There were a lot of ingredients that ultimately made up the Minnesota Vikings 40-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 11.
My grandfather is a creature of habit. He is best known amongst his friends and family for his stubbornness, impatience, and, most importantly, his meatballs. His meatballs best resemble the man my grandfather is.
They are hard and crusty on the outside from the way they are fried, but they are soft and tender on the inside. My grandfather is a man with a loud bark and a warmer heart.
His meatballs are incredible, a recipe that I am blessed to have handed down to me. I will not share the details, but I have seen this man passing them out at weddings, church services, and even at funerals by popular demand. There are a few key ingredients that give these meatballs their iconic taste.
Minnesota Vikings loss to the Dallas Cowboys had a lot of ingredients
Down a few starters in some key positions, turnovers, and some schematic errors, it created the perfect storm to one of the biggest blowout losses for the Minnesota Vikings in the franchise’s history.
The absence of starting defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson has been hurting the Vikings for the past two weeks. The Buffalo Bills ran the ball effectively against Minnesota in Week 10, and the Dallas Cowboys watched that tape, which led to them deciding they would come out and pound the ball down the Vikings‘ throats.
Cowboys running backs Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott each ran 15 times this past Sunday for a combined 122 yards. They were getting whatever they wanted on the ground. Dallas also went 12-for-17 on third down, with most of those conversions coming in the first half.
The Cowboys dominated Minnesota on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Dallas’ defensive line generated 16 pressures, and their offense consistently moved the Vikings’ defensive line out of place.
On a key third down coming out of the half, Minnesota had the Cowboys facing a 3rd-and-14, looking like they were preparing to get the ball back down 23-3.
The Vikings came out in a cover-2 look. At the top of the screen, Minnesota corner Andrew Booth Jr. starts to drop with his man, but then he sees someone entering his zone in the flat, and he passes it off.
Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson runs with the linebacker, as with this 3×1 look Dallas is in, he deems it unlikely for anyone to enter his zone.
Pollard comes out of the backfield on a wheel route, and with Peterson running deep, Minnesota linebacker Jordan Hicks has no choice but to run with the running back which is a mismatch given Pollard’s speed. The result was a 68-yard touchdown pass from Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott to Pollard.
Cover 2 vs. trips is a difficult matchup because it spreads the defense thin across the field. Whereas cover 2 against a 2×2 formation has the defense evenly spaced against the offense.
Earlier in the game, on Dallas’ second offensive possession, the Vikings had a chance to get the Cowboys’ offense off the field in a 3-3 ballgame. Dallas picked on the rookie Booth and ran a slant to wide receiver Michael Gallup, picking up 14 yards and a Cowboys first down on 3rd-and-3. Dallas would go on to take the lead at 10-3 and never look back.
Minnesota made plenty of mistakes throughout the game, and they got themselves playing catch-up early. Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell had said before the matchup he wanted to win “on our terms,” but the team found themselves outside of their game plan from the get-go, and they never got on track.
It was a weird game, certainly a performance that Minnesota will learn from and bounce back from.
There were a lot of ingredients that led to the result of this game, a series of unfortunate events that led to a blowout. However, this game will not affect the next matchup on the Vikings’ schedule against the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving, as every NFL game is different than the one before it.
This is what makes the league so difficult. No matter how good a team might be or how much they are struggling, each week is a different week, and any team can beat any team.
Expect Minnesota to play with a chip on their shoulder on Thursday and come out firing against the Patriots.