Thursday night in the National Football League saw the Dallas Cowboys travel to Minnesota to play against the Minnesota Vikings and even though the Vikings kept the game the close all throughout the evening, it was the Cowboys who left the stadium with another win in their currently remarkable season.
The Cowboys now are 11-1 for the season and currently lead not only the NFC East but the NFL with the best win record. The Vikings, after a 5-0 start, have now lost six of their last seven games and currently sit second in the NFC North with a 6-6 record.
The defenses keep the game interesting
Both defenses can be proud of how they played tonight. For the Vikings, they limited the impact that Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant could have in a game while the Cowboys took away the deep threat posed by Mike Wallace and Sam Bradford's ability to make plays during a scramble.
The Vikings defense forced the Cowboys into three fumbles and sacked Prescott three times during a low scoring game but they could not find the critical turnover which could swing momentum to them to get the win. Minnesota also limited Elliott to just 86 rushing yards and one touchdown which was a feat as Elliott had picked up numerous 100 plus rushing yard games before tonight. The Cowboys defense were well-drilled on the night as well as they limited the Vikings offense to just six out of sixteen third downs and picked up three sacks on Bradford for the night.
A critical turnover puts Dallas in the driving seat
In the fourth quarter, the Vikings were up 9-7 on the Cowboys and seemed to have enough in them to finally stop their poor run of form with a win at home tonight. The story of the the Vikings' season now is critical mistakes at times when they look set to win games and tonight was no different. Wide receiver Adam Thielen fumbled his punt return which was recovered by Dallas in great field position for the Cowboys to make the most of the turnover. They did as Prescott found Bryant with an eight yard touchdown pass and the Cowboys did not let that lead slip.
The Vikings, and in particular Bradford who was playing through a rib injury, did not give up and the quarterback drove his team down the field late in the fourth quarter to pick up a late touchdown through running back Jerick McKinnon. This was all the Vikings could muster as with 25 seconds left, Bradford threw the two-point conversion out of bounds, leaving the Cowboys still in front with little time left. An onside kick recovery by tight end Jason Witten brought the game to a close and the Cowboys pulled off a gritty performance to keep their winning streak going.
Dallas are playoff bound while the Vikings are left scrambling
The Cowboys are now in the driving seat of making the post-season and barring an unexpected collapse in the next five games, should have no problems seeing out the season. If Prescott and Elliott continue their outstanding rookie seasons, the Cowboys fans will no doubt already be dreaming of a Super Bowl run and as of right now, that is looking more and more likely for the Cowboys.
The Vikings have an altogether different scenario facing them. After starting so well, they have slipped further and further away from the post season and with so many teams in the NFC with similar records as the Vikings, they know they have a tough task ahead of them if they want to make the playoffs again this season. They have already lost the season series against the Detroit Lions so if they want to win the division, they will have to hope that other teams stop the Lions from increasing their lead in the NFC North.