Week 10: Vikings Shine in the Spotline

So much has been said about Kirk Cousins’ inability to win in prime time or against good teams. Cousin’s record against teams over .500 stood at 5-28 before Sunday night. He came out on fire, leading the Vikings to two opening scores capped off by Kyle Rudolph touchdowns. It is no secret that the Cowboys have struggled to score early in games this season, but it’s looking like it does not have a huge impact on their ability to compete in games. Prescott brought them back into the game in no time, but the Vikings kicked a field goal to head into halftime with a 17-14 lead. The game turned out to be a thriller; both teams were evenly matched and could not separate themselves on the scoreboard. With a minute left in the game, the Cowboys had an opportunity to send a message to the league. They managed to get to the Vikings 11 yard line, but were unable to make it to the end zone and came up short, falling to 5-4.

The final score: 28-24

The player of the game (for the first time in a loss): Dak Prescott.

The Cowboys played to win this game. That’s something that can not be said about their losses to Green Bay, New York, or New Orleans. You could see the effort and desire that the team played with, and up until the last moment, it seemed like they were going to find a way to win the game. Prescott’s effort especially should be noticed. Last week I criticized him for allowing his team to fall behind in so many games, but he has brought them back into the game every single time. He was spectacular on Sunday, throwing for three touchdowns and 397 yards. Prescott has proven to be a leader that Dallas can rally behind, even in the toughest of situations. He may still be looking for consistency in his play, but Prescott’s leadership and poise has to be admired.

As someone who is attempting to be objective, it’s hard to understand why the Cowboys are failing. Before the season began, I highlighted seven “test games” that would determine the potential of the team. So far, the Cowboys are 1-3 in those games. You could argue that they had the ability to win 2 of those three games. Putting up more then 10 points would’ve won them the game in New Orleans. The loss against the Vikings was 11 yards from being a victory. The other two games that the team lost against the Packers and Jets were earned, and shouldn’t be excused. The frustrating thing is that the Cowboys are looking like the standard 8-8 or 9-7 Cowboys team that we’ve become accustomed to seeing over the last decade. Of course there were successful seasons like 2016 or 2014, but the point here is that something has been wrong in Dallas despite the various collections of talent that they have had over the years. It’s hard not to look at the coaching staff as the final change this team needs to make before being considered one of the contenders.

Jason Garrett has to go, but there aren’t any clear options to replace him. He’s 82-62 as Dallas’ head coach, and his tenure has been filled with mediocrity. On the final drive of the game against the Vikings, the Cowboys found themselves at the 11 yard line with a 2nd and 2.They ran the ball twice to the outside and lost yardage, leading to the 4th down pass to Elliott that was broken up by Eric Kendricks. Prescott had bombed the Vikings through the air on that entire drive, and while it does seem reasonable to run in a short distance situation with two downs to spare, Elliott had been silenced for most of the night. He had only rushed for 47 yards on two yards per attempt. The Cowboys got nervous and did not keep throwing, choosing to go with a safer play call, and it cost them the game. That isn’t Prescott’s fault, or Zeke’s, or the offensive line or receiver corp’s. It’s a pure coaching mistake.

The Cowboys have to feel worried about the position they find themselves in. Winning the NFC East is still the key. As of right now the 49ers, Seahawks, Packers and Vikings all have better records. The Rams, Panthers, Eagles and Cowboys are all sitting at 5-4. Dallas still have games against the Bills, Patriots, Eagles and Rams. Their playoff outlook is starting to look bleak, but this weekend’s game in Detroit is very winnable.

Dallas. 34-24 in Week 11

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