The Bengals secured the football and emerged from the pile with a raucous reaction from the crowd, spurring the officials to call it a fumble on the field. Upon further review, it appears Cook was down, but there was not enough evidence to overturn the call.
Cook didn’t place any blame on the questionable call and chalked the fumble as his fault.
“When you’re in a hostile environment like that, you just can’t leave the game in the refs’ hands,” Cook said. “That’s part of being a pro, taking care of the football, being consistent at what I do. I wasn’t surprised. It was a 50/50 call. They made the call, and that’s what we gotta live with.”
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A ‘Bad Taste’
The play has left a “bad taste” in Cook’s mouth, which he looks to remedy this Sunday against a stingy Arizona Cardinals defense.
“I’m a pro man. I’ve been playing football since I was four years old. Just got to be better. You get the ball so many times. It’s valuable to take care of that football,” Cook said. “You know it’s like your world when you got it in your hands, so you know, I got to take care of it. I’m moving on. I’m ready to go get that bad taste out of the team off and go get a win.”
The Cardinals, stacking the defensive line with additional run support, held Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry, the defending NFL rushing leader, to eight rushing yards before halftime. The Titans run a similar scheme to the Vikings and did not fare well, falling 38-13 to the Cardinals.
“They loaded up the box,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “They want to be a single-high [safety] team for the most part, if they can. They’ll mix in a little bit of quarters (coverage) and two-deep (safeties), but they’re predominantly a single-high team that wants to get extra guys in the box, and they want to make you one-dimensional.”
“Every game is a big game. It’s Week 1. No sense of panic coming from us,” Cook said. “We got 16 more tries to do this thing. Everybody’s going to have their opinions of how this thing is gonna go from Week 1 and how it should go, but all that matters is the guys in the locker room and how we attack things from now on.”
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Vikings Offense Will Have to Mature Quickly
The Vikings offense dealt with its own first-half struggles, committing a slew of penalties that buried themselves behind the chains early and often. The Vikings had 12 penalties accepted against them for 116 yards, 10 of which came in the first half. Seven of those calls were on the offensive line.
Those miscues will need to be corrected quickly by the Vikings offense, the league’s youngest unit with an average age of 25. The group jelled in the second half of the Bengals loss and fought back to force overtime.
That speaks volumes to Cook.
“We couldn’t get in a rhythm. We averaged 3rd and 19 but you’ve seen a team that battled back from it. We had all those penalties, and we’re still right there in the game,” he said. “We clean all those things up and come out like we did in the second half… you seen the type of team we can be playing complementary football.
“I love this team — the way we battle. It’s just a lot of grit with this team, that we go out there and compete with anybody. Clean the little things up and we could be a special group.”