Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook help Minnesota Vikings right ship

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen sat shoulder to shoulder after Sunday's game, the picture of the Minnesota Vikings' kumbaya afternoon.

The two receivers had spent part of the day celebrating together, and nobody was complaining about the Vikings' offense Sunday, which is generally what happens when you shred one of the NFL's worst defenses for 490 yards and a 28-10 victory. Thielen wasn't worried about whether Kirk Cousins was throwing the ball, not after catching seven passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns against the New York Giants. Cousins wasn't apologizing to Thielen, not after completing 22 of 27 pass attempts for 306 yards, the most since last Nov. 25th. Certainly, nobody could complain about how much the Vikings ran the ball, not after Dalvin Cook rushed for 132 yards and was also the second-leading receiver with 86 yards on six catches.

And even Diggs, who was so frustrated by the team's offense that he missed meetings and practice this week, incurring $200,000 in fines, and was reported to want a trade because of his diminished role so far this season, insisted all is well again.

"Yeah I want to be in Minnesota," he said. When asked if everything was good between him and the team again, he responded, "It was never 'not good.' Outside people got things a little shaky, but at this point, I'm a team guy. I'm here and I want to win."

Diggs said he could be happy with his current role, which certainly isn't much of a role at all. He was targeted four times and caught three passes for 44 yards.

"We've got a lot of horses in the stable and a lot of guys can have success, so as far as doing my part, it's going to be huge and doing whatever they ask me to do at this point, as far as team success and driving that," he said. "Because, you know, Dalvin can break it at any given time. So, just don't want to be out there and caught lagging when he's trying to break a long one.

"It's part of football, especially at this point, you want to have success and you want to win and we had an unbelievable win today especially trying to dominate. Kirk played lights out. Our O-line, they did their best to play clean, and we were moving the ball, so as far as having individual success is part of the team success, so, do your part."

He even said he was fine with the fines. Diggs said he was sick, which is why he was not with the team for parts of last week.

"I'm willing to accept every penalty and the consequences that comes with it," Diggs said. "I should have communicated better."

Cousins, the focus of so much of the frustration, was effusive in his praise of Diggs who -- remember -- caught just three passes.

"I think he's one of the best players in the world," he said. "I am absolutely thrilled he is on our team."

Then the Vikings QB went on to explain the obvious: that neither Thielen nor Diggs would be as open as they can be if defenses didn't have to worry about both of them.

"They complement one another," Cousins said. "As a quarterback, it's a tremendous help to have both of them."

It's sometimes hard to keep track of who is upset at whom when a season starts to go sideways, which is why it was so important for Minnesota to right this particular Viking ship as quickly as possible.

Head coach Mike Zimmer, for his part, said he never gave any serious thought to not playing Diggs as punishment for the receiver's absences. This game essentially represents a reboot for the Vikings, provided they can replicate this effort against a more potent defense like, say, the one they will face next week against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Vikings, of course, were never out of the thick of the NFC North (they are now 3-2), but the fissures were deepening as the offense struggled. And much of the blame was falling on Cousins, whose rich free-agent contract last year has focused the spotlight on what has been his disappointing output since his arrival in Minnesota. This victory, at least for a week, will calm the tensions that were obvious within the organization. Zimmer, as blunt a coach as there is in the NFL, made that clear.

"It was very important," he said. "If we didn't play well today, the heat would have been pretty hot."

Thielen said he knew this week would be a telling one for the Vikings. The game plan had Cousins frequently run bootlegs and roll outs. The repeated crossing patterns they ran exposed the holes in the Giants' defense. But more importantly for the Vikings, those completions allowed them easy yards and an easy bandage to the wounds from their somnolent performance against the Bears the previous week.

"After a really frustrating loss, (you) can go one of two ways," Thielen said. "It's just really good to see. I knew we had that locker room. I was excited to see how we'd practice this week. It makes you appreciate the guys we have."

For a week, maybe longer, future results pending. Cousins seemed relieved, but he was also surprisingly subdued, perhaps worn out by the game and the week that preceded it. The Vikings had aired their feelings -- over and over again, in a kind of mass and daily marriage counseling session. The family was back intact Sunday afternoon. These things are ephemeral, and Cousins -- who was viewed as a savior when he signed with the Vikings and has been criticized seemingly every week since -- appears to know that better than anybody. There was an unmistakable world weariness to him on Sunday. He reads none of the criticism, he said. He tries to be ignorant of all that is going on. He goes to work and prepares like he always does and, he gently reminded everyone, he has seen zaniness before. It is probably worth remembering that as emotional as this week was, it probably doesn't compare with what Cousins lived through during the daily dysfunction of his stint with the Washington Redskins.

"This is not my first rodeo," he said. "I think some of these questions are being asked like I'm a rookie and have never experienced this before. This is Year 8 for me. I've played with some big-time, big-name receivers who have done some great things in this league before that aren't named Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, OK. My relationship with those guys has been outstanding from Day 1 'til now and I'm not surprised by what this league can throw at you. You have to keep your head down, keep working and go play."

Follow Judy Battista on Twitter @judybattista.

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