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Mike Boone Steps In, Scores 2 TDs in 'Outstanding' Performance for Vikings

Mike Boone took the handoff near the 13-yard line and slithered through a narrow lane and into the end zone.

The Vikings running back was met in the blue paint immediately by teammates Irv Smith, Jr., and left guard Pat Elflein, who helped create just enough space for Boone to make something happen.

"First things first – great job by the offensive line," Boone told reporters following the game. "They opened everything up, and the hole's there, and the rest is what running backs do – just hit it and go."

The fourth-quarter touchdown gave the Vikings a comfortable 22-point lead over the Chargers with 10 minutes left in the game.

"That whole drive … we were preaching, 'Put it away. Punch it in, punch it in,' " Boone said.

And less than a minute after scoring his first NFL touchdown, he scored his second.

Chargers tight end Hunter Henry fumbled (one of seven turnovers by Los Angeles on the day), and Trae Waynes recovered the football to return possession to Minnesota.

Boone ran for gains of 3, 5 and 2 yards, getting into the end zone again to seal the Vikings 39-10 road win.

Entering Sunday's game, Boone had contributed mainly on special teams, having just eight carries for 41 yards on offense through 13 games.

But when starting running Dalvin Cook left the game with a shoulder injury, Boone stepped in and showed up to lead Minnesota with 56 rushing yards on 13 carries. The Vikings were also without rookie back Alexander Mattison, who missed Sunday's game with an ankle injury.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer spoke with media members following the 39-10 and praised Boone's afternoon.

"I thought Boone ran really hard, really well," Zimmer said. "We knew that he was a really good runner from what he's done in the preseason and what we've seen in practice. And he's kind of had a chip on his shoulder; he wants to get out there and prove his point, that he can go out and run and be that type of back, as well."

Boone initially signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in April of 2018. The Florida native appeared in eight games during his rookie campaign and showed enough in those games and throughout the 2019 offseason and training camp to retain a position in Minnesota's running back room.

And while fans haven't seen much of Boone on offense during the regular season, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins reminded reporters that the 24-year-old's performance on Sunday shouldn't come as a surprise.

"He was outstanding. I can't say enough about Mike. You guys saw it in the preseason," Cousins said. "He just hasn't gotten enough cracks at it because you have Dalvin Cook and you have Alex Mattison. The nature of the NFL is there are some really good football players who may not get as many opportunities as others, and you have to make the most of those that you get. Mike has done that, and I think people around the league have taken notice.

Added Cousins: "He's going to be a good back in this league for a long time if he stays at it, because he has all the ability."

Boone helped the Vikings surpass 100 yards on the ground for the 10th time this season. In total, nine separate players recorded a rushing attempt for Minnesota.

Similar to Cousins, C.J. Ham emphasized confidence in his teammates.

"I've said this from the beginning of the year – in our room, no matter who's in the game, we know that they're going to be explosive players," Ham said. "Boone has showed that all throughout the preseason, and every single chance he gets, the makes the most of it."

Boone acknowledged the loss of Cook while accepting accolades for his outing.

"You hate to see anybody go down. Us being as tight as we are as running backs, you hate to see that. But that's the game we play; it happens," he said. "It's great to see hard work being rewarded, but it's far from over. You've gotta come back in and start it over, try to do the same thing again next week."

Next up for the Vikings will be hosting the Packers for a Monday Night Football showdown on Dec. 23, followed by a Week 17 game against the Bears on Dec. 29.

View game action images as the Vikings take on the Chargers on Sunday.

Zimmer did not provide an update on Cook's health and said, "I have no idea" when asked if the injury will affect the standout running back long-term.

But either way, Boone will be ready to go if needed.

"For sure. I trust [Vikings running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu] will prepare us, make sure we're very prepared," he said. "And if that's how it was to happen, I feel like any one of us could step up and play that role."