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Dalvin Cook Breaks Free, Leads Successful Vikings Rushing Attack

MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings rushing attack wore down the turf at U.S. Bank Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

And it was the starting running back who did most of the damage.

With Dalvin Cook making a splash on just two carries in his preseason debut, the Vikings churned out 190 total rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground in a 20-9 win against Arizona in the third preseason contest.

"We work hard. As a running back group, I know what type of work we put in, in the meeting room, individual [drills], just the little things we do," Cook said. "To see those guys take it to the field, it's definitely good."

Cook recorded just two carries Saturday against the Cardinals, but that was all he needed to show the rest of the league that he is healthy and primed for the regular season.

"We knew he was. I was just being protective of him," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said of Cook, who did not play against New Orleans or Seattle. "I just wanted him to go in there and get tackled and feel good. But on the one play, he never did get tackled."

Cook's highlight play came a little more than midway through the first quarter, when he angled to the left before cutting back right and racing for an 85-yard touchdown run.

What did Cook see when he pulled of his cutback move?

"Touchdown," he said.

The former second-round pick broke a tackle at the 35-yard line and stumbled, but stayed on his feet near midfield, waltzing into the end zone in front of a raucous crowd. It was the longest touchdown run in Vikings preseason history.

"Those guys did a great job giving me running lanes on the plays I was out there," Cook said. "And Chad Beebe and [Kyle] Rudolph made some good blocks downfield. Rudolph's was actually the block that sprung me free. Gotta give credit to those guys."

"If I get to the second level, it's my job to change the scoreboard," Cook added. "As a running back, you only get in the secondary so many times, so you have to take advantage of that."

Cook finished with two carries for 88 yards, but the rest of Minnesota's running backs came in and rushed for 100-plus yards on their own.

Of course, that was after they were impressed by 'The Chef's' long touchdown run.

"That was amazing. Just to see Dalvin come in and do some Dalvin Cook things, you know?," said Vikings running back Mike Boone. "He broke off, what, an 80-plus yarder? It looked like he wasn't even running his fastest. A great athlete, a great back. Shout-out to Dalvin."

Boone had 41 yards and De'Angelo Henderson had 36 yards as each player had 10 carries. Boone added the go-ahead touchdown with just over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Alexander Mattison had 18 yards on six carries, and Ameer Abdullah had one attempt for seven yards.

"We try to just be the same," Boone said. "When Dalvin comes out, we try to go in and produce like he can.

"Just us having that bond outside of the building, it just kind of, you see it and it shows when any back's in," Boone added. "We're happy for anybody, whether it's a 2-yard run or an 80-yard run. That's just how it is."

Minnesota's successful day on the ground made up for an otherwise lackluster performance from the first-team offense.

Kirk Cousins completed three of 13 passes for 35 yards for a passer rating of 39.6. He was sacked twice, the first two sacks taken by the Vikings this preseason.

Zimmer and Cousins both weren't pleased with the output from the first group, which produced 45 yards of offense outside of Cook's long score.

"Especially after Dalvin's long touchdown, I felt like they got relaxed and got slower," Zimmer said. "Tempo-wise, we didn't get in and out of the huddle. We dropped ball and had penalties. I'll leave it at that."

Added Cousins: "Disappointing performance. Put it on me. It wasn't good enough. If we play that way during the season, it's going to be a very tough year, so we have to be much better than we were today, and I have to be much better than I was today. It's about as simple as that."

The Vikings first-team offense likely will not play in Thursday's preseason finale, meaning the group now has two-plus weeks to get ready for the season opener against Atlanta on Sept. 8.

While the passing game left more to be desired Saturday, Cook and the Vikings ground game showed they are ready for the season ahead.

"It was great. The thing is, if we cover up guys and give them a hole to run through, those guys can make some plays," said Vikings left tackle Riley Reiff. "You saw it [today]. We just have to go out and execute."