GREEN BAY, Wisc. – Dalvin Cook was off to the races at Green Bay.
The running back showed his wheels seemingly all game long, starting with a highlight-reel play in the second quarter.
After a disastrous first quarter in which the Packers built a 21-point lead over the Vikings, Minnesota had first-and-10 at its own 25. After an incompletion, quarterback Kirk Cousins handed off to Cook on second down, and No. 33 was gone.
Cook picked up speed and yards simultaneously, making it all the way to the end zone to put the Vikings on the board with a career-long 75-yard touchdown.
The play shifted momentum but the Vikings were unable to prevail in a 21-16 loss.
"Eventually one of us is going to make a play," he said. "We've got guys that can make plays at any moment of the game, and eventually one of us was going to make a play to get this thing rolling. It was just me that made the play."
Even after being down three scores – and two after Cook's touchdown – the Vikings showed a commitment to the run. When all was said and done, the team racked up 198 rushing yards on 27 attempts.
Cook led all players with 154 yards on 20 rushes for an average of 7.7 yards per carry. He also added 37 yards on three receptions.
Dakota Dozier, who started at left guard in place of an injured Pat Elflein, said the offensive line takes pride in being able to move the sticks on the ground.
"Even if we're down, we're going to do the best we can to run it," Dozier said. "And even when we were down, we proved that we can run the ball."
Right tackle Brian O'Neill echoed Dozier but emphasized the disappointment of falling short in the Border Battle.
"I appreciate [the commitment to the run]. I appreciate them believing in us, and that's all I can ask for," O'Neill said. "But we have to give them more than we did."
Throughout the game, penalties played a factor for Minnesota.
Late in the second quarter and after a 61-yard catch-and-run by receiver Chad Beebe, Cousins found Stefon Diggs for a 3-yard touchdown. The score was nullified, however, when Cook was flagged for offensive pass interference.
The Vikings were unable to get back into the end zone on the drive and instead settled for a 31-yard field goal by Dan Bailey.
Following the game, Cook said he was unable to respond to a question about the penalty.
"I don't know. I can't tell you. I didn't even know it was on me, to be real," Cook said. "I don't know."
Diggs shared his perspective on the play:
"On the replay I saw he got pushed initially, and he made contact with the second defender. I ain't the ref, and I don't call the flags. I have to look at the rulebook. They didn't say [anything]. We just have to eat it."
Pass interference on the offense or defense is reviewable — and addable even if it is not called on the field because of a rule change this year.
NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riverson said in a pool report that the review was automatically done because it was a scoring play.
"After we looked at the play, we saw clear and obvious visual evidence that No. 33 significantly hinders the opponent while the ball is still in the air," Riveron said. "Therefore, we negate the score and call offensive pass interference here from New York and penalize them 10 yards."
Cook later added that it's imperative to "clean up the little things" this week in practice heading into next Sunday's home game against Oakland.
"Penalties hurt us a lot today. Just self-inflicted wounds that hurt us today," Cook said. "When you come into an environment like this, you've gotta limit those things. We didn't limit them as much as we should. That's the thing – we have to go back and look ourselves in the mirror and say, 'We have to clean those things up.' I think this week in practice, we should emphasize that a lot on the offensive side."
View images as the Vikings take on the Packers at Lambeau Field during Week 2.
Cook was complemented by running back Alexander Mattison, who had four carries for 25 yards.
"It feels good to go out there and have some success in the run game, but we didn't get the win," Mattison said. "As long as we can continue to have that success and then put it together with the victory, that will do some good things for the team."
The Vikings used their running backs often in the fourth quarter, accruing 43 rushing yards on a late-game drive – but the effort wasn't enough to get the job done.
Minnesota got within 8 yards of the end zone, but a pass play on first down resulted in an interception by Packers cornerback Kevin King.
Cook did not speak down on the choice to throw the ball in that situation.
"That's the play call. We live with every play call that [Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski] calls," Cook said. "We've got a great play caller on our side, and whatever he calls, we're trying to execute it to a high level."
The third-year running back finished with an impressive 154 yards on 20 carries but didn't get what he most cared about, which was a Vikings win.
"You play the game to win. As a competitor, you play this thing to win football games and compete your tail off," Cook said. "That's the ultimate goal."
Added Dozier: "You can run the ball great, but there's still that taste of defeat."