The Good, the Bad, and the Dak at Minnesota on November 20, 2022

The Good:

1. Pollard: The game was great for him, with more receiving yards than Cousins had passing yards, two of his six catches were fairly long TDs, and he had around 80 yards rushing on 15 carries. Just about everyone on the offense at least had a good day, but Pollard was easily the most explosive of them.

2. Turnovers: Unlike last week, where two INTs played a role in the Dallas loss, we had no turnovers today and forced one with the first sack of Cousins on the day. And while that turnover only set up a Dallas field goal, it did change the flow of the game in which the Vikings lost the opportunity to score first and stick to a run heavy game plan... and that latter part would go away as the game unfolded, but that would sit more with other points.

3. Pass Rush: The defense started with a sack, and as the score began to drift away from the Vikings the less they could just run the ball, the more our pass rush was able to dominate the game. According to Dallas at Minnesota - Yahoo Sports 11/20/2022, Dallas had 7 sacks in the game, with Parsons getting two of them, including the strip sack that finished the first Vikings drive.

4. Zeke Scoring: He only had 42 yards rushing and averaged 2.8 yards per carry, but when it got down to the goal line, hie was able to power through the Vikings front that sold out to stop the run on both attempts, and had stalled Pollard on prior plays, and got two touchdowns.

5. Maher: Four field goals attempted, four made, including a 60 yard one right before the half.

6. The Backups Did Well: It's rare to see the second string come in on NFL games... often because the teams are far closer to each other in talent than is the case in college football. And after last week, I would have held that if something like that happened in this game, it would be the Vikings doing it to us. But things went very well for Dallas this week, and in South Dakota, CBS left that game to go to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, so I had to follow the end of the game online... but I did note that our backups got some time, and they did well.

Rush had the best completion percentage of anyone in the game at 4 of 5 with 31 yards. Davis came in and caught a few passes and carried the ball reasonably well, and all of which helped set up Maher's last field goal in the fourth quarter.

The Bad:

1. Rush Defense: The total yards weren't too bad, only 73 total rushing yards... but a lot of that comes more from the fact that our offense did much better than last week and we built a decent lead by halftime and continued to build that lead in the second half. In that, by the first Viking drive of the 3rd quarter, they were starting to stop running the ball at all as they tried to play catchup. Within the context of trying to stop the Vikings running attack... when they were trying to run, Cook was still gaining on average 6.5 yards per carry. In this, if we hadn't blown the score so wide open, things could have been very different.

2. Parsons Missing the Ball: This is a bit more in jest, as the play in question ultimately also ended well, and on the whole, Parsons had a good day, but there was one play that deserves a chuckle, and one that Nantz and Romo had in the booth as well. In the second quarter, he rushed Cousins, as our pass rush did, and he actually got to him before he could throw the ball. In this, Parsons had another sack in his arms... but it appears that Cousins managed some "fake out" and Parsons let him go and was looking downfield for the ball while Cousins still had it.

3. Turpin's Muff: He's been quite good this year, and he had at least one good return that would help set up a score in the second half, but there was one play in which he did muff the catch and had it on the ground. Thankfully, we recovered it and the Vikings committed one of their seven penalties in the game on that play, which would have negated a change in possession.

The Dak: Today was very much the sort of day that should give people reason to support him. He was very efficient with the ball with only 3 incompletions, no INTs, and he had some very nice throws. And while some want to argue that it was "yards after the catch" or that "Pollard made those plays," we should keep in mind that the second TD pass to Pollard was not a RB screen like the first one was. That pass went at least 20 yards through the air and hit him in stride with no one to stop him. He also had two huge passes that set up other Dallas scores. The first was the pass to Lamb before the end of the first half that was well downfield and on the sideline, and set up the 60-yard field goal. In the third quarter, it was the long pass to Noah Brown that set Dallas up on the one and thus Zeke's second TD run. Those were big plays that did a lot to help the team win and showed a lot of the good Dak can do throwing the ball, and the fact that they were also downfield throws didn't hurt either.

At the same time, Dak also made a meaningful contribution with his legs with 3 rushes for 16 yards. These plays also enabled him to escape trouble, in that there was really only one play where one may argue that Dak did something wrong in that he held onto the ball too long in the pocket and then turned into Za'Darius Smith. But on the play, Smith couldn't bring Dak down for the sack and he managed to turn what could have been a fairly big loss into a one-yard gain. So, he got into trouble there, but he managed to escape it and all played a role in the reasonably good to great day that Dak had.

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