Cook leads Vikings to 28-24 prime-time road win over Cowboys
Dalvin Cook did plenty in the running game.
The NFL rushing leader from Minnesota might have had his biggest plays in the passing game while easily outshining two-time rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott.
Cook ran for 97 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown on fourth down on the final play of the third quarter, and had 86 yards receiving that boosted three other scoring drives, leading the Vikings over the Dallas Cowboys 28-24 on Sunday night.
Cook’s 183 scrimmage yards gave him the league lead in that category as well at 1,415 as the Vikings (7-3) beat a winning team on the road for the first time in almost two years. Minnesota was 0-9-1 in its previous 10 such games.
“Dalvin handled everything great,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “He played outstanding. Had some unbelievable runs, tough, competitive runs. I think Dalvin believes that he’s really good. I believe that too.”
Amari Cooper had the most circus catches on a night full of them for both teams, including a toe-tapping TD for Dallas’ only lead in the third quarter.
Kirk Cousins threw for two touchdown passes, both to Kyle Rudolph, for just his second victory in nine prime-time road games.
But Minnesota’s offensive star was Cook, who set up the first two Minnesota touchdowns for a 14-0 lead with catches of 27 and 29 yards on screens and got a first down with an 8-yarder early on the third scoring drive.
“We thought it was going to be a challenge to get some explosive screens and get some explosive runs in this game to have a chance, and I think we checked those two boxes,” Cousins said. “That’s a big reason why we’re standing here with a win instead of a loss.”
Elliott had 47 yards on 20 carries after three straight 100-yard games as the Cowboys (5-4) fell into a first-place tie with Philadelphia in the NFC East.
“From the standpoint of numbers, from the standpoint of where you stand, this was a big game for us, and it’s going to make it that much harder to get where we want to go,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
Despite throwing for 397 yards and three touchdowns, Prescott lost to Cousins for the first time after going 4-0 against the former Washington quarterback as a division rival.
“We had to make them be one-dimensional,” Zimmer said. “I wish we had played better in pass defense than what we did. I thought we did a really good job with our run fits and the way that we tackled.”
Cousins, who had 220 yards passing, beat the Cowboys for the second time in eight tries as the Vikings kept pace in the NFC North, a game behind division-leading Green Bay.
Trailing by four in the final two minutes, the Cowboys had a first down at the Minnesota 19 but insisted on continuing to force the ball to Elliott when the Vikings had made it clear they were stopping him first.
Two runs netted minus-3 yards, and the Cowboys went to Elliott again on fourth down even though it was a pass. Linebacker Eric Kendricks broke up the sideline throw to Elliott, a dual threat like Cook but not on this night. He had two catches for 16 yards.
The Cowboys got the ball back with 17 seconds left, but Jayron Kearse intercepted Prescott’s desperation pass from near midfield in the end zone.
Dallas was down by four because of settling for a field goal and a 28-24 deficit after having a first down at the Minnesota 6. Another smothered run by Elliott was followed by two incompletions.
Rudolph started the night of circus catches with a one-handed grab in the back of the end zone and scored on another short TD toss.
Then the tight end put Minnesota up 28-21 after Cook’s scoring run by winning a jump ball with cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. Rudolph’s 14 points were the most in 122 career games for the ninth-year player.
With the Cowboys trailing 14-0, Cooper kick-started their first TD drive with a heel-dragging catch on third-and-12, followed two plays later by Michael Gallup’s 23-yard scoring grab.
Then the player Dallas gave up a first-round pick for at midseason last year had two toe-dragging catches in a row, the second a 12-yard touchdown that put the Cowboys in front for the first time 21-20 in the third quarter. Cooper had 11 catches for 147 yards.
Randall Cobb made a lunging catch in the end zone on a 22-yard touchdown catch to get Dallas even at 14.
BLOWOUT ON GROUND
While Cook outgained Elliott by 120 scrimmage yards, the Vikings finished with 153 yards rushing to just 50 for the Cowboys. That’s about 100 yards below Dallas’ third-ranked rushing average.