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Vikings Offense Sputters Against 49ers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Vikings talked all week about how Saturday's playoff game was going to be a battle in the trenches.

That advantage went to the 49ers.

Minnesota's offense sputtered for most of a 27-10 loss to San Francisco in the Divisional round of the NFC Playoffs, as the Vikings managed just 147 total yards as they were seemingly under siege all afternoon.

"We had to go execute, and I think they executed better," said Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. "We all know they're a good team. They wouldn't have been here if they weren't a good team. They just executed better than us."

Added Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen: "It was a little bit of everything. They took it to us. They punched us in the mouth, and then we didn't help ourselves when there were plays there to be made."

Minnesota ranked sixth in the league with 133.3 rushing yards per game in the regular season, but ran the ball just 10 times for 21 total yards against the 49ers.

Cook, who rushed for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns in 14 regular-season games, managed 18 yards on nine attempts. Rookie Alexander Mattison gained three yards on his lone carry.

All in all, Cook tallied 1,654 total yards from scrimmage on 303 offensive touches in the regular season, good for nearly 5.5 yards per play. On Saturday, he had 15 touches for 26 total yards.

"This isn't about me," Cook said. "This is about a win, and we didn't get the win. It's not about me, at the end of the day.

"I like the wins, and we didn't get the win. I could have had 19 yards, and if we would have gotten the win, you all wouldn't be saying that," Cook added. "It's about winning the football game, and we didn't win today."

The 49ers especially bottled up the do-it-all running back in the passing game, where Cook had six receptions for just 8 yards.

Minnesota's inability to get the focal point of its offense going led to a poor performance.

"We knew it was a real physical group," said Vikings left guard Pat Elflein. "They built their defense around their front 7. We got beat today. We got beat.

"Came out, and they were making plays and we weren't making plays," Elflein added. "We couldn't get into a rhythm on offense. That's kind of what makes us work."

Added Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins: "Yeah, we struggled to run it effectively, and that made it tough."

Cousins completed 21 of 29 passes (72.4 percent) for 172 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His passer rating was 84.3. Cousins also was sacked six times, which tied a season high.

Cousins' touchdown pass came on a 41-yard shot to Stefon Diggs that knotted the game at 7-7 late in the first quarter.

Minnesota also struggled on third downs, as the offense converted just twice on 12 attempts. The 16.7-percent success rate was a season worst.

"I felt like they did a good job on the bootlegs, playing those, and stopped the run," Cousins said. "And then we didn't convert third downs. That was really the thing. Just needed to hit a few more third-down conversions to stay on the field."

Overall, the Vikings total tally of 147 yards was their second-lowest total in 18 total games this season.

Diggs led the Vikings with 57 yards on a pair of catches, and Thielen had five receptions for 50 yards. Rookie tight end Irv Smith, Jr., had three catches for 39 yards, and Kyle Rudolph had two receptions for four yards.

"Obviously, we prepare and work our tails off, and to have that result, it sucks," Thielen said. "It's never fun, never easy, but we have to go back to work and try to figure it out."

Diggs added: "You can take away that we lost and have a lot to learn from. It was a long year, hard-fought battles all year."

The Vikings saw their season end in Northern California. And even though it ended earlier than Minnesota wanted it to, there was still plenty of pride in the Vikings locker room.

"I love this team, love the guys in this locker room, love the way everybody fought week-in and week-out," Thielen said. "We have a lot of fighters on this team, and I love going to work with these guys.

"That's probably the toughest thing about this loss," Thielen added, "is that these guys deserve it."

Added Elflein: "Throughout this whole locker room, it's just a bunch of fighters. We've been through ups and downs and close games. People counted us out, and we just kept fighting. We just came up short today."

Said Zimmer: "I know I'm proud of this football team, the way that they competed and worked and did all the things that they had to do throughout the course of this year. It's unfortunate we didn't play better today."

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