Wed, Sep 13, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Cook steals show to spoil Peterson’s return


Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, center, carries the ball against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter of their NFL game at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Monday.

Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA Today

The season-opening spotlight on Monday was supposed to be on longtime Vikings star Adrian Peterson’s return to Minnesota, but rookie running back Dalvin Cook stole the show with an explosive performance.

The 22-year-old looked like a seasoned veteran in his National Football League debut as he rushed 22 times for 127 yards in the Vikings 29-19 win over the New Orleans Saints in the first game of the regular season for both teams.

“You can’t say enough about him,” Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford said of Cook. “He is a great player. I expect him to only get better.”

That spoiled the return of running back Peterson, who joined the Saints as a free agent in the off-season.

With former league Most Valuable Player Peterson sitting on the sidelines for much of his New Orleans debut, Cook seized command as his 127 yards was 24 more than Peterson’s debut and almost double what Peterson gained last season in Minnesota.

The knock on Cook heading into the season was his inexperience as a pass protector and a tendency to fumble, but the second-round draft pick showed none of that in front of a crowd of 66,000 at US Bank Stadium.

Peterson spent his first 10 seasons with the Vikings, but is now a complimentary player in New Orleans. After getting the first two carries of the game, for last year’s No. 1 offense, Peterson went silent. He finished with just six carries for 18 yards.

“It was a little different, but once I got out there it was more fun,” Peterson said. “I wish I could have gotten more snaps, but it was interesting going up against those guys.”

“We stopped him and didn’t let him get going,” Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen said.

Bradford threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns, while wide receiver Stefon Diggs scored two touchdown receptions in the first half.

Bradford completed 27 of 32 passes with no turnovers.

Adam Thielen caught nine passes for 157 yards, while tight end Kyle Rudolph added a touchdown reception for Minnesota.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees was 27 of 37 for 291 yards and one touchdown.

The Saints kicked field goals before Brees connected with tight end Coby Fleener for an eight-yard touchdown with 1 minute, 56 seconds left in the game.

New Orleans finished with 344 yards of offense.

“Obviously, we settled for too many field goals offensively and then all of the sudden got into catch-up mode,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “I thought early on, defensively, we did some good things and then there was a series that breaks it open in the second quarter. I felt like when we got into the second half, we were having trouble stopping much of anything.”

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