Behind an explosive offense and a tenacious defense, the Dallas Cowboys dominated the Minnesota Vikings 40-3 at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Cowboys (7-3) racked up a total of 458 offensive yards and held the Vikings (8-2) to 183 total offensive yards.
On the Vikings' opening drive, the Cowboys' defense made noise early when LB Micah Parsons strip-sacked quarterback Kirk Cousins. His turnover put the offense into a prime scoring position– but the Cowboys only walked with a short field goal to get the first lead of the game, 3-0.
Minnesota's ensuing possession would look promising as Cousins found wideouts Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen for several completions, and running back Dalvin Cook punished the Cowboys' subpar run defense. However, the Boys' defense came up big again, and held the Vikings to just three points.
Now, tied 3-3 in the middle of the first, neither team had momentum yet. But after a 10-play, 75-yard drive that lasted over five minutes, the Cowboys landed the “first punch” of the game — and scored on a one-yard run from running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Besides Elliott, the playmakers of that drive were running back Tony Pollard and wideouts Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb. All three had critical runs and receptions to keep the offense flowing, and the Cowboys led 10-3 after one quarter.
After holding the Vikings to another three-and-out (shoutout to Dorance Armstrong on the sack to stall their drive), the Cowboys' offense picked up where they left off and stayed hot.
Dink and dunks from Prescott and successful runs from Elliott and Pollard got the Boys an opportunity to go up 17-3. But the Vikings' defense got a stop, and the Cowboys had to settle for another field goal. While they were now up 13-3, the Boys missed a chance to go up two touchdowns.
The acclaimed “Doomsday Defense 4.0” was becoming a problem for the Vikings' offense in the first half after they suffered another three-and-out and gave the Cowboys' offense another chance to score.
And after eight plays and 59-yards, the offense didn't disappoint and scored quickly on a 30-yard catch-and-run from Pollard. His score put the Cowboys up 20-3.
5th TD in the last 3 games for @Tp__5 🔥
It was shaping for the Cowboys to go into halftime with a 17-point lead. But once again, the defense got a stop. With only 31 seconds left, the Cowboys got downfield quickly.
The highlight of their drive came when Lamb caught a toe-tapping sideline catch to set up K Brett Maher with a long field goal. Already 2/2 for the day, the odds were in Maher's favor.
And from 60-yards out, Maher drilled a kick to push the lead to 23-3 and cap a five-play, 44-yard drive. There was a mini-controversy before halftime as the referees said his kick didn't count, as they wanted to review Lamb's catch that set up the field goal to ensure he had possession.
The catch was good, Maher came back out, and he was ice-cold as he nailed it TWICE from 60-yards out.
In the second half, the Cowboys stayed hot. With the ball first on the opening drive, the Boys scored quickly when Prescott found Pollard on a wheel route, and he outran defenders en route to a 68-yard touchdown.
It would be Pollard's second receiving touchdown of the game, but most importantly, it pushed their lead to 30-3.
🚨 TONY POLLARD CANNOT BE STOPPED 🚨
From there, it was all Cowboys. Not to sound like a broken record, but the defense suffocated Cousins and the offense again and gave Prescott and the offense another chance to score.
And what did they do? They scored again. In five plays and 41-yards, the Boys and the offense found the endzone, with Elliott spinning his way to a one-yard score. The score not only pushed their lead to 37-3. But it killed any Vikings' hope of a comeback.
The whole quarter was arguably a snoozefest. After the Cowboys increased their lead to 40-3, courtesy of a Maher 50-yard FG, the Vikings threw the white flag. The backups came in on both sides, and there were no other scores.
Pollard carried the ball 15 times for 80 yards. Elliott added 15 carries for 42 yards and two touchdowns. Pollard also led the team in receiving with six catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Lamb had five receptions for 45 yards. Prescott was 22 for 25 and threw for 276 yards and two touchdowns. Maher was 4/4 in FGs. The Cowboys' defense finished with seven sacks.
For the Cowboys to rebound like how they did Sunday against the Vikings after suffering a heartbreaking loss last week to the Green Bay Packers was very encouraging. Both sides of the ball looked dominant, and it's safe to pencil this as a statement win for the Boys.
The one-two punch of Elliott and Pollard will be a problem for future defenses, and Prescott looked calm and collected on the field. If I had to nitpick anything on the offense, I would say it's evident the team needs help in the WR Room, as Pollard led the team in receiving.
I understand it shouldn't matter who leads the receiving aspect, and it was a blowout for most of the game — but it also wouldn't be bad to add another wideout. (Odell Beckham Jr., anyone?)
For the defense, the biggest win has to be the amount of pressure they got on Cousins, as he couldn't get any offense rolling. Plus, they finally showed improvement in the run game!
While the Vikings couldn't run a lot since they were down early, they did show some improvement. However, running back Dalvin Cook averaged 6.5 yards a carry, and that's something they need to work on.
With the loss, Cousins is now 2-9 all-time versus the Cowboys. His streak of passing for a touchdown in 39 consecutive games also ended. (You like that, Kirk?)