The workhorse running back was the engine of the Vikings offense, blasting through arm tackles, breaking ankles of defensive backs in space, and playing menace in the screen game.
Cook generated 98 rushing yards on 23 carries and the only touchdown of the tilt and added five receptions for 73 yards. Down the stretch, Cook's ability to gash the Redskins defense for eight- or nine-yard chunk gains ground down the clock, allowing the Vikings to milk the fourth quarter with drives of 12 plays, 6:23 minutes and 14 plays, 8:16 minutes.
Entering the final frame, the tilt sat in limbo with Minnesota holding just a seven-point lead. Yet, with Cook and the Vikings picking up first-downs at will (nine in the quarter), Washington had the ball for just two minutes and 20 seconds of the fourth-quarter -- 26 of those seconds were running the clock out at the end.
"To wear those guys out and play old school football felt nice," Cook said after the tilt, via the team's official transcript. "Running down their throats and keeping them on the field makes the offensive line feel good."
Cook sat atop the NFL's rushing mountain entering the week. He could remain there after Thursday's performance gives him 823 yards through eight games -- 108 more than Leonard Fournette, next on the list. Cook's 5.3 yards per attempt is tied for most among all running backs with more than 100 rush attempts (Nick Chubb). The 24-year-old also leads the league with nine touchdowns.
Thursday night, Cook was marvelous in the screen game, dancing through the Washington secondary like an ankle-breaking stallion. It was apropos that the only touchdown of the night was set up by a Cook screen that he took 31 yards dancing around defenders to Washington's 8-yard line. Cook would pound it in three plays later to close the first half. On the TD drive, Cook accounted for 55 of the 75 yards -- 51 though the air.
Cook's dual-threat ability makes him one of the most dangerous players in the NFL.
"You got to be able to catch the football and make plays," Cook said. "You just can't sit back there and hand the football off in today's game. Defenses just pin their ears back, stuff the box and come after you. But when they have to defend all the green grass with me catching the football, it makes it hard on them."
Through eight games, Cook has compiled 1,116 scrimmage yards. Only Adrian Peterson in 2007 had more than Cook through the first eight games of a season in franchise history.
Cook has six games with 120-plus scrimmage yards this season, most in the NFL. No other player has more than four entering Week 8.
"He's hard to bring down," Kirk Cousins said of his RB. "He's obviously got some elite movement skills and he's just as dangerous catching the football because once the ball's in his hands, whether it's a handoff or a reception, the ball's still in his hands. And so that's the key is just finding ways to get him touching the football. Once it's in his hands good things happen. So he's just got elite movement skills; he's hard to bring down."
Thursday night, the Vikings put up 434 yards yet scored just 19 points. On a short week, however, they'll gladly smile and take the W, knowing that if Cook puts up similar performances against better teams on Sundays, they'll stack wins heading toward the playoffs.