Dallas Cowboys Self-sabotage, Force a Loss Against Vikings, 28-24

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) carries the ball as Minnesota Vikings’ Everson Griffen (97) gives chase during the second half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Cook said, ahead of the Vikings visit to the Cowboys, that he wanted to outrush Ezekiel Elliott this week.

The league’s leading rusher did that and more as he outjuked Cowboys defenders to 183 yards from scrimmage—including 97 rushing—to leave Dallas wishing that Amari Cooper’s toe-tapping magic and another 400-plus-yard offensive performance could do more than leave the Cowboys with 17 seconds in the fourth quarter to chase the literal and figurative Hail Mary.

Instead, another touchdown-less first quarter (five now in six games) was too much to overcome. Dallas did, however, have the opportunity to take the lead in the final two minutes with a first-and-10 from Minnesota’s 19-yard line, but the offense turned the ball over on downs.

Falling to 5-4, the Cowboys now are in a tie with the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East.

Here are three things we learned in the 28-24 Minnesota win:

1. Amari Cooper has a sixth sense for the sideline

Cooper ripped off three toe-tapping catches en route to 147 yards and a touchdown. First Prescott found Cooper for 20 yards on third-and-12 to set up the Cowboys’ first score of the night, a 23-yarder with 8:15 to play in the second quarter. Then Prescott faked a handoff before rolling right to find Cooper just past the chains on first down, Cooper meeting the ball in midair just in time to step in and fall out of bounds halfway through the third. Four plays later, Prescott and Cooper hugged the right sideline again to connect for a touchdown that gave Dallas its own lead of the night at 21-20.

2. The Cowboys defense was outmatched

Dallas knew it would have its hands full with a talented offense starring Cook. Even with Minnesota missing wideout Adam Thielen (hamstring), Dallas whiffed on too many tackles, failed to stop screen plays and allowed third-down conversions at a rate (57%) that was more than twice what they had permitted entering the game (27%). They let Cook explode, and tight end Kyle Rudolph scored 14 points before the Cowboys notched any. Defensive end Robert Quinn tallied another sack to push to 7 1/2 in seven games and cash in on a bonus exceeding $800,000. DeMarcus Lawrence had bright spots defending both the run and pass. But holding the Vikings to a touchdown and two field goals the last three quarters wasn’t enough to eke out a win.

3. The Vikings shut down Ezekiel Elliott

The league’s 2018 rushing title-winner cobbled together just 47 yards on 20 carries and another 16 on two passes. Prescott completed 28 of 46 passes for 397 yards, three touchdowns and a lone interception on the final play of the game. But the run game produced no plays longer than 7 yards (that one by Tavon Austin’s lone carry) and no first downs on the ground.

The Cowboys face the Lions next week before traveling to New England.

SOURCE: USA Today, Jori Epstein