Bad news was ample for the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night, Oct. 11, when they suffered a heartbreaking loss at Seattle and running back Dalvin Cook was hurt. But at least they got some good news Monday.
Cook’s groin injury is not serious. An MRI on Monday confirmed that.
“It went pretty well,’’ said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. “So, we’ll see how he does this week.’’
Cook, who leads the NFL in rushing with 489 yards, might sit out Sunday’s game against Atlanta at U.S. Bank Stadium for precautionary reasons but he’s not expected to miss multiple games. After Sunday, the Vikings have a bye before they play Nov. 1 at Green Bay.
Cook was hurt on Minnesota’s first offensive play of the second half, grabbing his left thigh after he caught a screen pass. All he could do was watch as the Vikings lost 27-26 on Russell Wilson’s 6-yard touchdown pass to D.K. Metcalf on fourth-and-goal with 15 seconds remaining.
Alexander Mattison replaced Cook and ran for a career-high 112 yards on 20 carries. However, he got zero yards on his most important carry of the night.
With the Vikings leading 26-21 and facing fourth-and-1 at the Seattle 6, Zimmer elected to go for it on the first play after the two-minute warning rather than kick a chip-shot field goal for an eight-point lead. Zimmer reiterated Monday that he had no regrets about that decision.
“You don’t have time to ask analytics guys what to do,’’ Zimmer said. “In that situation, I’m always going for the win. I don’t care. We’ve done that many times and we’ll continue to do it.
“We had a half a yard to go and we’d been running the ball really well. I felt like their defense was tired and we had hit two other fourth downs earlier in the ball game. So, I’ll do it again the next time it comes up. If we’ve got a chance to win the game, you’ve got to go for it.’’
It ended up, though, as a loss that dropped the Vikings to 1-4. Only six other times in their 60-year history have they gotten off to a start that bad. They began 0-5 in 1962 and five other times started 1-4.
So how is team morale?
“I’ll find out more on Wednesday,’’ Zimmer said of Minnesota’s next day of practice. “We got in very late (Monday) morning and we’ll visit with them some more this week.’’
Minnesota’s players were unavailable Monday for comment. After Sunday’s game, there obviously was plenty of disappointment.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins said the Vikings all had a “sick feeling as we head back to Minnesota.’’ However, he did speak with optimism about moving forward.
“This isn’t our first rodeo, and we’ll approach it the same way we always have, just be professional and believe that tough times don’t last and tough people do,’’ Cousins said.
At least the Vikings face a team Sunday that has bigger issues than they do. Atlanta is 0-5, and on Sunday night fired head coach Dan Quinn. Raheem Morris was named Monday as his replacement.
And Minnesota’s young players are continuing to show improvement. The Vikings at Seattle started three rookies in cornerbacks Cameron Dantzler and Jeff Gladney and wide receiver Justin Jefferson and rookies D.J. Wonnum at defensive end and James Lynch at defensive tackle also got a number of snaps from scrimmage.
“We’re playing our butt off,’’ Zimmer said. “Some of these young guys are learning how to understand the difference between playing cautiously and playing aggressively and where you have to be on that.
“We had four rookies out there on some plays (Sunday) night on defense. But these young corners, they’re going to have to learn by being in these instances, being in these situations.’’
Wilson converted two fourth-down plays on the winning 94-yard drive. The other came on fourth-and-10 at the Seattle 23 when he threw a 39-yard pass to the Minnesota 38 to Metcalf, who leaped and caught the ball with Dantzler behind him.
Zimmer said Dantzler “misjudged the ball” and should have been “going up and getting it.’’ Still, Zimmer said he feels good about the futures of Dantzler and Gladney, who each played all 54 defensive snaps.
On offense, Zimmer lauded the play of Mattison, a second-year man. He doesn’t anticipate it being a big issue if he has to take over for Cook on Sunday as the starting running back.
“He’s been in that role before, so I don’t think that’ll change (the offense) at all,’’ Zimmer said.