The game couldn’t have started any better for the Dallas Cowboys when Micah Parsons got loose around the edge and had a sack/strip on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins on the third play of the game. Sadly, the Cowboys only got a field goal out of it and then we watched the Vikings march down the field 69 yards on 10 plays to even the score. At that point, it looked like this game could be trouble, but that feeling went away really quickly.
The Vikings never scored again. In fact, they never crossed midfield again. The Cowboys proceeded to score the next 37 points of the game with Cousins spending the greater part of the afternoon on his back. It was a phenomenal display from the offense, defense, and even the special teams.
How did this happen? There are a lot of good things from this game that should make Cowboys fans feel great about where this team could go. Let’s take a closer look and see what things stood out after further review.
DAK PRESCOTT WAS BRILLIANT
We’ve seen a lot of great performances over Prescott’s career, and this one qualifies as one of his better ones. He didn’t have outrageous yardage totals (finished with 276 passing yards) and his two touchdowns came courtesy of the legs of Tony Pollard, but that doesn’t tell the story. Dak was super accurate in this one, completing 22 of 25 passes. His 88% completion percentage was the second-highest of his career. Prescott’s pre-snap recognition was outstanding and he was very decisive on many of his throws.
But the real treat was watching Prescott go through his progressions. He wasn’t frantic, he had a nice bounce to his step, and he saw the field extremely well. The protection was outstanding as Prescott never was sacked and the one time he was almost taken down, my TV must’ve glitched because he magically got away. Watching him check from one option to the next was beautiful and it reminded us that he possesses the mental processing as well as the physical capability to play quarterback at a high level.
THE MASERATI TP20
They say the Maserati MC20 can hit 189 miles per hour. Well, the Maserati TP20 hit 189 total scrimmage yards on Sunday as the Cowboys' best offensive weapon was flying down the autobahn.
Pollard’s explosiveness as a receiver resulted in two big-play touchdowns for the Cowboys' offense, but he was dancing around as a rusher as well. He hits the holes so fast, and if there is nothing there, he’ll pull up, shift down for split second, and then gun it! It’s truly a sight to see.
SACK’EM IF YOU GOT HIM
Thanks to some stops on early downs and the offense firing on all cylinders, the game script provided some great opportunities for the defense to do what they do best, go after the quarterback. And they didn’t disappoint. In all, the defense sacked Cousins so many times that it would make Monica Geller blush. In case you missed it, we’ve collected them for your viewing pleasure.
Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong, and Dante Fowler have to be one of the most impressive four-horseman pass-rushing groups in the league and anytime we see them all line up in the Nascar package, well, good luck Mr. Quarterback. And while edge rusher #5 Sam Williams didn’t get in on the fun in sacking Cousins, he did come away with two stops behind the line of scrimmage. The rook continues to look good.
RUN DEFENSE IMPROVEMENT?
We all anxiously awaited to see how this defense would respond to getting torched in the running game over their previous two games. On the surface, the Cowboys shut down the Vikings' running game as Minnesota only had 73 yards on the ground. But a closer look shows that the Vikings just didn’t commit to the ground attack, especially around the outside.
It wasn’t surprising to see the Vikings throw the ball as it’s been their forte all year, but to not even attack the Cowboys' biggest weakness? That was odd. It’s hard to know if the team has made any improvements in this area when they weren’t really challenged. And on the few times they were, they still showed signs of vulnerability.
The offense was rolling, the defense was rolling, and the special teams was... you guessed it, rolling. It’s easy to overlook the special teams because of how dominant the other two were, but let’s break it down.
Bryan Anger only punted twice, but when he did, he kicked the snot out of the ball and had a punt downed inside the five-yard line.
Brett Maher is incredible. It’s almost a fairy tale how he just keeps not missing kicks. Even when the NFL officiating crew tried to freeze him after knocking down a 60-yard kick, he turned around and did it again. He had three kicks of 50+ yards on Sunday.
And even though it resulted in nothing, Luke Gifford had another great play in punt coverage. Every week he’s doing something and against the Vikings, he made a nice play on the ball causing Jalen “the guy who the Eagles selected over Justin Jefferson” Reagor.
It seems like every week in my film review Luke Gifford makes some type of splash play whether it's forcing a fumble, recovering a fumble, or forcing another fumble, but I always gloss over it. Not this time. The guy's a special teams ace. pic.twitter.com/q6oLywmXPz— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) November 22, 2022