DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys delivered their biggest beatdown of the season with a 40-3 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
After licking their wounds following last week’s debacle in Green Bay, the Cowboys righted the ship and proved their mettle in the blowout win.
If the Cowboys are one thing this year, it’s resilient. The team had to respond from a difficult loss, and they had to do it against a team sitting at 8-1 overall and 5-0 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Once again, Mike McCarthy’s team bounced back.
The Cowboys put the bad taste of Week 10 out of their mouths quickly on Sunday. Three plays into the game, Micah Parsons made his presence felt with a sack and a forced fumble. The Cowboys recovered and got off to an early lead.
After using Parsons too much to patrol the middle of the field last week, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn put his playmaker back where he can do the most damage, as a pass rusher. That was bad news for Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins as Parsons set the tone early and often.
The Vikings managed to tie the score at three apiece on their second drive, but the Cowboys were preparing to dominate.
Dallas scored on their first seven drives of the game, which included a 10-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by an Ezekiel Elliott one-yard touchdown run to give the Cowboys a 10-3 lead they’d never relinquish. The best stretch for the Cowboys was near the end of the first half, and the start of the second half.
In a span of just over five minutes on the game clock that ended the second quarter and opened the third, the Cowboys scored 17 points to break the game open. The scoring started when quarterback Dak Prescott found running back Tony Pollard in the flat for a 30-yard touchdown down the sideline.
The next scoring opportunity came with just 31 seconds left in the second quarter with the Cowboys receiving the ball at their own 14-yard line. Prescott’s roll out and perfect pass to a tip-toeing wide receiver CeeDee Lamb for 27 yards set up Brett Maher’s 60-yard field goal. A kick he had to make twice.
Up 23-3 at halftime, the Cowboys were determined to not let the same thing happen that occurred last week. There wasn’t going to be a comeback.
On their first possession in the second half, the Cowboys faced a third-and-14. Prescott dropped back and lofted a perfect pass to Pollard streaking down the field for a 68-yard score. The rout was on with Pollard’s second receiving score of the game.
Chalk it up as another special performance from Pollard, who was once again relegated to the second stringer role for starter Elliott. Pollard had six catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cowboys’ offense, proving that he’s nobody’s backup.
With Prescott playing near perfect football, and Pollard breaking the game open with his speed, the offense was humming against the Vikings. The Cowboys began the contest going 10-12 on third down conversions. That’s a ridiculous rate that kept Dallas’ offense on the field and Vikings’ defense exhausted.
The Cowboys held the ball for over 37 minutes and put up 458 yards of total offense, a number that could’ve been higher if the Cowboys didn’t call off the dogs when the score reached 37-3 midway through the third quarter. Prescott was incredibly efficient, going 22-25 for 276 yards and two touchdowns. The offensive line gave Prescott time in the pocket, and he didn’t miss many throws.
Sunday wasn’t just a day for the offense, either. The defense had one of its best games of the 2022 campaign as well.
The Cowboys produced a season-high seven sacks and held a Vikings offense that had scored at least 28 points four times this year, to just three points and a season low 183 total yards. After giving up back-to-back weeks of 200+ yards on the ground, the Cowboys held Minnesota and running back Dalvin Cook to just 73 yards on the ground.
Meanwhile, star receiver Justin Jefferson was held to just three catches for 33 yards. This was coming off Jefferson’s 10-catch, 193 yard performance last week, and with the Pro Bowl wideout sitting at second in the league in receiving yards.
There wasn’t much that went wrong for the Cowboys. The offense was near perfect, the defense dominated, and kicker Brett Maher made four kicks, which included two long field goals of over 50 yards.
If fans wanted to see how the Cowboys would respond to losing in disappointing fashion, they were treated to the team’s most complete game of the year. Dallas got off the mat and whipped a team that was carrying a seven-game winning streak.
Blowout games don’t happen often, and they’re especially rare against a conference leader on the road. What happens next for the Cowboys is a discussion for another time. For now, Dallas should savor this win and bask in the glory of a dominating victory against one of the best teams in the league.
After this game, the Dallas Cowboys can stake their claim at the table as well.
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