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Trio of Playmakers Have Historic Day in Vikings Victory

The Vikings offense put up 410 total yards and gained 24 first downs Sunday on the way to Minnesota's first win of the 2020 season.

But the three numbers to remember were Vikings jersey Nos. 33, 19 and 18 — the trio of Vikings playmakers that were all over the field against the Texans.

Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson each recorded 100-plus yards in Week 4, and helped produce nearly 90 percent of Minnesota's total offensive output.

"To have two receivers go over 100 yards and to have a running back go over 100 yards, that's crazy," Jefferson said. "That's a scary sight, and really we just have to keep working on just going out there and executing our plays and making those big plays for the team."

Cook ran for 130 yards and a pair of scores and added a pair of receptions for 16 yards. Thielen produced his second 100-yard game of the season. He led all receivers with eight catches for 114 yards and caught a 9-yard score.

And Jefferson, a first-round rookie who earned his second straight start, had four catches for 103 yards. He went over the 100-yard mark for the second consecutive game, becoming the first Vikings rookie to do so since Stefon Diggs in 2015.

The showing put that trio in a dignified aura. The last time the Vikings had a pair of 100-yard receivers and a 100-yard rusher in the same game was back in 2000.

Hall of Fame wide receivers Randy Moss and Cris Carter helped reached that milestone, as did running back Robert Smith.

"Offensively, I was really pleased with how balanced we were," said Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. "Really similar to last week in that sense. Ran the ball throughout the entire game effectively and we were pretty efficient throwing the ball, it seemed.

"I was pleased also with the playmakers," Cousins added. "I thought Justin and Adam made plays … Dalvin made plays. It's just great to see players making plays and making things happen."

Cook's big game came against the league's worst run defense, as the Texans entered the game allowing 188.2 rushing yards per game. Minnesota ran for 162 yards in Week 4, with Cook doing the heavy lifting.

He tied his career high with 27 rushing attempts and also found the end zone for the fourth and fifth times of 2020.

View photos of RB Dalvin Cook's second touchdown during the Vikings-Texans game on Sunday at NRG Stadium.

Cook churned out tough yards all afternoon, and it wasn't more evident than in the second quarter when he bullied his way past a handful of Texans defenders to reach paydirt.

"It's called the striking zone. We're in the striking zone," Cook said of being inside the 10-yard line. "It's been costly down there for us not finishing drives. We harped on that all week … [Head] Coach [Mike] Zimmer did … [on] finishing drives.

"When you get in the red zone, score a touchdown. It's about me beating my guy and helping my team win a football game," Cook added. "At this point, we're scratching and clawing to try to win a football game."

Added Zimmer: "Dalvin's got great heart, great toughness and physicality, but he's a hard runner, and he's got really good balance."

Cook's usage helped the Vikings control the clock and keep the ball for 36-plus minutes, which was nearly a 15-minute improvement from the average of the first three games of the season.

His presence also helped open up the passing game, where Cousins took advantage with Thielen and Jefferson.

Of the 12 combined receptions from the pair, seven went for at least 18 yards. Thielen had the game's longest play with a 39-yard reception, and all four of Jefferson's catches went for at least 20 yards.

Jefferson's final two receptions came on third down, which helped the Vikings stay on the field and drain the clock. One of them was a back-shoulder throw from Cousins that picked up 25 yards.

"When we came off to the sideline after the drive, [backup quarterback] Sean Mannion said, 'You been working on back shoulders to Justin?' In other words, we don't have that time or years banked," Cousins said. "At some point, you've just got to play and believe he can do it. And after he adjusted, found the ball, made the catch, kept his feet in bounds and made the play, I looked at whoever I was with — Dalvin or Adam — as we were moving up the field and said, '18 can play. That's not easy to do.'

"Yeah, are we going to build trust over time? Yes, we're going to build trust. But some of the things we're doing, there is no trust," Cousins added. "It's just raw ability, and you're putting the ball out there hoping, believing that he's going to be able to make it happen."

Added Cook: "We know what Adam brings to the table … Jefferson has shown why we took him at [22nd overall pick]. That's a guy that can create some plays and some different matchups. He's taking a lot of pressure off Adam."

Jefferson's second strong start — and 100-yard day — came in front of a handful of family members who made the trip from Louisiana.

"It was great. It was phenomenal, and to see all the videos they sent me after the game, it was great," Jefferson said. "It was amazing, and just to come out here and show in front of them and to have over 100 yards for the first game [of them] watching me in the NFL."


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Zimmer said: "I thought Justin Jefferson made some outstanding catches."

With the Vikings now at 1-3, they still have a long way to go to recover from a rough first quarter of the season.

But through four games, it's clear the Vikings have a three-headed monster of playmakers on offense that can carry the unit on any given day.

"You have to string wins together. One game isn't going to do anything for us," Cousins said. "Certainly nice to get a win and get headed in the right direction. But each week is its own entity, and we've got to be able to string some together for it to mean something, and that's what's up ahead for us."

Added Jefferson: "To see all of the emotions in the locker room, to see all of the smiling faces in the locker room [was great]. First three weeks, everybody was droopy and we were coming out of the locker room with an L, so to finally come out with the W and to see everybody's excitement, it's great. I'm trying to get many more."