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Stats That Stood Out: Vikings-Packers in Week 8

The Vikings upset the Packers 28-22 on a blustery Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Dalvin Cook became the third Viking to score four total touchdowns in a game and totaled 226 yards from scrimmage, the second-most by a Minnesota player in a Border Battle.

A short-handed defense that also lost Cam Dantzler during the game made enough plays at key moments, and Minnesota built momentum in a third quarter for the first time in 2020. The best news of the day was a positive report on Dantzler.

Here are three stats that stood out:

1. Dalvin the difference maker

There was some consternation regarding whether the Vikings should commit to the multiyear deal that Cook signed the day before the season started, but the running back showed what a difference maker he can be multiple times throughout the game.

The most convincing display was on the screen pass that he turned into a 50-yard touchdown to put Minnesota up 28-14 with 5:52 left in the third quarter.

According to Next Gen Stats, Cook ran a total of 54 gridiron yards after catching the pass behind the line of scrimmage on a play that was expected to gain 22. The excess 32 yards gained after catch was the greatest of any player in Week 8 (excludes Monday's game). He covered 73.9 total yards by the time he sliced and diced through the Packers defense.

Cook also was superb on his 37-yard run to open the second half. Next Gen Stats determined the play was only supposed to gain a yard. The 36 yards beyond expectation were the second most in the NFL in Week 8's "Remarkable Rushes." Cook topped out at 19.9 miles per hour on the play for the 11th-fastest time by a ball carrier.

2. No shot necessary

With sustained winds listed at 23 mph and stronger gusts, the Vikings downfield passing game — or "shot" plays — off play-action was shelved.

Instead, Kirk Cousins took what was available and effectively avoided danger. He completed 11 of 14 passes for 160 yards with the score to Cook for a passer rating of 138.1. Cousins was one attempt shy of qualifying among Week 8 passers.

Conversely, Aaron Rodgers completed 27 of 41 passes for 291 yards with three scores and a passer rating of 110.9. Next Gen Stats calculated Rodgers' aggressive throw percentage at 24.4 percent, which was the second-highest of Week 2 and 9.9 percent points higher than his season average of 14.5 that ranks 26th.

Cousins' aggressive percentage on the season is 19.6, the fifth-highest in the NFL.

General reminder, a high aggressive percentage isn't always the most conducive to winning the game.

This passing chart contrasts the approaches taken by the Vikings, who led for almost all of the second half and never trailed by more than seven, and the Packers.


3. Rookies in action

A total of 19 different players played for the Vikings defense, including seven rookies.

Jeff Gladney led all first-year players as he was on the field for all 75 of Minnesota's defensive snaps.

D.J. Wonnum played 37, rotating in at defensive end, and had enough juice to strip sack Rodgers from behind on the final play for the only turnover of the game.

Harrison Hand (29) and Troy Dye (21) also logged significant action. Dantzler was injured on his 14th play. James Lynch played 11 snaps, and Josh Metellus was in for nine.

Add it all up, and that's 196 out of 825 possible snaps by rookies, including 107 by players who were picked on Day 3 of the 2020 NFL Draft.