Cowboys dismantle Vikings 40-3 to halt 7-game winning streak
It marked the Vikings’ lowest scoring output in a game since a 20-3 loss at San Francisco on Sept. 14, 2015.
MINNEAPOLIS -- That thud you heard was the Minnesota Vikings falling to earth.
After winning seven straight games, many in improbable fashion, the Vikings were hammered 40-3 by the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium. It was Minnesota’s worst defeat since a 45-7 setback Nov. 14, 2011 at Green Bay and worst home loss since a 56-14 defeat to the St. Louis Cardinals on Oct. 6, 1963 at Metropolitan Stadium.
It got so bad that in the third quarter CBS switched from showing the game to much of the nation to the game between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. By the start of the fourth quarter, the stadium was about half empty.
“Unacceptable,’’ Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks said of the rout. “Nobody expected it. There were so many things that happened that this is something you’ve got to watch the film on, and it’s all probably not going to look good.”
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was sacked seven times, the most in a game in his 11-year career. It didn’t help that star left tackle Christian Darrisaw was lost in the first half with a concussion. It marked the second straight game Darrisaw had to depart because of a concussion, and head coach Kevin O’Connell said he won’t play on Thursday night against New England at home.
The Cowboys (7-3) wasted no time piling it on against the Vikings (8-2), who were coming off an emotional 33-30 win last Sunday at Buffalo. They took leads of 23-3 on a 60-yard field goal by Brett Maher on the last play of the first half and 37-3 at the end of the third quarter.
“We didn’t play well in any phase of our football team,’’ O’Connell said. “We didn’t coach well enough, we didn’t play well enough. … We’ll be right back here in four days for the opportunity to get this taste out of our mouth. But you’ve got to give credit to the Dallas Cowboys. They came in and dominated every phase of the football game. And we’ve got to learn from this.”
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott completed 22 of 25 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns. He threw TD passes of 30 yards in the second quarter and 68 yards in the third quarter to running back Tony Pollard, who had six receptions for 109 yards. Pollard also had 80 yards rushing on 15 carries.
“I knew that this was coming just, in the fact of the preparing, and the focus,’’ Prescott said of the Cowboys bouncing back for a win after a 31-28 overtime loss at Green Bay on Nov. 13.
The Vikings were outgained 458 yards to 183. They could do little on offense or on defense.
Cousins completed just 12 of 23 passes for 105 yards before being replaced by backup Nick Mullens early in the fourth quarter. The Vikings did get 72 rushing yards on 11 carries by Dalvin Cook, but they couldn’t run much after falling behind by so much early in the game.
“It’s certainly a disappointing outcome, and what I’ve learned in this league in my years is they all count one,’’ Cousins said. “And point differential doesn’t end up becoming a thing that sticks with it, but the loss or the win does. So we’ve got to find moving forward a way to get wins and play much better.”
O’Connell said Cousins was “under duress” for most of the game despite the Cowboys mostly rushing just four players. The head coach pointed to the loss of Darrisaw, who was replaced by Blake Bradel, as one factor. And Cousins said it was difficult for the Vikings after they fell behind because the Cowboys knew they needed to pass.
“Kirk tried to battle out there,’’ O’Connell said. “It was a very tough night to play quarterback out there. We’ve got to do some things to help him, any way shape or form, (like) running the ball more.”
It marked the Vikings’ lowest scoring output since a 20-3 loss at San Francisco on Sept. 14, 2015. It was their first game without scoring a touchdown since a 34-6 home loss to Indianapolis on Dec. 18, 2016. Overall, it was the fifth most lopsided regular-season loss in team history.
“At the end of the day, it was not us out there and fortunately we get to be back out in four days,’’ wide receiver Adam Thielen said of the Vikings next playing on Thanksgiving night.
There were plenty of questions about how good the Vikings were after they won six straight games, all by one score, over mostly mediocre foes. After they came from 17 points down to stun the powerful Bills for a seventh straight win, there were more believers. But now many of those might jump ship.
The Vikings had been tied with Philadelphia for the best record in the NFL but the Eagles (9-1) won 17-16 Sunday at Indianapolis. By virtue of a 24-7 win in Week 2, they hold the tiebreaker over Minnesota for a possible first-round NFC playoff bye.
“There’s going to be a lot of narratives about our team that we can or can’t control,’’ O’Connell said. “We’ve just got to look inward to our locker room. I felt all along we’ve got the right kind of guys. We’ve got the right coaching staff. I do believe that we will respond to this the right way.”
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