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Vikings Offense Rides Balanced Performance to Win Over Dolphins

MINNEAPOLIS — A look at the stat line Sunday afternoon showed the Vikings racked up 418 yards of total offense against the Dolphins, the sixth time this season Minnesota eclipsed the 400-yard mark.

The Vikings yardage total was just the fifth-best of the season, but what made it perhaps the most impressive output was the balance behind the 41-17 win.

Minnesota chewed up the turf at U.S. Bank Stadium to the tune of 220 rushing yards, the Vikings top total of the season. The Vikings offense also had 198 passing yards, quarterback Kirk Cousins' third-lowest total of the season.

With Vikings Interim Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski at the helm calling plays, Minnesota kept Miami off balance for the entire afternoon.

"It was simpler, but we definitely still had everything that we needed and again, Coach did a great job of keeping the defense on their heels," Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen said of the offense. "They didn't know if it was a run or pass.

"Obviously, he let the guys who were playing well and playing hot take over and carry our offense," Thielen added.

That would be Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, who racked up a career-high 136 rushing yards on 19 attempts against his hometown team. He also scored two rushing touchdowns in a game for the first time in his career, and had the first multi-touchdown game in his career.

Entering Sunday's game, the Vikings had been passing roughly two-thirds of the time on offense, with 574 pass attempts compared to 274 rushes through 13 games.

But Minnesota flipped the script against Miami, rushing 40 times while Cousins had a season-low 21 pass attempts.

"We just wanted to get back to playing how we know we can play. Just having fun," Cook said. "But you have to start by giving a shoutout to the O-line … they opened holes, I hit them and receivers making blocks downfield. All that leads to big plays."

Added Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph: "This was a big one for us, to come home and re-establish what our identity is as a football team as an offense. We want to be a physical, run-first team that takes advantage of play action. I thought we did that well today."

The Vikings had a season-high 220 total rushing yards, as running back Latavius Murray had 68 yards on 15 carries, including an 18-yard scoring run.

Cousins also spread the wealth through the air, as no Vikings player had more than four catches. Minnesota's leading receiver was rookie tight end Tyler Conklin, who had 53 yards on two catches.

Conklin's biggest play came late in the third quarter on third-and-1 from the Vikings 36-yard line. Stefanski called a play-action fake that left Conklin all alone for a 33-yard gain on a drive that eventually led to a field goal.

"It was a great call, something that we had practiced all week. It ended up working out perfect. It was wide open," Conklin said. "It helps a ton that we ran the ball so well today. The offensive line played offense, Cook ran his tail off … when you run for 200-plus yards, it's easy to run play action."

Stefon Diggs had four catches for 49 yards and a touchdown, while Rudolph had three receptions for 23 yards. Aldrick Robinson had two catches for 44 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown, and Thielen had two catches for 19 yards.

Cook added a catch for 27 yards early in the game as seemingly everyone touched the pigskin for the Vikings.

"We're still chipping away," Diggs said. "But as far as getting wins and putting 40 points on the board, it's excellent.

"Our running back was going crazy, and our O-line was blocking and our quarterback was balling," Diggs added. "I'm excited for the things to come."

Players also noted how much they thought going up-tempo at times helped the offense.

The Vikings constantly got lined up quickly and were ready on the ball, not giving Miami time to set up and adjust.

"Yeah, it got them off balance," Cook said. "We knew that they try to do a lot of communication and get a lot of guys lined up. We knew if we could get on the ball, and get the jump on them we could have some big plays out there."

Added Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer: "We got up there on the ball and went fast. We got up there a couple times, and we had passes killed to runs, and runs killed to passes. We got up there and just snapped the ball and didn't really care what they're in. The flow kind of helped that way … If you have 215 plays, you can't call them all, anyways, so that is part of it."

Minnesota racked up six plays of 20-plus yards against the Dolphins, including a pair of touchdown plays.

View game action images as the Vikings take on the Miami Dolphins at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday.

The Vikings moved to 7-6-1 with the win and would be a Wild Card team if the season ended today.

Minnesota cannot secure a third NFC North title in four years, though, because Chicago clinched the division Sunday.

After a Week 15 performance, the Vikings offense is trending in the right direction as the postseason looms.

"We realized early in the week that it was time to stop talking and time to start doing," Rudolph said. "Kevin did an unbelievable job of creating a plan that allowed us to go out there and let our ability take over.

"He got everyone involved; every playmaker on offense was out there making plays for us," Rudolph added. "When you run the ball for over 200 yards and have over 400 yards of offense, it makes things fun."

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