Top 10 in Vikings History? Dalvin Cook Had a Night.

Top 10 in Vikings History? Dalvin Cook Had a Night.
Dalvin Cook

Consider this perspective on Dalvin Cook’s outing in Week 14 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Even if he wasn’t battling two bad labrums, the Vikings tailback showcased a tale for the ages. Cook was feared injured for the remainder of the season, following a scary moment in Santa Clara during Week 12. Vikings fans, analysts, and media members just planned for Cook to miss the rest of the season, with teensy hopes he’d return for a hypothetical wildcard playoff game.

But Cook said no thanks to all of that.

As the emphatic vocal leader of the offense — and evidently owner of a bionic body — Cook pressed the noise about his pain tolerance or risk for re-injury aside, eviscerating the Pittsburgh Steelers defense for 222 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. And most of that Steeler defilement transpired in the 1st Half. This statistic made the rounds, capturing the gravity of Cook’s first two quarters.

That wasn’t all.

Cook’s 222 yards from scrimmage was a Top 10 performance in Vikings history. Here’s the purple pecking order.

  • 1. Adrian Peterson, 315 (2007)
  • 2. Chuck Foreman, 265 (1976)
  • 3. Anthony Carter, 257 (1987)
  • 4. Darrin Nelson, 256 (1983)
  • 5. Dalvin Cook, 252 (2020)
  • 6. Adrian Peterson, 233 (2007)
  • t7. Bill Brown, 226 (1964)
  • t7. Dalvin Cook, 226 (2020)
  • 9. Adrian Peterson, 225 (2008)
  • 10. Dalvin Cook, 222 (2021)

Astoundingly, there is just as much Dalvin Cook on that list as Adrian Peterson, which most fans likely wouldn’t believe at first glance. Somewhat quietly, despite injury, Cook has evolved into one of the best Vikings running backs in franchise history.

Moments like Thursday in Minneapolis advance the Cook folklore. When head coach Mike Zimmer proclaimed Cook day-to-day in the immediacy of his injury at San Francisco, onlookers perceived Minnesota’s skipper as a liar or sly strategist.

Well, he told the truth.

The Vikings win in Week 14 increased playoff probability for 2021 to 35%, which is a semi-big deal after botching a would-be win against the Detroit Lions four days before. Plus, sometimes it’s tempting to surmise “the Vikings will be fine without Cook,” but on Thursday Night Football, every smidgen of Dalvin Cook was necessary to beat the 6-5-1 Steelers. He was the engine of the offense, the inspiration to his peers, and the producers of yards and touchdowns, propelling the Vikings to a temporarily season-saving triumph.

And Cook’s night wasn’t a “standard” 100-yard game with a paydirt or two. His mastery in the 1st Half turned out to be absolutely necessary for victory as the Vikings defense — once again — decided it wasn’t up for the task of a four-quarter performance. In Quarters 1 and 2, Zimmer’s defense was vintage, flustering Mike Tomlin’s offense and flat-out forcing the Steelers to look like morons. However, on-brand for the 2021 Vikings, the defense let up on the gas pedal and nearly lost.

Now, Minnesota turns attention to the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football after, what will be, a mini-bye week. The Vikings have 10 days to rest, ensuring Cook can continue recovery. Perhaps wide receiver Adam Thielen will pull off a copycat maneuver of Cook’s blueprint.

The Vikings need it. They likely have to win three of the next four games to meet a team like the Green Bay Packers or Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wildcard round of the NFC playoffs.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).