Cowboys 31, Vikings 28: 10 'Whitty' Observations On Quirky Stay-Alive Win

Richie Whitt

Dallas Cowboys 31, Minnesota Vikings 28 in a Week 11 NFL Sunday at Minneapolis full of spectacular offensive plays ... and stay-alive visitors' effort. 

My 10 "Whitty" Observations from a fun start to Thanksgiving week.

10. You know you’re having a quirky–mostly underwhelming year–when your team has five consecutive touchdown passes thrown by five different quarterbacks. The order? Cedric Wilson. Dak Prescott. Andy Dalton. Garrett Gilbert. Andy Dalton.

9. Sorry, homers, Adam Thielen’s touchdown catch was better than CeeDee Lamb’s touchdown catch. It’s not even really close.

Lamb’s adjustment to the ball was definitely better. Amazing. But he made a two-handed catch falling on his back in the middle of the end zone. Thielen’s snag was with one hand, diving out of bounds, having to tap both toes. And this is admittedly very nit-picky, but wouldn’t Lamb’s catch have been much simpler and easy if he had just turned over his right shoulder?

Still though ... both fun.

8. Seriously now, is it in Tony Pollard’s contract to at least once per game run a kickoff from five yards deep out of the end zone and get tackled inside the 15?

After the Vikings scored to start the third quarter, Pollard’s consistent brain cramp aided their momentum with a return to Dallas’ 12. The ensuing punt led to more Minnesota punts. 

The Cowboys aren’t good enough to be stupid. 

Pollard’s speed and “juice” are assets, evidenced by his 42-yard touchdown run. Pollard running out of his own end zone? Bad. Pollard running into the opponent’s end zone? Good.

Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott helped Dallas rush for 180 yards. Also helpful? Zack Martin moving to right tackle (with Connor McGovern starting at guard and Terence Steele moving to the bench).

"Zack's a hell of a player," Zeke said. "We kept running behind him, and he kept moving out of the way."

7. 2020 is a bad year for, among other things, beer. We all know about Corona and the virus. And on Dallas’ late drive Dalton audibled into “Heineken,” which resulted in Cam Erving rocking out of his stance for a five-yard penalty.

6. Down 28-24 and punting to the Vikings with 6:01 remaining, I had minimal faith. The Vikings had scored easily on their three second-half possessions. But a coaching staff that has been rightly maligned made some brilliant calls down the stretch. 

Not blitzing on defense confused Kirk Cousins, who threw two incompletions to stall Minnesota’s drive. Having the guts to run Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard on the ensuing drive. Having Dalton throw to Amari Cooper with the game on the line. And, of course, calling the unlikely number of Dalton Schultz for the winning touchdown. Of all Dallas’ weapons, the Vikings–like you–were least concerned about No. 86.

5. Just when we were all lamenting the long lost Jeff Heath winning AFC Defensive Player of the Week with two interceptions for the Raiders, Donovan Wilson suddenly starts channeling his inner James Washington. 

Wearing the same No. 37 as the play-making safety from the 1990s glory days, Wilson set up 10 first-half points with a sack-and-steal from Kirk Cousins and then a pop that prompted a fumble from Dalvin Cook. 

Hopefully Wilson’s heavy-hitting game is more of an arrival than an asterisk. Coach Mike McCarthy is now a believer.

“He’s a stud,'' McCarthy said. "I just love the way he plays—always on the football.”

4. Hard to complain when your 2-7 has a halftime lead on the road.

But … 

The Cowboys could have realistically been ahead 24-7–instead of 16-7–after two quarters. They had an extra point blocked. Dalton threw an interception in the Red Zone. And Amari Cooper was tackled at the half-yard line after a long catch with eight seconds remaining.

3. Just when you’re thinking to yourself, “Wait, the Cowboys look like legit NFL team today,” this happens. Somebody named Rashard Robinson, a just-called-up guy, found himself matched up one-on-one with Thielen. 

Just don’t understand how a veteran, credible coaching staff allows that to happen. 

Thielen, of course, easily beat Robinson for a touchdown catch that gave the Vikings their first lead of the day at 21-16. 

But in the end, yeah, the Cowboys did indeed look like a legit team today.

2. If the Cowboys did one thing right in 2020 it was to draft Lamb.

Dude is a playmaker, and a tough one at that. He helped Dallas to a halftime lead with a gutsy “Jet Sweep” run to convert a 4th-and-2, then with that acrobatic adjustment and catch for a touchdown. 

While Michael Gallup’s drops are back, Lamb now owns the record for most catches by a Cowboys’ rookie.

1. The Hail Mary in 1975. Roger Staubach’s walk-off scramble touchdown in 1977. Tony Dorsett’s 99-yard touchdown in 1983. Cowboys have a lot of warm-’n-fuzzy memories in Minneapolis. Dalton’s 10-yard completion to Cooper on fourth-and-six doesn’t exactly belong on the list, but it kept the game-winning drive alive, set up Schultz’s touchdown and–in the NFC Least–breathed life into a seemingly lost season.

"We need to do something with this win,'' coach Mike McCarthy said. "We need to build off this win. It needs to mean something."

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