Ground and pound was what the Vikings did on Sunday against the Falcons. Minnesota rushed for 172 yards, including 111 yards from RB Dalvin Cook and two touchdowns to defeat Atlanta 28-12 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“It was a great start. It was good to set the pace for the season,” Cook said. “The offensive line was moving people upfront. We got it going early. The defense kind of sparked this thing, and we took care of business by punching the ball in which got the momentum going. It was definitely a good start for the season, and something we can build on. There are still more yards on the field that we can get by cleaning up the little things.”
The Vikings running game was so effective with Cook and Alexander Mattison(9 carries, 49 yards) that their QB Kirk Cousins only had to throw the ball 10 times against the Falcons, and defensively, the Vikings were able to force three turnovers against Atlanta. According to Cook, running the ball and playing big-time defense is what makes head coach Mike Zimmer happy.
“That is our identity. Everybody knows Coach Zimmer wants to run the football and play great defense,” Cook said. “Like I said earlier, they played great defense and set the tone for us today. We were able to piggy-back off of their energy and got this thing rolling.”
Many believe that Cook, who had touchdown runs of 7 and 19 yards, could have a breakout season in 2019, and Cook believes that whenever he is in the game, great things can happen for the team.
“I have been practicing and working very hard,” he said. “It’s just football. Whenever I am on the field, a lot of special things can happen. I just got to stay on the field to help the team that’s the most important thing. Being out here with these guys is fun. We worked extremely hard this offseason and training camp to have days like these.”
The Vikings are off to a good start. Obviously, the next 15 games won’t be like this, but Minnesota has to be happy with what they saw out of Cook and the running game in Week 1.