MINNEAPOLIS —Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has encountered this a time or 32 before.
Rookie running back Dalvin Cook suffered a non-contact knee injury in the third quarter and lost the ball after a hit by safety Tavon Wilson.
Minnesota lost to Detroit 14-7 and is concerned about Cook's anterior cruciate ligament.
"We're concerned about his ACL, but he's going to get an MRI in the morning, and we'll find out," Zimmer said.
The fourth-year head coach provided **encouraging words** to Cook, who entered Week 4 ranked third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage and second in rushing yards.
Zimmer was asked about how prepared he and the Vikings will be if Cook is lost for an extended period of time given past adversity.
"Unfortunately, I'm getting used to it," Zimmer said.
He would know.
In 52 games under Zimmer, the Vikings have started a running back that wasn't the opening-day starter in 32 games.
Minnesota also has opened 32 games in that span without the first-team quarterback, including each of the past three games.
That calculation includes 2014 when Matt Cassel was lost for the season in Week 3, and Stefon Diggs started 12 of 13 games. Christian Ponder also started one game that season, and running back Adrian Peterson missed 15 of 16 games.
Bridgewater and Peterson opened all 16 games of 2015 together, and the Vikings went 11-5 and won the NFC North.
In 2016, Bridgewater suffered a season-ending non-contact injury on the team's final practice of the preseason, and Peterson suffered a torn meniscus in Week 2 and wound up playing one more game in Purple last December.
Kyle Rudolph started 15 games last season and dazzled in Week 1 of this year but has been unable to play since. Case Keenum stepped in for Bradford in Week 2 at Pittsburgh and threw for a career-best 369 yards against Tampa Bay in Week 3 but had some **plays he wanted back*** *on Sunday against Detroit.
Latavius Murray, Jerick McKinnon and C.J. Ham filled in after Cook left.
Cook had 66 yards on 13 carries. Murray had 21 yards on seven attempts, and McKinnon netted zero yards on a pair of carries.
Fumbles sway momentum
Momentum shifted Sunday when Minnesota fumbled on consecutive offensive plays in the third quarter.
The Vikings opted to go to the Wildcat formation on their third play of the third quarter, a second-and-6 from the Minnesota 47.
McKinnon had the ball on a read option, faked a handoff to Cook and pulled the ball back, but lost it before he tucked it away. It was the first fumble of McKinnon's career. He had 442 carries in a row without losing the ball, which is the second-longest streak in Vikings history (Robert Smith, 532).
"I saw it happen, but I don't have time to look up at the replay when the defense is going back out there," Zimmer said.
Anthony Zettel recovered the ball at the 47, and Detroit added its second field goal of the day by Matt Prater to come within one with 10:41 left in the period.
Cook suffered the injury on the Vikings next snap, and Tahir Whitehead recovered the ball at the Minnesota 29.
The Lions scored their only touchdown, a 3-yard run by Ameer Abdullah five plays later, and successfully executed a two-point conversion, going up 14-7 with 8:00 left in the quarter.
Neither team scored in the final 23 minutes of play.
Stefon Diggs recorded 98 yards on five receptions, pushing his season total to 391, which ranks fourth-best in franchise history through the first four games of a season.
Diggs also became the ninth Vikings player to have 2,000 or more receiving yards in his first three seasons. The 2015 fifth-round pick has 2,104 yards.
He needs 43 to pass Cris Carter for eighth and 108 to pass Ahmad Rashad, who was inducted to the Vikings Ring of Honor during halftime.
Adam Thielen added 59 yards on five catches Sunday, pushing his four-game total to 348 yards, which is 10th-most in franchise history.
Six sacks of Stafford
The Vikings defense pressured Matthew Stafford and dropped him for losses a total of six times.
Danielle Hunter led the way with his first two sacks of 2017. It was the third game of his three-year career with 2.0 sacks in a game.
Hunter became the ninth Viking to have at least 20 (20.5) sacks in his first three seasons with the team. He is one behind Doug Martin and 1.5 behind Hall of Famer John Randle.
Linval Joseph, Eric Kendricks and Everson Griffen each recorded sacks, and another — after Stafford fumbled without contact — went to the team.