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Cowboys news: Dallas overcomes Vikings in 31-28 stunner

We can actually say this sincerely: happy Monday! Cowboys nation, you have yourself a playoff contender.

Dallas Cowboys v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys back in NFC East chase after snapping 4-game skid vs. Minnesota Vikings - Todd Archer, ESPN

With three (!) wins on their total record, the Cowboys are now squarely in contention for a playoff spot. Wait, what? Ah yes, the pitifully bad NFC East.

No team in the division has more than three wins. The Philadelphia Eagles, who lost to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, are in first place with a 3-6-1 record. The Cowboys, New York Giants and Washington Football Team also have three wins, but the Giants hold the tiebreaker, followed by Washington and the Cowboys.

But by the time the Eagles and Giants play again, the Cowboys might have more wins than anybody else in the division if they beat Washington on Thanksgiving.

That would require a winning streak, which is something the Cowboys have not accomplished yet this season.

Few folks, however, expected the Cowboys to win Sunday, even as they were coming off their bye week.

Cowboys rally for 31-28 victory and stop Vikings’ winning streak - Ben Goessling, Star Tribune

Relive the game’s final moments.

Thielen’s second TD gave the Vikings the lead for the first time since the first quarter, and after the Cowboys pulled ahead on the longest run any team has posted against the Vikings this season (a 42-yard score from Tony Pollard off the right side of the Dallas line), Cousins hit Jefferson for a 39-yard score as the rookie fought through a grab from cornerback Anthony Brown.

After forcing a Vikings punt, the Cowboys drove 59 yards to the Vikings’ 2 with less than two minutes left, where Andy Dalton hit a two-yard scoring pass to Dalton Schultz off crossing routes designed to sow confusion in the Vikings’ secondary.

The lead change was the last of a fourth quarter that saw 29 total points.

“When you don’t win, you just leave the stadium sick to your stomach,” Cousins said. “It’s just heartbreaking right now.”

Dallas Cowboys 31, Minnesota Vikings 28: Winning streak ends at three - Christopher Gates, Daily Norseman

From the perspective of the purple and yellow:

But, it was not to be for the Vikings, as a fourth-down pass attempt towards Adam Thielen fell incomplete and the Vikings saw their winning streak end at three.

Cousins actually played very well in this game for the most part. He completed 22-of-30 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns on the afternoon, but three of those incompletions came on the game’s final three plays. His top target on the day was Adam Thielen, who hauled in eight catches for 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the afternoon. Justin Jefferson also had 86 yards and a touchdown on three receptions.

Dalvin Cook had another solid game, rushing for 115 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.

The loss drops the Vikings’ record to 4-6 on the season and they’ll host the Carolina Panthers next week at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Cowboys move their record to 3-7 and they’ll host the Washington Football Team next week.

Grading the Cowboys: Dallas’ unexpected drought-ending win over Vikings puts team back in NFC East race - Jean-Jacques Taylor, Dallas Morning News

One evaluation of the momentous win:

Pass offense

Andy Dalton played his best football at winning time as he recorded the 26th fourth-quarter comeback and the 26th game-winning drive of his career. On the game-winning drive, he threw a dart to Amari Cooper on fourth-and-six for a first down, and he completed two other passes to tight end Dalton Schultz, including the game-winning touchdown with 1:37 left. Dalton wound up with 203 yards passing with three touchdowns and an interception. The Cowboys only had two receptions of more than 20 yards, but Dalton avoided the disastrous mistakes that lose games.

GRADE: B

Run defense

They held up good for a half, limiting Dalvin Cook to 37 yards on 12 carries, but fell apart in the second half because the Vikings were committed to Cook. He had 15 carries for 118 yards in the second half as Minnesota scored three touchdowns in the second half. Cook finished with 115 yards and a touchdown, but his longest run was just 16 yards. More important, Dallas held Cook under his average of 119 yards per game. He had averaged 155 yards in the last three games.

Where the Giants Stand in the NFC East Race After Week 11 - Patricia Traina, Sports Illustrated

How things will shake up should a tiebreaker be necessary:

There’s still a ways to go before the division gets sorted out, but in the event of a tie in the division at the end of the year, here, in order, are some of the NFL’s tie-breaking procedures:

Two Clubs

Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).

Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.

Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.

Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

Three or More Clubs

Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games among the clubs).

Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.

Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.

Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

Strength of victory.

Streak Stop: Dalton’s 3 Touchdowns Lift Cowboys Past Vikings - Dave Campbell, NBCDFW

The Dalton-to-Dalton connection was timely on Sunday.

THE RED RIFLE

Dalton returned behind a reshuffled offensive line, with Joe Looney replacing the injured Tyler Biadisz at center, right guard Zack Martin taking over at right tackle for rookie Terence Steele and Connor McGovern filling Martin’s spot.

The offense produced twice as many touchdowns at Minnesota as it had in the four previous games without star quarterback Dak Prescott, but there were still questions.

Instead of feeding Elliott, the Cowboys went big late in the second quarter from the Vikings 38. Dalton threw deep for Michael Gallup and incomplete on third-and-1 and wide of Cedrick Wilson on the next play to give the ball up on downs.

Cowboys-Washington Thanksgiving winner will take first place in NFC East - Ryan Homler, Yahoo Sports

Thanksgiving could bring more to be grateful for than just food.

Typically, a battle between the Washington Football Team and Dallas Cowboys in which both squads are 3-7 would not quite be the Thanksgiving entre many would hope for.

That still may be the case on Thursday, but no one can deny that the game is important. The winner of the contest, somehow, will take first place in the NFC East. At least for a few days.

With Washington taking down the Bengals and the Cowboys defeating the Vikings, both teams join the New York Giants at 3-7 and just a half-game back of the Philadelphia Eagles. Philadelphia is now 3-6-1 after falling to the Browns in Week 11.

Therefore, with Washington and Dallas playing before the other two will have a chance to take the field, the winner will be at the top of the division standings. It may just be for three days, but it’s still first place. The Eagles host the Seattle Seahawks (7-3) Nov. 30 on Monday Night Football. The Giants play at the Bengals (2-7-1) on Sunday, Nov. 29.

5 thoughts from Cowboys-Vikings: Dallas’ offense looks pretty good; NFC East is there for the taking - Calvin Watkins, Dallas Morning News

Now this team is a treat for the eyes.

CeeDee Lamb, CeeDee Lamb, CeeDee Lamb

What more can be said about CeeDee Lamb, the Cowboys’ rookie wide receiver? He put on a show against the Vikings. His best play was the 4-yard touchdown reception where Andy Dalton either threw the ball in the wrong spot or Lamb turned the wrong way. It didn’t matter because Lamb stretched behind himself to make the reception falling down in the second quarter. It’s just another example of how good Lamb has been this season. He scored on a two-point conversion with 12:02 left in the fourth quarter to give the Cowboys a 24-21 lead. He also passed Bob Hayes to raise the Cowboys’ rookie receptions record for a season with 48 and counting.

Offensive line changes

Mike McCarthy earlier said he wasn’t playing fantasy football with the offensive line. He wanted to use his best five offensive linemen. Well, Zack Martin was moved to right tackle, sending Terence Steele to the bench and moving Connor McGovern from the bench to right guard. Dalton didn’t have a lot of problems getting the ball downfield and the run game produced 180 yards. Dalton was sacked just once. Martin’s future isn’t at tackle because La’el Collins will return to that position in 2021.

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