Wow. Just wow. The 8-1 Minnesota Vikings fall to 8-2 after being absolutely beaten to death by the now 7-3 Dallas Cowboys 40-3. Coming off of a very strong display against the Buffalo Bills, this was a very bad result for the Vikings. It ran confusion throughout the fanbase and NFL as the Vikings seemed to have just proved themselves as a legit contender for the Super Bowl this year.
If this article were written just to be vague I would say that the offense and defense both played terribly; which is true, but there are people to blame more than others. So who is to blame for this atrocious performance? Let’s break this down.
You look at the scoreboard and think everyone on the offense is to blame. 3 points? Really? You see that and think Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson had the absolute worst game of their respective careers; but you’d be wrong.
The Offensive Line had an absolutely terrible game, looking lost on every snap. On the first drive of the game, LT Christian Darrisaw let up his first sack of the season which ended up in a fumble by Kirk Cousins and a Cowboys recovery. Darrisaw would exit later in the 1st Quarter with his second concussion in 8 days. Darrisaw would be replaced by Blake Brandel who struggled against Micah Parsons for the remainder of the game. Rookie RG Ed Ingram continued his struggling season by allowing a few more sacks and QB pressures by Cowboys interior linemen. LG Ezra Cleveland and C Garrett Bradburry looked lost on the field for the first time in a long time this season, giving up a few pressures of their own. RT Brian O’Neil seemed to be the only Offensive Lineman that could keep himself in check, only giving up a couple QB pressures and none of those to Micah Parsons.
NFL fans will be quick to blame Kirk Cousins for this loss, but the simple fact is that he just did not have any time to get rid of the ball because his Offensive Line struggled immensely. Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and TJ Hockenson were shut down by Dallas’ stellar secondary, and Dalvin Cook didn’t actually have a bad game, racking up 11 carries for 72 yards and a 6.2 yard average.
The defense the entire game was an absolute mess. The defensive line couldn’t give Dak Prescott any pressure, Tony Pollard ripped apart both the Viking defense in both the pass and run game for 189 scrimmage yards and 2 TDs, and the cornerbacks could not get a break against Dallas’ pass offense.
Linebackers Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks have had quite the year together so far in Minnesota. Hicks has been a great addition to a Vikings linebacker group that was in need of a replacement after the departure of Anthony Barr. However, this week just wasn’t it for this pairing. As most linebackers, these two were responsible for the running back coming out of the backfield on pass plays. Tony Pollard had no problem getting around Kendricks and Hicks, who are typically great tacklers, and exploding for 109 total receiving yards. Kendricks totaled three tackles in the loss while Hicks totaled six. Compared to each of their past performances, not great.
Interior Defensive Line
With starting Nose Tackle Dalvin Tomlinson out for the second week in a row, Minnesota once again split gametime between the rest of their defensive tackles, which didn’t work in Buffalo, and didn’t work against Dallas. The Vikings used five different linemen in the game including Jonathan Bullard (51% of snaps), Ross Blacklock (24% of snaps), Harrison Phillips (64% of snaps), James Lynch (54% of snaps), and Kyiris Tonga (44% of snaps). The most tackles out of the linemen was Harrison Phillips, who was also the primary lineman that game. This defensive line is quite young, Phillips being the only player who has made an NFL start before this season, and they are not known for their QB pressures, or getting to the ball. Tony Pollard had 80 rush yards as he exploded mostly in the air, but still an impressive game for him on the ground, whole Ezekiel Elliott had 42 yards and 2 touchdowns. The interior defensive line just couldn’t stuff the run this game, and couldn’t produce tackles when needed.
Andrew Booth Jr.
With both Cameron Dantzler and Akayleb Evans out of the starting lineups due to injuries, the Vikings had to turn to 5th String Cornerback, and 2nd Round Pick in the 2022 draft, Andrew Booth Jr. Making his first career start, we all kind of knew that Booth was going to start off a little shaky. The Cowboys were able to take advantage of this weakness in the Vikings secondary and targeted Booth with almost every throw that Dak attempted. Booth primarily covered Michael Gallup throughout the game and let up 91 yards on 8 receptions (not all to Michael Gallup).
Well, there you go. There are some of the worst performers from the Vikings horrible horrible loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Blame them all you want, but the Vikings have been notorious for being blown out after winning huge matchups. Just think of the Minneapolis Miracle; got blown out by the Eagles the next week. Kirk’s first playoff game with Minnesota vs. New Orleans; they got blown out by the 49ers the next week. And even this year after beating the Packers in Week 1; they got blown out by the Eagles the next week.
Vikings fans can only hope for their luck to change next week as the Vikings have only four days to recover from the loss, as they host the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving for Week 12.