sluggishly through a good chunk of Sunday's game, with 10 of their possessions being three-and-punts. Minnesota converted just two of 12 third-down attempts.

"When you're going three-and-out, you're just not getting Dalvin at-bats to be able to go make those kinds of runs. If you convert third downs, you get more ops," Cousins said. "They did bottle our run game up well for much of the day, and that made it hard.

"We've got to find a way. We've got a list of things we need to do better, and one of them would be, 'How do we get more of those Dalvin-type runs [that happened] at the end of the game throughout?' " Cousins added.

Cook said he can't put his finger on what went wrong just yet but credited a Vikings defensive performance that helped put the ball back in Minnesota's hands.

"Every Sunday presents a new challenge. We've gotta go back and watch film. I can't tell you right now, but hats off to our defense for keeping us where we needed to be," Cook said. "But you seen once we got going, we got into a rhythm, and it was hard to stop us."

Despite the difficulties Minnesota's offense faced Sunday, O'Connell is proud of the way his team handled the hurdles.

"We rely on one another, we push each other, and not one time did you see any finger pointing, any kind of negativity on our sideline," he said. "What you felt was just support and … we all believed we were going to win that football game."

The Vikings now head into their bye week sitting at 5-1 and with a two-game lead in the NFC North division.

More than one of their wins, including this one, hasn't been pretty. But Cook and Company will go back to the drawing board happy with where they sit.

"It gives us direction. This shows the team we can be. Shows us we can win close games, and we've been in a bunch of them. Just shows the character. Shows the relationships in this locker room," Cook said. "We enjoy it. Every day, I wake up happy. That's a blessing. We've just gotta not jump ahead. Every day it's a new grind for us, every day is a new approach.

"Playing in my hometown is always important, but at this point in my career, I just want to win," Cook said. "I want to bring something bigger to Minnesota than they've ever seen before. We're trying to go somewhere. That extra stuff really don't matter to me; I just want to win, add to that win column."