In a game where both defenses where having their way with the opposing offense, the Cowboys were able to make a few more plays than the Vikings to come away with the win. This game came down to the wire, but the Cowboys won 17-15. Cowboys’ fans were on the edge of their seat for this one, as two key turnovers almost cost Dallas the game.

Everyone knows the Vikings do not have a great offense, and the Dallas defense was able to take advantage of that. The Minnesota Vikings offense line has been riddled with injuries all year and the defensive linemen for the Cowboys exploited the Vikings’ weak spot. They were able to get constant pressure on Sam Bradford sacking him three times and also recorded six tackles for loss. The sacks came from Anthony Hitchens, Benson Mayowa, and rookie Maliek Collins.

Sam Bradford is sacked by Benson Mayowa (pic via Ben Garvin, KARE 11)
Sam Bradford is sacked by Benson Mayowa (pic via Ben Garvin, KARE 11).

The defense and special teams came up with some very big plays in this game. When Dallas was down 9-7 with about 10 minutes left in the game, the Dallas’ special team might have made the play of the game.

The Cowboys were forced to punt after a Vikings’ sack and it looked like Dallas had their back against the wall as the Cowboys struggled all game against the touch Vikings’ defense. Adam Thielin caught the punt at the Vikings’ 11 yard line and was tackled but the ball came loose and it looked like it was recovered cleanly by Thielin. Jason Garret challenged that he never established possession of the ball and that Dallas’ Kyle Wilber recovered it. After a review, the call was overturned and Dallas had the ball at their own 8 yard line. Dallas was able to score the next play. It was a great defensive play by Wilber and a great challenge by Jason Garrett.

After Sam Bradford threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jerick McKinnon with 25 seconds to play, the 2-point conversion pass failed. There was a false start on the initial play so the Vikings were forced to back up 5 yards. Dallas got a lot of pressure on Bradford that play, led by the former Philadelphia Eagle Cedric Thornton. Thornton clearly hit Bradford in the head on the play, but their was no flag. The Cowboys were able to secure the onside kick and won the game.

Cedric Thornton hits Sam Bradford in the face on the Vikings' two point conversion attempt (pic via NBC)
Cedric Thornton hits Sam Bradford in the face on the Vikings’ two point conversion attempt (pic via NBC)

This was Barry Church‘s first game back after dealing with a forearm injury the past few weeks and he played great. He had nine tackles and had a few key stops.

Byron Jones continues to play great for the Cowboys. His ability to cover any position on the field makes him a very valuable player for the Cowboys. He is a fantastic athlete and his skills are unmatched.

Another fantastic athlete is Dez Bryant. He played great against a very tough secondary. He had 4 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. Bryant made a great move to get wide open and Dak Prescott found him. Bryant faked inside and Harrison Smith bit on it leading to him being wide open down field.

Only 4 people caught the ball this game for the Cowboys: Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Terrance Williams. Dak Prescott struggled all game to find open receivers. He completed just 12 of 18 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. He also had a fumble at the end of the third quarter that set the Vikings up in great position to score. This might have been Prescott’s worse performance of the year, but it was bound to happen soon and not many people are surprised the rookie struggled against one of the best defenses in the league.

Ezekiel Elliott struggled to find openings in the offensive line. He was bottled up for 86 yards and a touchdown. He had a big run for 43 yards but it was called back because of a holding call on Doug Free.

Penalties were huge in this game. Dallas had 10 of them and they were costly. Most of them resulted in a first down for the Vikings or negated a big play. Luckily, Dallas was able to overcome those penalties and find a way to win.

Other game notes:

  • This was the second game in a row time of possession was not controlled by Dallas
  • Sean Lee now has 100 tackles for the second season in a row
  • This was Elliott’s lowest total yard output since Week 9
  • Dez Bryant ties Michael Irvin for the 2nd most touchdown catches in franchise history (65)
  • Their current 11 game win streak is the longest single season streak in franchise history
  • Sam Bradford had his most passing attempts and completions this season (32 completions on 45 attempts)
  • Jason Witten did not record a catch, breaking the franchise record streak of 130 straight games with a reception dating back to 2008

The Cowboys will look to get revenge as they turn their focus to the New York Giants. The Giants are the only team to beat the Cowboys this season so it will be a hard fought competitive game with huge playoff implications.