Viking coach Mike Zimmer said he was told Sunday morning that running back Dalvin Cook would not be able to play in the late afternoon game against Seattle at US Bank Stadium due to his ankle injury. Backup driver Alexander Mattison said he found out about Cook “a little faster than everyone else,” though he did not provide an exact time frame.
Nevertheless, when the game started at. 15:25 Mattison knew what to do to replace Cook.
“He knew I did not need a pep talk or anything,” Mattison said of what Cook told him before the game. “He knew I was ready for the opportunity, and told me to just run with it.”
That’s exactly what Mattison did. In the Minnesota 30-17 victory over the Seahawks in front of a full house at the US Bank Stadium, Mattison carried 26 times to tie his career high with 112 yards rushing. He also caught six passes for 59 yards.
“He always runs hard,” Zimmer said. “He was given many opportunities. Alex is a good back. ”
Cook, who came in fourth on Sunday in the NFL rush with 192 yards in two games, was injured in the second half of the 34-33 loss to Arizona on Sept. 19, but remained in the game. He did not practice all week, but Zimmer maintained the hope that he would still be able to play.
Mattison’s previous 112-yard game came last season in October in Seattle when Cook was knocked out of the game on the first game of the second half with a groin injury. But that game did not end well with Mattison failing to convert on an important fourth-and-1 game, so the Seahawks won 27-26 on Russell Wilson’s 6-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf with 15 seconds left and scored on fourth and goals.
“We certainly owed it to them,” Mattison said of Sunday’s victory. “It was a bit of something throughout the match that I and (tackle Brian O’Neill) and the O-line in front, we had such a sense of revenge. It felt great to go out there and perform. ”
Mattison, in his third season, gave his offensive line credit on Sunday.
“It feels good when you are able to get the ball and be productive,” he said. “We love being productive as backs in this offense. Feels great. However, would not be able to do it without these guys in advance. ”
Mattison was more of a threat to receive than to run in the first half. During the break, he had five catches for 60 yards and eight rushes for 36 yards. But once the Vikings had a 21-17 lead at the break, they leaned stronger on the running game and Mattison had 18 carries in the second half in 76 yards.
Mattison’s reception in the first half helped set up the ability to keep the ball on the ground in the second half. Most notably, with Minnesota trailing 17-7 early in the second quarter, Mattison scored 23 yards on a screen pass on a drive the Vikings used to reduce the deficit to 17-14.
“Anytime you have a guy like Dalvin out, especially not just the type of player he’s on the field, but the leadership, his energy, it’s tough,” said veteran receiver Adam Thielen. “But (Mattison) is such a great guy to be able to get in there and fill (for) him, because he just has a good mindset. He’s just in there, he’s working. He does not speak. He gets the most out of it. So we had no worries about going into this game. ”
In the end, Mattison was proud to help make up for the absence of his good friend Cook, who is in his fifth season.
“He tells me I did exactly what he wanted to do, so it just made me proud to be that little brother in a way where I’m just there to learn from him, and that prepared me for this moment,” Said Mattison.
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