When Dalvin Cook’s night was done, he got a big hug on the field from Adrian Peterson.
Peterson is the past star running back for the Vikings and Cook is the present one. And judging from his performance Thursday night, Cook figures to continue to make Peterson proud.
Cook rushed for 98 yards and caught caught five passes for 73 yards as the Vikings defeated Peterson’s Washington Redskins 19-9 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“It meant a lot,’’ Cook said of meeting up with Peterson, 34. “He’s still going. He’s still got it. … He was one of the guys I watched when I was coming up, a special talent, and he’s still got it.’’
Peterson rushed for 76 yards and caught two passes for 27 yards. After the game, Cook said Peterson told him to “just keep it going.’’
“He’s the blueprint; that’s him,’’ Cook said of Peterson, who starred for the Vikings from 2007-16.
Cook’s big game, especially his receiving, came in handy on a night that the Vikings were without star wide receiver Adam Thielen because of a hamstring injury. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs also stepped up big with seven catches for 143 yards.
The Vikings (6-2) won their fourth straight game, but it hardly was a thing of beauty on a short week. The only touchdown of the game was Cook’s 4-yard run with seven seconds left in the first half that put Minnesota up for good at 13-6.
Other than that, there were lots of field goals. Dan Bailey had boots of 50, 29, 27 and 40 yards for the Vikings, and Dustin Hopkins had field goals of 21, 30 and 27 yards for the Redskins (1-7).
The game also featured Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and Redskins quarterback Case Keenum both facing their former teams. Cousins, who played for Washington from 2012-17, completed 23 of 26 passes for 285 yards.
“I thought he played outstanding,’’ said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
Keenum, who was with Minnesota in 2017 and threw the winning pass to Diggs in the “Minnesota Miracle” playoff win over the Saints in his previous U.S. Bank Stadium appearance, completed 12 of 16 passes for 130 yards. However, he was unable to play in the second half because of a concussion and was replaced by rookie Dwayne Haskins.
Peterson, who was not re-signed as a Minnesota free agent in 2017, was making his second trip back to U.S. Bank Stadium but first as a significant contributor for a team. He had just six carries for 18 yards in the 2017 opener for New Orleans.
“I thought Adrian ran the ball hard,’’ Zimmer said.
So did Cook. And Zimmer liked how he caught the ball on a night the Vikings didn’t have Thielen. Zimmer is hopeful Thielen will be back for the Nov. 3 game at Kansas City.
“Dalvin’s a great player,’’ Zimmer said. “He can do pretty much whatever he needs to do. We thought we had an opportunity to get some screens against them and that showed up a few times. That was one our goals to get some big plays on screens.
Although the Vikings rolled up 434 yards of total offense, it didn’t translate into a lot of points. But the defense held the Redskins to 216 yards and without a touchdown. That came on the heels of giving up a season-high 433 yards in last Sunday’s 42-30 win at Detroit.
“It’s good for defensive morale,’’ said Vikings defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo. “Coach Zim harped on we had to play better defense, and I think we did a great job.
Zimmer said he liked “the toughness of this football team.’’
What Zimmer didn’t like was the Vikings committing seven penalties for 74 yards. He also didn’t like how Minnesota’s pass defense looked in the first half against Keenum.
After Keenum was lost for the game, though, Haskins couldn’t do much. He completed just 3 of 5 passes for 33 yards, and the Redskins had 69 yards of offense in the second half.