When running back Dalvin Cook was ruled out for the Minnesota Vikings’ matchup against Seattle in Week 3, it didn’t look good for Minnesota.
The Vikings would have to search for their first win of the season without their best playmaker, who was responsible for 30.7% of the offense’s total yards through two games, against the Seahawks. Seattle had won the last seven meetings between the two franchises.
Filling in for Cook would be third-year running back Alexander Mattison with two previous starts under his belt.
Now, Mattison has impressed at times. The 23-year-old has landed on highlight reels hurdling defenders on multiple occasions and averages 4.5 yards per carry over his career. Getting his second career start in Week 17 last season, Mattison racked up 145 total yards against Detroit. But that was the regular-season finale against the Lions, who had an interim head coach on the sidelines.
The last time Mattison was called upon to fill in the Cook role was Week 6 last season when he was held to 30 yards on 11 touches, and the Vikings didn’t score a point in the opening two quarters of a 40-23 loss to Atlanta.
On Sunday, though, Mattison answered the call.
While playing in 51 of Minnesota’s 75 offensive snaps (68%), the former Boise State star rushed 26 times for 112 yards (4.3 average) and was active in the screen game, adding six receptions for 59 yards (9.8 average).
Mattison’s time on the field was a bit lower but otherwise consistent with what the Vikings asked of their other RB1 the first two weeks -- 71% and 77%.
Ameer Abdullah, who was demoted to the practice squad early last week but called up for Sunday’s game, took the backup role and was on the field for 22 snaps (29%). Abdullah rushed five times for 24 yards.
Mattison’s performance had to instill confidence in the Vikings front office. Minnesota (1-2) can now be sure to wait until Cook is fully ready to return to the field instead of rushing their star back.
Other notes from Sunday’s snap counts:
-- Cameron Dantzler, who started 10 games at cornerback for the Vikings as a rookie last season, didn’t play a single snap on defense in Week 3. He appeared on the field nine times, all on special teams. Dantzler tweeted his frustration after the game but quickly deleted it.
-- Tight end Tyler Conklin played 72% of the snaps. For the second consecutive game, he was on the field more than third wide receiver K.J. Osborn (59%). He set career bests in targets (8), receptions (7) and receiving yards (70) while also scoring a seven-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
-- Cornerback Bashaud Breeland played every defensive snap despite continuing to struggle. According to Pro Football Focus, Breeland has allowed 18 catches for 257 yards and four touchdowns on 21 passes thrown in his coverage.
-- After missing last week, defensive end Everson Griffen returned and played a season-high 34 snaps (64%). He took down Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson for his first sack in a Vikings uniform since Week 14 of the 2019 campaign.
-- Ben Ellefson, who starred at Hawley High School and North Dakota State, played a career-high 30 snaps (40%) against Seattle. He’s been on the field more than Chris Herndon the past two games. Reminder: the Vikings traded a 2022 fourth-round pick to the New York Jets in exchange for Herndon and a 2022 sixth-rounder.