By Patrick P. Marek
Dallas 31, Vikings 28
So much for the “easy” part of the schedule. Have you noticed that every time the media hypes up the Vikings, they play down to the competition? Sunday they did it again, coming out flat against a Dallas team that was 2-7 and whom they were heavily favored to beat. After two turnovers and a bunch of strange penalties, the Vikings were down 16-7 at the half. The second half was a different story.
Minnesota came out firing on all cylinders and made the game a very entertaining shootout. Unfortunately, they ran out of bullets at the end of the game when the defense fell apart and Cousins and the offense couldn’t muster up a crucial scoring drive with under two minutes left to play.
Cousins had a brilliant game … on paper. He threw three touchdown passes in the last 25 minutes and completed 22 of 32 for 314 yards. He lost a fumble when he was sacked in the first half, but that was caused by a helmet-to-helmet blow that was not called by the officials. But in the end he was like the Kirk Cousins CINNAMINN SNAPS being marketed by a local grocery chain (they are not exactly flying off the shelves, by the way). He can deliver a sweet performance for most of the game and fill you up with a positive stat-line, but in the end he often leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
It’s unfair to totally blame Cousins for the loss. There were plenty of scapegoat candidates in this game. Usually sure-handed rookie sensation Justin Jefferson dropped an easy first down on the final drive. Second-year cornerback Chris Boyd might have one of the most unfortunate performances against the Cowboys since Nate Wright let Drew Pearson push off for the league’s first “Hail Mary” touchdown. Boyd didn’t get set on a beautiful fake punt, then committed an illegal block during the ensuing punt (something that almost never happens to the kicking team), and then dropped a sure interception in the end zone that would have iced the game for Minnesota. That is quite a day’s work. Another Vikings cornerback, Chris Jones is taking a lot of heat today for practicing social distancing and refusing to try to tackle the Cowboys’ Tony Pollard on a touchdown run late in the game that was way too easy. The offensive line without rookie guard Ezra Cleveland was dominated at the point of attack, and the defensive line wore down in the second half and couldn’t stop a Cowboys running attack that had been MIA this season.
Yes, there is a lot of blame to go around, but then you have Kirk Cousins, who couldn’t bring home the bacon, or pour milk on the cereal, or whatever other breakfast metaphor you care to invoke. When the lights get too bright, Cousins tends to wilt …except when he doesn’t. He is inconsistent even in his inconsistency. One thing is for certain: Franchise quarterbacks don’t wilt. They may not always win, but they always seem to give their best performance, and inspire the best performances from those around them, with the game on the line. Patrick Mahomes has it. Tom Brady has it. Even “Two Minute” Tommy Kramer had it. Kirk Cousins will never be that guy, and that’s sad because he has some truly gifted players around him, and we are stuck with him for at least another year.
Dalvin Cook had a heroic performance, piling up 115 tough yards on 27 carries and a touchdown. Cook showed how tough he was by coming back on the field after a collision that shattered his facemask. Adam Thielen had two touchdown receptions, including one of the prettiest one-handed catches you will ever see. Justin Jefferson once again proved that he is a special talent that Minnesota fans will get to enjoy for years to come.
Thanksgiving is this Thursday, and I want to thank all the readers of this column for your loyalty, and also for your helpful comments (you know who you are). Please take note of the bars and restaurants whose advertising supports these pages. Please consider helping them out by purchasing gift cards or carry-out to help them navigate these challenging times … and don’t forget to stay purple, my friends!