Dalvin Cook authors masterpiece performance in Minnesota Vikings' victory over Detroit Lions

MINNEAPOLIS -- Dalvin Cook overtook the NFL's rushing lead and put together another career day in the Minnesota Vikings' 34-20 win over the Detroit Lions.

The day held special meaning for the fourth-year running back to do it in front of a future Hall of Famer and the player he replaced in Minnesota after he was drafted in the second round in 2017.

With Adrian Peterson on hand, Cook rushed for 206 yards -- a career high -- and two touchdowns on 22 carries and caught two passes for 46 yards, setting a personal best for scrimmage yards with 252. Cook reached his previous career high (226 yards) last week in a win over Green Bay.

"It means a lot to me," Cook said of having Peterson present on his milestone day. "A guy that has done it before me and was in the same shoes I was in, just a few years ago. It means a lot. When I got drafted, I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. I thought I was going to be a guy that just came in and played behind Adrian. But they drafted me to come play right away, and I had to be ready. I was just a kid; didn't know. Just to be playing on the field with Adrian, it's always a blessing for me to soak that up, every time."

Last week, Peterson called Cook "a lethal weapon," a compliment the Vikings' star has embodied in back-to-back wins for a Minnesota team (3-5) that is suddenly inching closer to being in the hunt for one of the last playoff spots in the NFC.

"Lethal weapon, yeah that made me feel great," Cook said. "Like I said, I can't say enough about him. We can sit here and I can tell you so much about him, how I feel about him. I'm just, if he hear this or he don't, I'm just glad that I got a chance to watch him growing up as a young kid. To see that, it was something special for me. He don't know how he impacted my career as far as a running back. I appreciate him for everything. Just for being my big brother for anything. All Day, just keep doing you, man, and I appreciate it."

Despite having missed 1½ games after injuring his groin in Seattle in Week 5, Cook now leads the NFL in rushing with 858 yards and a league-best 12 rushing TDs. In his past two games, the running back has amassed 478 scrimmage yards and six total TDs, the fourth player ever to reach that feat in a two-game span.

Cook's performance in Week 9 was filled with plenty of highlight-reel plays. Some, like the 70-yard touchdown run he broke off in the fourth quarter, held noteworthy statistical value. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the expected rushing yards on that TD was 7 yards, meaning Cook had 63 rushing yards over expectation. It's the fourth time this season in which the Vikings' back has posted at least 30 rushing yards over expected on an attempt this season. As it stands, no player has more than two such runs this season (Miles Sanders and Sony Michel each have two).

"I think the most impressive run for me, among several, was the flip," quarterback Kirk Cousins said. "We pitched it out to him late in the game with a corner blitz. And he made the corner miss and was able to dart up the field for a big gain. That play was not looking good with that corner blitz. But when you have a great player like that that can make somebody miss, it turned into a big gain and that says a lot about Dalvin and his ability."

Others won't show up on the stat sheet but held equal importance to the success of the Vikings' offense. On Irv Smith's second touchdown, Cook picked up a critical block as the tight end came across the formation to give Cousins the space to find Smith in front of the end zone.

"Dalvin is a terrific player because it doesn't matter to him," coach Mike Zimmer said. "Obviously he wants to get 200 yards every week but he's going to do all the dirty work ... he's going to do everything. That's why he's a captain. That's why he comes to work every single day. He's a terrific leader, he's energetic and guys in the locker room really love him."