ARLINGTON, Texas. — Sunday night’s game between the Vikings and Cowboys was billed as a matchup between two of the NFL’s top running backs.
There was Dalvin Cook on one sideline, a young playmaker enjoying a breakout season now that he is fully healthy.
There was Ezekiel Elliott on the other sideline, a punishing running back in his fourth season who has averaged nearly 100 rushing yards per game in his career.
And on this night, not only did the Vikings walk out of AT&T Stadium with a crucial 28-24 win, but Cook showed the nation once again that he is among the NFL’s most exciting players.
“It’s fun blocking for him, that’s for sure,” said Vikings left tackle Riley Reiff.
Cook tallied 33 total offensive touches for 183 total yards and a touchdown Sunday night on national television.
Elliott, meanwhile, had 20 carries for 47 yards, good for an average of 2.4 yards per attempt. He also had a pair of receptions for 16 yards. His 63 total yards tied his lowest output of the season.
Cook, a 2017 second-round pick, had 97 yards and a score on 26 carries, and also added 86 receiving yards on seven receptions.
Cook’s output would likely have been higher if not for a total of negative-4 yards on his final three carries as he helped the Vikings salt away the win, but he was happy nonetheless.
“I felt great,” Cook said. “We got a big win. It’s special — Sunday Night Football. It’s the moment we live for. We’ve got to cherish these moments.”
Cook entered Week 10 with a league-leading 894 rushing yards and, at one point, had his sixth 100-yard rushing performance of the 2019 season.
View postgame celebration images from Sunday as the Vikings beat the Cowboys by a 28-24 score.
But he lost 4 yards on his final carry of the night, as he missed out on 100-plus yards, and the chance to record the 20th occurrence of a 1,000-yard rusher in franchise history.
Still, Cook was plenty happy, including with the decision to go for it on fourth-and-goal at the 2-yard line late in the third quarter.
The running back took a toss to the right, and followed fullback C.J. Ham into the end zone for a lead the Vikings wouldn’t relinquish.
"What would you have called? Great call … [Ham] gave me the edge,” Cook said. “It’s crazy because I called the play before they called it in my head.
“Hammer gave me the edge … that situation was a, ‘Gotta have it moment.’ That’s all it came down to,” Cook added. “It’s a good play. Get me to the edge, and I’ll do the rest. Hammer did exactly that.”
Cook did plenty of damage on the ground and through the air, as he had a trio of big plays on screen passes. The running back had totals of 30, 27 and 23 yards on receptions throughout the game as he helped make up for the loss of Adam Thielen, who missed the game with a hamstring injury.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said an aggressive Dallas defensive line helped open up plays for Cook in the passing game.
“I just think they’ve always been really good, hard pass rushers, and when you rush with intent, sometimes you can slip a screen behind them,” Cousins said. “And they did some things with coverage in the second half to take away screens – twice they did a good job bottling it up because of the coverage they were in.
“So, it’s a little bit of a back-and-forth, trying to get them in the right coverage so you can have some success running them,” Cousins added. “But when you’re rushing that hard and really affect the passer, then sometimes screens are the answer.”
Cook now has 991 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 203 carries to go along with 40 receptions for 424 yards.
He has 1,415 total yards this season, the most scrimmage yards through 10 games in Vikings history.
“Dalvin handles everything great. He played outstanding,” said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. “He had some unbelievable runs – tough, competitive runs – and a great job on the screens. The offensive line did a great job on those.
“He’s a great player,” Zimmer added.