Dallas Cowboys: The defensive numbers
2.9 – Dalvin Cook’s yards per carry in the game after Minnesota’s first possession of the 2nd half (with a long of only 11 yards). Cook entered the game averaging 5.5 yards per carry regardless of the defense he ran against, so it was an ugly looking matchup on paper for a Dallas Cowboys defense that had given up a league-worst 157 yards per game (and at least 200 3 different times). But Dallas did great containing Cook for most of the game.
On Minnesota’s second possession of the second half the Vikings really started leaning on the run game more. During that drive Cook carried the ball for rushes of 5, 13, 5, 5, 8, and 7 yards. He managed 7.3 yards for the rest of the 2nd half until the Minnesota offense ran out of gas.
Still, the Dallas Cowboys were able to hold Cook to less than his season average entering the game (he gained 115 yards vs. a 119 average), and he had to work harder than usual for it (he finished with 4.3 yards per carry vs. his 5.5 average).
As a whole, the 6th ranked Minnesota offense rushes for over 150 yards per game and they were held to only 125 on Sunday afternoon.
At this point we should be glad when an NFL offense doesn’t exceed expectations against this defense.
+1 – The turnover differential for the game.
This is only the second game all season where Dallas has had a positive turnover differential. The other game was against the Eagles (haha) three weeks ago.
That’s 2 games with a positive turnover differential out of the past 3, let’s hope that’s the starting of a trend. The Cowboys actually had an opportunity to end up with a +2 differential, but Xavier Woods either couldn’t intercept Cousins’ 4th down Hail Mary, or just decided that it was better to let it fall incomplete.
Both turnovers were forced by safety Donovan Wilson. The first when he sacked Cousins and ripped the ball out at the same time. The second on a massive hit after Dalvin Cook had just caught a pass. This was right after the Cowboys had turned the ball over on downs with two incompletions in a row with 1-yard to go. Maybe Dallas has found that safety they’ve been looking for?
23 – The yards the Vikings lost due to an illegal shift penalty.
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Early in the 2nd quarter the Vikings lined up to punt on 4th and 10. Dallas switched to their punt block formation a little too soon and Kris Boyd began signaling to the punter that he was uncovered as he hopped closer to the sideline. At the snap Brent Colquitt threw the ball to Boyd for a 23-yard gain. However, because Boyd never stopped hopping for joy that he was wide open, the play didn’t count because he wasn’t set.
Boyd would later drop a game-sealing interception right before Dalton threw the game-winning touchdown to Dalton Schultz.
-1 – The drop in draft position Dallas saw due to this win.
Dallas entered currently holding the #3 selection in the 2021 NFL draft. By the end of the day they had fallen to #4. So if you are a fan who wants Dallas to tank for a top-3 player instead of host a playoff game by winning the worst division in NFL history with a losing record, you may be upset right now.
#4 – The seed the Dallas Cowboys could hold in the NFC playoffs if they beat the Washington Football Team on Thanksgiving. At 4-7 they would immediately go from the #4 pick to the #16 pick with just one win. At least until Sunday when the winner of the Giants-Eagles game will be leading the division no matter what happens on Thursday. This is so 2020.