The Minnesota Vikings stuck with the same formula that led them to victory last week in Lambeau and ran all over the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon. Once again the number of running plays (34) exceeded the number of passing attempts (20) in their 34-20 victory.
We have yet to see how this style of play will fare against the more explosive offenses in an increasingly pass-happy league. Eventually, the Vikings will have to throw more and stretch the field, but on Sunday they won by two scores in a game that was not as close as the final score would indicate.
Here are five numbers that better illustrate the Vikings dominance over the Lions:
Dalvin Cook provided an incredible encore to his record-breaking performance last week against the Green Bay Packers. He finished with 206 yards rushing and two scores, which included a 70-yard score to give the Vikings a 34-13 lead.
Perhaps the most impressive statistic from Cook’s monstrous day was the fact that 166 of his 206 yards came after contact. That’s 80.58 percent for those of you keeping score at home.
Cook continues to prove just how elusive he is every week. He broke another six tackles by Lions defenders, putting him at 35 total halfway through the season.
I could probably write five stats solely on Cook based on the way he has performed these last few weeks, but I promise that this is my final one.
Cook totaled 252 yards from scrimmage — 206 on the ground and 46 through the air — meaning he was the Vikings second-leading receiver. You’ll remember the 2-yard pass he caught on 3rd and 10 where he left Jamie Collins in the dust and got up field for 29 yards.
Though his receiving was very impressive, I would like to highlight that Cook averaged 9.4 yards per carry. Without Cook the Vikings offense looks completely desolate — remember the Atlanta Falcons game?
Cook’s running also bodes well for the offensive line, which excels at run-blocking and has more trouble in pass protection.
The 70-yard touchdown run inflated this stat, but in the second half the Lions came out of the locker room more committed to stopping the run.
The Vikings offensive line did not give up a single sack for the second week in a row.
Though you may remember Kirk Cousins getting dropped behind the line, it was on a Desmond Trufant blitz that the offensive line isn’t responsible for. This much-maligned unit has performed well these last two weeks, and they will need to protect Cousins at a similar level if the Vikings are to keep up the success.
It’s not just pass blocking, they are also opening up holes and getting to the second level in the run game. For example, rookie guard Ezra Cleveland made a key block on the second level to spring Cook loose into the open field on his 70-yard run.
It’s no secret that the Vikings defense has failed to create turnovers this year, and Cousins is second in the league with 10 interceptions, compounding the issue by making the defense have to defend a short field.
This Sunday was a completely different story. Cousins played yet another week of error-free football, and not a single throw he made was even remotely close to being intercepted. You couldn’t say the same about the Lions quarterbacks, who combined for three interceptions — Matt Stafford had two and Chase Daniel had one.
Both Kendricks and Wilson had an interception in the red zone off of Stafford. These turnovers saved the Vikings seven points each time and kept it from becoming a much closer game. Though it has only been two weeks, it is encouraging to see Minnesota winning the turnover battle in both games out of the bye.
Behind the offensive line, the secondary might be the Vikings’ most criticized unit. Many fans have been especially disappointed by it after seeing all the draft capital they spent on corners recently.
Everyone knew that the Vikings secondary was going into this game understaffed: They had lost Mike Hughes, Cameron Dantzler, Holton Hill and Mark Fields to injury. This put Jeff Gladney at the CB1 spot, and he did not disappoint.
Gladney only allowed 28 yards in coverage all game in his best game so far. Gladney not only impressed in pass coverage, but he also had seven tackles, including a tackle for loss. He figures to be an integral piece to this defense for this season and the future.