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Dalvin Cook Scores 1st Career TD, Breaks Vikings Record Against Bucs

MINNEAPOLIS –After no scores in Minnesota's first two regular-season games, Dalvin Cook only had to wait four minutes into the third to notch his first career touchdown.

On second-and-goal from the 1, Cook dove over the pile and broke the plane of the end zone.

"It was a good feeling knowing that I got in, and that I was in this time," Cook quipped after a play last week was initially called a score and then reversed. "It was good – coming out, scoring a touchdown in front of the home crowd, it was good."

Cook essentially set up his own score two plays earlier.

Case Keenum, who started in place of an injured Sam Bradford, found Cook on second-and-7 for a catch that moved the chains 16 yards. The running back fought to get the touchdown there and on a run on first-and-goal, but he was brought down just shy both times.

"I knew we were on the 1- or 2-yard line, so nine times out of 10 it's going to be a run," Cook said. "So that was in my head, 'Catch your breath, and let's go.' "

Cook's score was one of four Vikings touchdowns en route to a 34-17 win over the Buccaneers to move to 2-1 on the season.

He was effective in the passing game throughout the day, hauling in five catches for 72 yards.

Cook said the Vikings implement running backs that way in practice regularly, so he's ready for whatever play is called. He believes that teams "tend to forget" about backs making catches out of the backfield, and the Vikings capitalized on that Sunday.

"I think today they forgot about me a little bit. Me and Case connected on a couple of passes, and we got it going early," Cook said.

Following the game, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer highlighted Cook's complete skill set and the versatility it gives the offense.

Zimmer called Cook "a really good player."

"He's got great acceleration and quickness. Does a good job in protection, catches the ball well," Zimmer said. "He's a kid that, I think, is going to continue to get better. You saw some of the tough runs he made today, and I thought the offensive line was outstanding."

A focus of Cook's during the week had been to start faster out of the gate, and he delivered. After averaging just 0.7 yards and 2.9 yards per carry in the first and second quarters to start the season, Cook averaged 2.2 and 4.0 yards per carry, respectively. In the second half, he averaged 7.3 yards and 1.9 yards per carry in the third and fourth quarters.

He declined to take any accolades for himself, instead praising the offensive line play for helping Minnesota move down the field.

"The o-line did an excellent job of opening up holes, giving us a chance to go make plays," Cook said. "You have to credit those guys up front for what they did all game. They came out and played a good game."

Rookie center Pat Elflein reaffirmed the emphasis on quick offense during the week's practices.

"We focused on practicing fast, getting in and out of the huddle, making efficient plays and doing it consistently," Elflein said. "I feel like we had a good week at practice, and I think that definitely transferred over to the game. Getting in and out of the huddle, going fast and all being on the same page.

"If we can give Case just a little bit of time or give Dalvin a sliver of an open hole, those guys can make plays," Elflein added. "We work hard so those guys can do what they do."

Sunday marked the third of three games in which Cook recorded at least one run of 25-plus yards. His longest surge of the day came late in the third quarter. On first-and-10 from the Bucs 36-yard line, Cook got free for 26 yards before being taken down by safety T.J. Ward.

His run put the Vikings at the 10, and the drive ultimately ended with Kai Forbath knocking through a 20-yard field goal.

Cook described the emotion of breaking through a seam for a big gain.

"It feels good, especially when you get 1-on-1 with the safety. That's the thing – we practice with [running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu] every day, getting 1-on-1 with the safety," Cook said. "So that's the number one goal, getting past that second level so you can get to the secondary where the safety is and make a play from there. It's all up to you."

Cook finished the game with 97 yards on 27 attempts. His 288 yards through Week 3 set a team record for most rookie rushing yards after three games, passing Adrian Peterson (271 yards in 2007).

Cook seemed almost surprised at the stat.

"I don't care too much about the statistics; I just like us getting that 'W.' But having that impact on the program is good," he said. "This season, man, it's been amazing. I haven't thought about [the record], really, because I just like to win. But it's amazing how all these guys have welcomed the rookies into the locker room.

"It's a great start," Cook later added. "It's a great start to a good season, an exciting season for us. It's a good start for everybody, and we just gotta keep going from here."

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