When Alexander Mattison jogged to the sideline following a series by the Vikings offense during Sunday's 30-17 win over Seattle, running back Dalvin Cook didn't really need to dispense advice to the man he calls "deuce," or the "two" in what Cook likes to consider a one-two punch out of the Vikings backfield.
Against the Seahawks, it was all Mattison with a career-high 171 yards from scrimmage while replacing Cook, who was sidelined by a sprained right ankle. For most of his 32 touches, Mattison said, Cook simply told him he was doing exactly what Cook would do.
"That just made me proud to kind of be that little brother in a sense," Mattison said. "Where I'm just there and trying to learn from him, and it prepared me for this moment. Being behind him these past couple years, it's been a huge blessing for me and my game."
Coordinator Klint Kubiak called the offense as if he had Cook, the centerpiece of the Vikings' attack, by opening the game with a pitch to Mattison for 7 yards followed by a screen to Mattison for another 20 yards. Then quarterback Kirk Cousins completed his first five throws for 62 yards and a touchdown.
The offense ran through the backfield, just with Mattison instead of Cook.
"He got many opportunities," head coach Mike Zimmer said. "Alex is a good back. He's good in protection. He does a nice job in the run game, but the offensive line deserves a lot of credit, as well."
Right tackle Brian O'Neill and Mattison reveled in the opportunity to get revenge for the last of the Vikings' seven straight losses to Seattle. Last year, the Vikings lost by one point in Seattle after Mattison missed a hole on a key fourth down.
That stuck with the offense.
"Me and [O'Neill] and the O-line up front, we kind of just understood," Mattison said. "It kind of had that little vengeance feel to it."
Revenge was sweet, especially as Cousins and Mattison kept Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on the sideline for much of the second half. Mattison personally ran for four first downs after halftime while the Vikings offense strung together drives lasting 11, 12 and 16 plays.
Minnesota held possession for 22 minutes, 40 seconds of the 30-minute second half, leaving linebacker Eric Kendricks to watch much of the ending from the sideline.
"That's huge," Kendricks said. "That's how our offense is built. Shout out to Matty for stepping up today, and the offensive line for getting it done."
It's unclear when Cook will return from the ankle injury suffered Sept. 19 in Arizona, but perhaps Mattison showed enough to earn more of a role behind Cook. This may be one of the only times he feels the physical burden of 32 touches, which led him hobbled to the sideline in the second half. The Fox TV broadcast showed Mattison getting his calf massaged by trainers.
"Feels a little tough right now, but it's one of those things I love about the game," Mattison said. "Feel every single one of those reps, but they all paid off and we were able to come out with a victory, so that's all that matters."