The Dallas Cowboys got a very ugly win over the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night, 17-15. The Cowboys were plagued by miscues, penalties and turnovers all game. They never really found a rhythm on offense and struggled just to get 17 points on the board. But even though they were bent on self-destruction, they still managed to get a win. Their win streak is now at 11 games and they still have a chance to clinch a playoff spot this weekend.
The game started out slowly with neither team able to get much going early on. The Cowboys avoided a disaster when Ezekiel Elliott fumbled deep in Dallas territory and it was initially ruled a Vikings recovery. Replay showed Zeke recovered it and Dallas maintained possession. Other mistakes marred the Cowboys first half. Elliott broke off a 42-yard run but that was negated by a holding call on Doug Free. The Cowboys were driving and Lucky Whitehead picked up a first down on a jet sweep, but fumbled the ball back to Minnesota. Anthony Hitchens picked off the Vikings around midfield, but a ticky-tack hands to the face call on Orlando Scandrick negated the turnover.
The Cowboys one scoring drive in the first half was set up by a couple of big plays. On a third and 13 deep in their own territory, the Cowboys got a first down when Dak Prescott scrambled and gave a linebacker a fake and dove for the first down. That kept the drive alive and later Prescott hit Dez Bryant on a 56-yard bomb. That led to a Zeke one-yard run for touchdown.
Late in the first half, the Vikings were trying to move the ball for a score when DeMarcus Lawrence broke free on the pass rush and hit Sam Bradford. He spun Bradford around and Maliek Collins hit Bradford right in the ribs, knocking Bradford out of the game for a few plays. He came back for the second half.
The second half was more of the same for Dallas, penalties being the big issue with another turnover hurting the cause. Gavin Escobar got called for clipping to short-circuit a drive, and on the ensuing drive the Vikings put up a FG. Escobar got another penalty (holding) on the next drive setting Dallas back in a passing down and distance, then Doug Free got beat by Brian Robinson that led to a strip-sack. The Vikings were only able to get a FG after tough play by the Cowboys defense. They led 9-7.
Another Dallas drive was undone by a holding call on Elliott, leading to a punt. The Cowboys then got fortunate when Kyle Wilber forced a fumble on the punt return and then recovered the fumble. Dallas was set up at the Vikings 8-yard line and Dez Bryant turned a short hitch pass into a touchdown. This gave the Cowboys a 14-9 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Dallas managed to tack on another FG after Zeke got loose for a long run to go up 17-9. The game looked like it was in hand, but then the Vikings put together a drive with two minutes left after Dallas couldn’t get a first down to run out the clock. The Vikings scored with 25 seconds left, but failed on the two-point conversion. Once the Cowboys recovered the onside kick, they could leave with an ugly 17-15 win.
The Cowboys offense was bad, but the Vikings defense was also good. Still, penalties and turnovers really hurt Dallas. Dak Prescott only had 139 yards passing with one touchdown. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 86 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. Dez Bryant had four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. On defense, the Cowboys held on and limited Minnesota to 15 points. They managed three sacks but the big play came on special teams when Kyle Wilber forced and recovered the fumble. That, as much as anything, led to the Cowboys victory.