The Dallas Cowboys were able to outlast the Minnesota Vikings on the road with questionable officiating all-around to get their 11th-straight win.
The opportunities were there for the taking for the Minnesota Vikings, but the lack of discipline from the offensive line and a no-call at the end doomed them late. Thus, the Dallas Cowboys were able to win their 11th-straight game in 2016 on Thursday Night Football from U.S. Bank Stadium.
Adam Thielen’s fumble down in Minnesota’s own territory at the beginning of the fourth quarter may have been the turning point of this game. Following the muffed punt, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott hit Dez Bryant for an 8-yard touchdown connection.
Minnesota’s defense did the best they could, forcing two turnovers, sacking Prescott three times, and coming up with a crucial stop towards the end of the game. After three field goals was all that the Vikings had mustered late in the fourth quarter, Sam Bradford drove the offense down the field and got the score to pull them within two.
Unfortunately, yet another mistake from the offensive line and a missed call sealed the deal for the Cowboys. There was a missed hands-to-the face call on a Dallas pass-rusher as he rushed Bradford. However, it was not whistled and Bradford’s throw sailed far too high on the two-point try. It was just one of many questionable instances of officiating throughout the night—on both ends—including a missed false start call on that same final two-point try.
But that’s how an ugly, gritty game in Minneapolis came to close, though no one said football has to be glamorous. The Cowboys, again, extend their winning streak while the Vikings now drop back to .500 wondering if they have enough to claw into a Wild Card berth with only four games remaining.
Ezekiel Elliot, Cowboys (20 carries, 86 yards 1 TD; 4 receptions, 19 yards) – The going was a little bit tougher than usual for Zeke, but the ground-breaking rookie still made an impact when it counted. In the fourth quarter he ripped off a 30-yard run to set up a field goal. Pass blocking, go-to outlet from the backfield, and premium pass blocker; No. 21 does it all for the best team in the league.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys (4 receptions, 84 yards, 1 TD) – Minnesota messed up not shadowing Bryant with Xavier Rhodes, which led to Dez throwing up the “X” and more in route to another productive night. The Dallas wide receiver beat Minnesota’s best defensive player, Harrison Smith, with a double move early for 50+ yard gain. Then he went on to beat Rhodes on a short throw for a touchdown. Rhodes is one of the best corners in the league, but this just proves how unstoppable Dez can be.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys (12-18, 139 yards, 1 TD; 6 carries, 37 yards) – The numbers weren’t spectacular and he made quite a few rookie mistakes, but Dak made plays when Dallas needed them the most, particularly on his feet. Prescott scrambled for multiple first downs throughout the game and, at one point, was out rushing Elliot. The passing stats were probably his worst yet, but then again, Dak has still done enough to keep Romo on the bench.
Lucky loses the football. Going the other way!@Vikings ball!
Minnesota will hit the road and head southeast to Jacksonville, FL as they take on the Jaguars in Week 14 at 1 p.m. ET. The Cowboys will go to New York on their second of back-to-back road games against their division rivals, the New York Giants. This NFC East collision will be held on Sunday Night Football in Week 14.