The Dallas Cowboys avoided their first losing streak of the season by knocking the pants off the Minnesota Vikings 40-3. From the onset, the Cowboys were rolling as they were scoring on offense and sacking quarterbacks on defense. There were a lot of good things in this one. Here are 10 thoughts on this Minnesota blowout.
1. Micah belongs on the edge
It took three plays for Micah Parsons to remind everyone that he is one of the best edge rushers in the game. Last week, the Cowboys used him mostly as an off-ball linebacker and it essentially erased his ability to impact the game. But not this time.
Parsons was back to his game-wrecking ways as he had his fifth two-sack game of the year. It’s weird. Parsons either gets two sacks or no sacks. There is no middle ground this season as he’s now had five games each with those two outcomes. He’s a dynamic player and you can understand how the Cowboys would like to use his skill set to its entirety, but not employing him as an edge rusher seems criminal.
2. Sack party!
The Cowboys entered the week with a league-leading 33 sacks and with seven more sacks on Sunday, that isn’t changing. Not only was Parsons creating a mess, but everyone was getting in on the action. Dorance Armstrong also had two sacks, DeMarcus Lawrence had a sack, Dante Fowler had a sack, and safety Jayron Kearse even had a sack.
Last week, the Cowboys' defense didn’t earn the privilege to rush the quarterback as they struggled to stop the run. The defense did a much better job against the run in this one as Minnesota’s rushing attack was a non-factor. They only had 17 carries for 73 yards. Additionally, the Cowboys’ offense scored on each of their first seven possessions, altering the game script and forcing the Vikings to play catch-up.
3. The Pony Express
Just the mere presence of Ezekiel Elliott was enough to ignite the electric playmaking ability of Tony Pollard. The dynamic duo worked wonderfully together as Zeke did the dirty running, including two goal-line touchdowns. But Pollard did the rest.
Pollard finished the game as the team’s leading receiver with six catches for 109 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown on a 3rd-and-14 play. It was the longest play of the year for the Cowboys. He also had a 30-yard touchdown catch in the first half. On both of these touchdown receptions, Pollards wasn’t even touched. Get him the ball in the open field and it’s over. Pollard also added 15 rushes for 80 yards on the ground, so he was doing it all on this day.
4. Progressing Dak
Last week was a weird game. The offense scored 28 points, but they had some possessions that looked very bad. Dak Prescott just looked uncomfortable at times and even when he was completing passes, it seemed as if he was laying up short.
Prescott was a different cat in this one. He completed 22 of 25 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns. Not only was Dak accurate with his throws, but he did a great job going through his progressions and making good decisions with the football. He finished the game with 11 yards per attempt, the third-best efficiency of his career.
5. The 150 Club
Dak Prescott entered this game with 149 total touchdown passes, a total largely aided by his 37 touchdowns last year, the most ever by a Cowboys quarterback. Prescott’s first touchdown on the day put him at 150 for his career.
Speaking of 150, the win was the 150th for head coach Mike McCarthy. Of course 125 of them came as the Packers' head coach, with now 25 with the Cowboys. It was a big win for the Cowboys coach as he was pretty disappointed in last week’s letdown. He try to assure us they would regroup and that’s exactly what they did. They came out with a purpose on Sunday.
6. Explosive plays
It’s been a little light on big plays this season as the Cowboys offense has been more of a grind than an offensive highlight reel. But it was a different story on Sunday as the Cowboys took some deep shots. CeeDee Lamb had a nice 27-yard sideline snag, Noah Brown caught a deep one for 35 yards, and then there were the two big catches from Pollard.
It was just nice to see Prescott put some air under the ball and take some deep shots as that will definitely make teams think twice before overloading to stop the short game.
7. So nice, he can nail it twice!
It’s so weird to sit here in Week 11 and talk about how reliable of a kicker Brett Maher is. He’s made 19 of 21 of his kicks this year, putting him at 90% on the year. The last time the Cowboys had a kicker make 90% or more of his kicks was back in 2015 during Dan Bailey’s lone Pro Bowl season.
Maher has now made four kicks of 60 yards or more, the most by any kicker in NFL history. In fact, you could even say he made five of them as he had to knock his 60-yarder through twice because the officiating crew drug its feet in reviewing CeeDee Lamb’s sideline catch. Whatever. Maher was even more accurate on the encore kick as he continues to have a great season.
8. No touchdown for you!
This was Kirk Cousins’ 11th game against the Cowboys and most of them have not gone in his favor as he’s now 2-9 against Dallas in his career. However, even in defeat he usually does pretty well. Not this time.
Cousins was under duress all day. He finished the day 12/23 for 105 yards. He didn’t throw a single touchdown. In fact, entering this game Cousins had thrown a touchdown in 39-straight games. That streak is now over.
9. Missing in action
Justin Jefferson is one of the game’s elite wide receivers, but each time he squares off against Cowboys corner Trevon Diggs, he goes MIA. Just like a year ago, Diggs completely shut down Jefferson as the third-year receiver finished the game with three catches for 33 yards.
It’s hard to fault Jefferson too much as the Vikings' passing game was non-effective, but this was a matchup everyone was circling and the Cowboys All-Pro corner showed up for this one.
10. Biggest road win ever
Not only did the Cowboys rebound from a tough road loss, but they did so in emphatic fashion. The 37-point win over the Vikings was the biggest road win in team history. It was also the Vikings' biggest home loss since the NFL merger. That’s one way to set the table for a happy Thanksgiving.