Dallas Cowboys outlived absent Dak Prescott and Minnesota Vikings with a big game from defense and quarterback Cooper Rush
DALLAS – The Dallas Cowboys beat the Minnesota Vikings 20-16 with quarterback Cooper Rush making a comeback while replacing injured starter Dak Prescott. Beating a good team on the road without its quarterback MVP candidate is the type of victory that legitimizes the Cowboys as Super Bowl contenders.
It wasn’t a great win, and it’s not meant to be when you’re playing a backup quarterback, but the goal is always to find a way to get the “W”. The Cowboys did this by making their biggest plays at key moments to secure the victory. Dallas is now a six-game winner, 6-1 this season, and the 3.5-game NFC East lead has been preserved.
Rush was getting his first start in the NFL and it was no easy task. Going out on the road against a good team with a solid defense was not ideal. Still, the Cowboys have been expressing their confidence in Rush all week and putting their money where it is.
There wasn’t a lot of playbook reduction to hide Rush. Calls from offensive coordinator Kellen Moore might have been different than they would have been with Prescott, but the Cowboys weren’t conservative when they had the ball. Rush threw 40 times, totaled 325 yards and threw two scores in one of the best starting starts in Cowboys history.
It took a little while for Rush to settle in after learning his starting role only after Prescott was sent off just 90 minutes before kickoff. An interception early in the second quarter wasn’t a good move, but Rush came out shooting in the second half.
A 3rd laser shot down to wide receiver Cedrick Wilson was an accurate pass and Wilson made the rest on a 73-yard touchdown. Dallas trailed 10-3 before that big game, but TD relaxed the Rush and Vikings defense for the remainder of the game.
Moore continued to claim the intermediate passing play for the last 30 minutes and the offense continued to succeed. The Cowboys only shot the ball seven times in the second half, showing they weren’t afraid to hand the game over to Rush.
The Cowboys also found creative ways to move the chains when they needed points. Wilson’s rigged pitch to fellow receiver CeeDee Lamb gained 35 yards and positioned the team for the tying basket in the third quarter.
The offense may not have been as sharp or as explosive as when Prescott is in the middle, but they ultimately didn’t seem crippled by the save.
During the biggest training of the night, the offensive arrived. With the Cowboys down three points and 2:45 remaining in the game, Rush went 6-for-8, throwing for 75 yards and the eventual winning touchdown.
The first big play of practice came when wide receiver Amari Cooper caught a juggled ball three times for a 33-yard catch. This superlative grip allowed the Cowboys to strike within shooting range, but they still had time to try to get into the end zone.
The second key play, and essentially the play of the play, took place during the conversion of the third and 11 via running back Ezekiel Elliott. The discharge throw was designed to come close to a few yards for an equalizer basket. Instead, Elliott split two defenders and carried two more past the first marker to pick up 15 yards to keep the drive alive. Without that conversion, the best result for the Cowboys was field placement and overtime and the uncertainty that comes with it.
The key third play was Rush’s perfect pass to the back corner of the end zone and Cooper’s ability to get him in. The Cowboys could have played it more conservatively, choosing to throw the ball at first base, but they chose to be aggressive and pitch for the score. It’s a winning state of mind.
These were impact games where the Cowboys were right about the money in the waning moments of the game after a few mistakes earlier in the game.
The defense has also done its part. After a rocky start, where they allowed a touchdown in opening practice, the Dallas defense allowed just nine more points. Three field goals was all Dan Quinn’s unit would give up for the rest of the course under difficult circumstances.
The Cowboys also kept quarterback Kirk Cousins on his lowest performance of the season, with just 184 yards, and they held one of the league’s best receivers, Justin Jefferson, to just 21 of two yards. caught.
Like the offense, the defense did their best in the biggest moments of the game.
After the Cowboys’ two turnovers, the defense stiffened and did not allow the Vikings to convert those gifts into points. Not giving up a point when your offense flips him twice near midfield is winning football.
The Cowboys had a few crude late-game penalties to allow the Vikings to descend onto the field to take the lead, but a defensive position in the red zone was another key streak for Dallas. Giving just three points on a first and goal situation was one of the differences in the game.
The bye took the Cowboys two long weeks to prepare to play against the Vikings, and the intrigue surrounding the game was mostly centered on Dak Prescott and his calf injury. The Cowboys, however, never wavered in their belief that they could win with Cooper Rush under center, and it paid off.
The Cowboys have once again proven that you don’t have to play football to win, you just have to make the biggest plays in the biggest moments of the game to achieve a victory.
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