MINNEAPOLIS — Three rushing touchdowns and a stout defense keyed the Minnesota Vikings to a 34-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, Sept. 22, at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Dalvin Cook continued to prove he is the team's offensive MVP, racking up 143 all-purpose yards (110 rushing, with 33 yards on four catches). Rookie Alexander Mattison added a high-flying leap for a score, and receiver Adam Thielen punched the ball in from a yard out on a sweep play.
With his big game, Cook became the first Viking to top 100 yards rushing in the first three games of the season since Chuck Foreman did it in 1975.
"He doesn't need a lot of space because he's really good at slithering through holes," Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said. "Maybe the most impressive thing with him is toughness in the tackles. He doesn't ever want to go down, but he's a physical runner with great speed and home run ability."
It was all part of a 211-yard rushing effort, a season high for a team working to be a run-focused offense.
"We didn't have a whole lot of opportunity, but that's a good thing when we're controlling the ball," Thielen said. "That is our strength. We can play off that and its going to open up things in the passing game."
Quarterback Kirk Cousins kept the Raiders defense honest by connecting with six different receivers for 174 yards. His lone touchdown pass on the day came on a play-action pass to Thielen on the game's opening drive.
"If you fall behind this team early, they have the closers that make it very difficult on you (to catch up)," Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said.
The defense held strong when it mattered, coming up with four sacks and holding Oakland to three third-down conversions on 11 tries. Oakland's only points in the red zone came on a late drive with the game well in hand.
"I think it definitely helped to have the offense start off by establishing the run and starting that momentum," safety Anthony Harris said. "As a team, the offense set the tone early for us by getting out to a fast start. As a defense, we tried to come out and keep that pace."
Minnesota (2-1) will travel to Chicago to play the Bears next Sunday.