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Dane Mizutani: Let’s see what the Vikings are made of after that 37-point beatdown

The writing was on the wall from the opening drive as Cousins got stripped of the ball by Cowboys star linebacker Micah Parsons.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings fans react during the game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Cowboys manhandled the Vikings 40-3.
Jeffrey Becker / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- It was bound to happen. After tempting fate so many times this season — consistently finding a way to win game after game in incredible fashion — it finally caught up to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium in a 40-3 beatdown at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys.

There was no Justin Jefferson miraculous catch this time around, no clutch drive led by Kirk Cousins at the end of regulation, no Patrick Peterson crucial interception to seal the deal. The impossible win over the Bills last week felt like a lifetime ago as the Vikings trailed the Cowboys by a whopping 34 points shortly after halftime.

The writing was on the wall from the opening drive as Cousins got stripped of the ball by Cowboys star linebacker Micah Parsons. That proved to be a sign of things to come as the Cowboys wreaked havoc throughout the game and in the backfield, holding the Vikings to a mere 183 yards of total offense.

On the other side of the ball, Cowboys running back Tony Pollard had 80 rushing yards and 109 receiving yards, proving to be an enigma the home team couldn’t solve. He had a pair of touchdowns in the game, and the Cowboys didn’t punt until well after halftime. They finished with 458 yards of total offense.

It was the first time this season that the Vikings have looked completely overmatched.

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Though some might point to the loss to the Eagles a couple of months ago, the Vikings at least pretended to be competitive in that game.

That wasn’t the case against the Cowboys, as the Vikings struggled on offense, defense and special teams, never once looking like a team that belonged on the same field with their opponent.

How the Vikings respond to this humbling experience will be telling. If they bounce back in the coming weeks, everyone will remember this as a turning point. If they fall by the wayside, everyone will remember this as the beginning of the end.

Now it’s on the Vikings to determine how the narrative will go. The turnaround will be quick with the New England Patriots coming to town on Thanksgiving night.

Dane-Mizutani-col-sig
Dane Mizutani

Everyone is going to learn a lot about the Vikings over the next few days. They are also going to learn even more about themselves.

Let’s see what the offense is made of. To this point, the Vikings have been able to rely on Cousins to step up in crunch time, on Jefferson to dominate as arguably the best player at his position, on Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill to vaporize opposing pass rushers.

Can they respond after their anemic performance on national television?

Let’s see what the defense is made of. To this point, the Vikings have been able to rely on Peterson to instill a sense of belief in the group, on Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter to generate a consistent pass rush, on various other players to make big plays in big moments.

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Can they turn the page quickly after getting embarrassed on national television?

Let’s see what coach Kevin O’Connell is made of. To this point, the Vikings have been able to rely on him to push all the right buttons as a coach who empowers his players on a daily basis.

Can he get his players back on track in a hurry after his worst performance to date?

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This loss doesn’t mean the 8-1 start was a facade. Not in the slightest. Frankly, the Vikings are still among the best teams in the NFC despite looking like hot garbage for a few hours.

Though it might not feel like it, the Vikings are 8-2 and still in position to run away with a division title. Heck, the Eagles at 9-1 are the only team in the conference with a better record.

The sky is not falling in the Twin Cities. Everything the Vikings want to accomplish is still right there in front of them. Now it’s up them to prove that 37-point beatdown isn’t going to define this season.

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