It would have seemed unfair if the Vikings lost on Sunday due to a foul by Alexander Mattison. Filling in for injured starter Dalvin Cook, the 23-year-old running back was one of the few bright spots for the Vikings offense who has scored only two touchdowns in his last eight quarters.
Yet it happened almost the same way.
Mattison, who scored the Vikings’ only touchdown — and did most of the work — on a 15-yard pass from Kirk Cousins, and set the Vikings up on the Detroit Lions’ 25-yard line with a 48-yard run up. in the third quarter.
He finished the game with 113 yards on 25 carries, as well as seven pass receptions for 40 yards, in the Vikings’ 19–17 victory at US Bank Stadium. Still later on the podium, Mattison spent a lot of time falling on his sword due to a fumble, which led to a touchdown by the Lions with less than a minute to play.
Standing third from the Vikings’ 20-yard line, Mattison had the ball snatched from him by linebacker Jalen Reeves-Mabin with 2 minutes to go.
“It was a play where we were trying to do a four-minute offense, and it’s a play where you know when the fight is over. The forward momentum was probably stopped, but They didn’t whistle,” Mattison said. “So, we just have to make sure we whistle for the whistleblowers and make sure stuff like this doesn’t happen again.”
The Lions made short work of that 20 yard, scoring touchdowns on three plays, one of them a 17-yard first run by D’Andre Swift. A Jared Goff pass to receiver Khadarrell Hodge on the two-point conversion gave the Lions a 17-16 lead with 41 seconds on the clock.
The lesson, said Mattison, was “simply understanding when the fight is over. Just knowing when you just have to let it happen. Situational football, and just knowing you don’t have a timeout.”
“So, for me, not trying to get an extra yard or two, just trying to save the ball, get down.”
It would have been a disaster if the Vikings had not inspired Greg Joseph to set up the winning field goal at the Lions’ 36-yard line in 36 seconds. Instead, the Vikings are 2-0 with Mattison as their starting tailback.
Mattison said he learned before kickoff Sunday afternoon that an ankle injury would rule Cook out for the second time this season. For the first time ever, Mattison ran 26 times for 112 yards and caught six passes for 56 yards in a 30-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Minneapolis.
He now leads the Vikings with a rush of 258 yards on 65 carries in five games. On his touchdown on Sunday, he caught a short pass from Cousins in the middle of the field and broke at least four tackles in the first half with 2:29 to grind his way into the end zone to lead 13-3.
The game, he said, “was a little bit of an emotional roller coaster toward the end there,” after he spoke to Joseph, who missed a potential game-winning kick on September 26 in Arizona.
“He said, ‘You got my back, I got your back,'” Mattison said. “And so that’s what this team is about. We go out there, we fight together every day. We work so that we can get better every day so that we can go out there on Sundays and perform and see each other’s be able to turn the back.”