Once the news dropped that Dak Prescott was not going to play for the Dallas Cowboys, the general sentiment seemed to be that the Cowboys would take their “L” and get ready for next week when Prescott might play. Someone forgot to tell the Cowboys team that was the way it was supposed to go.
Dallas somehow snuck out of Minneapolis with a hard-fought 20-16 win over the Minnesota Vikings. What is even crazier about the win was that the Cowboys played a pretty sloppy game for much of the time that included too many undisciplined penalties, a missed field goal, a crucial special teams penalty, and two turnovers.
In some ways, you could give the game ball to the Cowboys defense. They repeatedly stymied the Vikings offensive attack and kept the Cowboys offense within striking distance. After a much-too-easy scoring drive allowed to start the game, the Cowboys defense clamped down. And they didn’t even get the benefit of their standard amount of turnovers. They did it the old-fashioned way of coming up big in the red zone area and forcing field goals.
Micah Parsons was the standout on defense. He seemed to be everywhere on the field, constantly making sure tackles when the Cowboys really needed it. He finished with 11 combined tackles, four tackles for loss and a quarterback hit. The Cowboys struck gold with Parsons and might have gotten lucky they weren’t able to draft one of the corners they coveted in the draft.
Randy Gregory was also a game-wrecker on defense. Yes, he got called twice for personal fouls that may or may not have been solid calls, but outside of that he was the Cowboys pass rush. He had one sack, one forced fumble, three quarterback hits and a handful of other plays where he pushed Kirk Cousins off his spot.
There were others on defense who kicked in too, like Anthony Brown with a couple of passes defensed and some sure tackling. The interior defensive line held the running game pretty well in check considering what Dalvin Cook has done in the past against the Cowboys.
On offense, Amari Cooper was a beast, fighting through hamstring issues to the tune of eight catches for 122 yards and the all-important, game-winning touchdown. He also moved the final drive with a crazy 33-yard catch on a pass that bounced off the defender.
CeeDee Lamb had 112 yards (but one terrible drop), and Cedrick Wilson had 84 yards including a 73-yard touchdown, while also throwing a pass for 35 yards. Plenty of effort all around on the offense.
But, without burying the lede any further, the game ball goes to none other than Cooper Rush. In his first NFL start he throws for 325 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner on a beautiful pass to Amari Cooper. Rush also had to do all this while playing against an excellent pass-rushing defense, and half of the game without Tyron Smith who was injured. He also wasn’t benefiting from a strong running game as the Vikings sold out to stop the run.
Rush got progressively better as the game rolled on, looking much more in control and able to push the ball down the field more effectively than early in the game. He did have a shaky interception, and fumbled once when he was blindsided on a blitz which Tony Pollard failed to pick up, so that wasn’t all on him.
Having to go on the road, and beat a decent team in one of the loudest stadiums around is a tough proposition in the NFL. Doing it on your first ever start is phenomenal.
Game ball, Cooper Rush.