Football Daily Dose

A Hurt Dalvin Cook Crushed the Steelers in 36-28 Victory

by Lauren Carpenter
Updated On: December 10, 2021, 10:50 am ET

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As far as Thursday night matchups go, the game between the Steelers and Vikings was packed with playoff implications for both teams. The 6-5 Steelers were coming off of a nail-biting win against the Ravens while the 5-7 Vikings were reeling after their stunning loss to the formerly winless Detroit Lions. 

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made it clear that this could be his last season in the NFL and therefore his last TNF appearance as a football player. Their offense has been sputtering to the point of completely stalling. Roethlisberger had only a limited amount of time to right the ship.

Minnesota had to battle Detroit in Week 13 without their key cog in Dalvin Cook who was out due to a dislocated shoulder and torn labrum. He rehabbed hard through that time and was declared a full-go for last night’s game. WR Adam Thielen, who was injured early in last week’s game, was inactive.

Both of these teams needed a win if they had any hope to advance further into the playoff picture.

A Misleading Final Score
Despite the 36-28 score, the game was lopsided in favor of the Vikings for a full three quarters of the game. The Steelers had some flashes of life in the late third and early fourth quarter to bring the game within striking distance. 

The first quarter of the game was ugly, to say the least. Both teams missed a field goal and Greg Joseph of the Vikings missed an extra point after a Justin Jefferson touchdown. In case you were curious, the Vikings play in a dome.

Minnesota started pulling away with the lead in the second quarter. Cook was playing hurt, but that didn’t seem to bother him when he scored two touchdowns before the half. The Vikings had an embarrassing 23-0 lead heading into halftime. 

However, they are no strangers to close games. It seems to define their 2021 season. True to form, the Vikings allowed the Steelers to score 28 points in the second half while only adding 13 points to their lead on a K.J. Osborn touchdown and two field goals. Pittsburgh was down by only eight points on the final drive. A touchdown pass to TE Pat Freiermuth was just barely incomplete and the Vikings took the win. 

Fantasy Impacts
Not only did this game have real football implications, but this was a big matchup for fantasy as we head into the playoffs next week. The biggest question mark was dealing with Cook and whether or not he could survive a full four quarters.

One adage we have in fantasy is never sitting your studs. This Thursday proved that to be true. Cook dominated the Steelers with 205 rushing yards and two touchdowns for 35.2 fantasy points while injured. Najee Harris didn’t have nearly the same stats but still scored 25.4 points on 94 rushing yards and two touchdowns. 

Although he lost, Roethlisberger completed 28 passes on 40 attempts for 308 yards, three touchdowns, and only one interception for 24.82 points. He was also sacked five times for a loss of 39 yards. Kirk Cousins, although he won, only scored 14.04 points on 14 completions, 31 attempts, 216 yards, and two touchdowns. He wasn’t sacked once. 

This was a game for wide receivers, even if you had to live on the edge of your seat for most of the game. Jefferson scored his touchdown on seven receptions and 79 yards for 20.5 points while his counterpart, Osborn, had three receptions, 83 yards, and a touchdown for 17.3 points. The Steelers WRs logged double-digit fantasy points from Chase Claypool, James Washington, and Diontae Johnson with 17.5, 16.5, and 15.3 respectively. 

Rookie TE Freiermuth continues to impress. A touchdown saved his fantasy day on only two receptions for 32 yards, but Roethlisberger looks for him in red-zone situations. He could have logged a second touchdown if that last play went in the Steelers’ favor. 

When all is said and done, this game was stressful and hard to watch from both a real football and fantasy perspective. Too many fantasy points were scored on long plays with very little volume, except if you are Jefferson and Cook. If this is any indicator of what the Vikings will do moving forward, you have no choice but to start them. TE Tyler Conklin and RB Alexander Mattison were left behind in terms of points, but Minnesota will have a rough schedule and close games to finish out the season. 

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Quick Hits/Injury Updates/COVID-19
Bears RB David Montgomery put in a limited practice Thursday dealing with various injuries. QB Justin Fields was declared the starter for the game against Green Bay. … Jets RB Tevin Coleman was not at practice while dealing with a concussion. … 49ers WR Deebo Samuel worked out on the sideline during practice nursing a groin injury. RB Elijah Mitchell was not at practice. … Saints RB Alvin Kamara returned to practice, but RB Mark Ingram was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list. QB Taysom Hill will be the starter despite dealing with a finger and a foot injury. … Giants WRs Sterling Shepard and Kenny Golladay returned to practice but WR Kadarius Toney left practice with an oblique injury. QB Mike Glennon is expected to start. … Packers WR Randall Cobb has been declared out indefinitely with an abdominal injury. … Raiders TE Darren Waller did not practice again while dealing with a knee injury. … Rams WR Cooper Kupp popped up on the injury report with a toe injury. Keep an eye on his status and have a backup plan for their Monday night game. … Titans WR Julio Jones was practicing again and looks to be on track to play for Week 14. … Chargers WR Mike Williams could play after being declared a close contact to WR Keenan Allen who tested positive for COVID-19. Allen’s status has not been ruled out yet since he is vaccinated and only needs two negative tests to be eligible to play. … Broncos RB Melvin Gordon said he feels like he could play on Sunday. … Cowboys RB Tony Pollard is dealing with a foot injury but is hopeful to play. … Cardinals RB Chase Edmonds has been designated to return from IR. … Washington RB J.D. McKissic returned to individual drills after a concussion. … Jaguars RB James Robinson was limited at practice with a foot/heel injury.

Lauren Carpenter

Lauren Carpenter (@stepmomlauren) is a St. Louis native, graduate of the University of Missouri's Journalism school, and all-around fan of sports. She is a fantasy football analyst and writer who enjoys communicating about sports and fantasy football, but will not inflate your vanity or listen to condescension. Let's all be kind to one another.