Minnesota Vikings Defense Hung Out to Dry

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

In arguably the best defensive performance by any team all season, the Minnesota Vikings overshadowed their defense with a poor performance in every other phase of the game.

The Minnesota Vikings defense effectively held Dallas to just seven points. On top of that, they really only made one mistake all game on a 56 yard pass to Dez Bryant on a double move bit by Harrison Smith.

Other than a late long run, the Vikings held MVP candidate Ezekiel Elliot to just 56 yards. Perhaps even more impressive was their complete dominance of Dallas’ offensive line which has been rightfully touted as the best in the league.

On top of that, the Minnesota Vikings defense held Dak Prescott to just 124 passing yards. They sacked him three times for 15 yards. In total, the best offense in the league only managed to scrape 264 yards total on 13 possessions.

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In just three of those 13 possessions, Dallas managed to get multiple first downs.

In other words, the Vikings defense played a fantastic game that the numbers simply cannot capture. The Cowboys did end up scoring 17, but one touchdown was a result of a red zone muffed punt by Adam Thielen and their field goal came after a miserably short Jeff Locke punt.

Offensive woes

The Cowboys gave the Vikings three early opportunities to score. Never mind the fact that they should have converted their gifted field position into touchdowns–it would have been nice even if they scored field goals.

After two Dallas punts and a fumble, the Vikings found themselves at midfield all three times–they managed one field goal. In all three possessions, the Vikings shot themselves in the foot. Whether it was offensive pass interference on Cordarrelle Patterson, false starts, holding penalties or a fumbled snap, the Vikings threw away every pinch of rhythm they acquired.

After those first three floundered possessions, the Vikings defense remained strong, forcing three more punts. They did allow the aforementioned 56 yard pass to Bryant followed by a touchdown, but it didn’t phase their toughness and resolve.

Still, the Vikings offense didn’t convert any of those drives, again with good field position, into points.

After, the Vikings offense managed to score two field goals before and after a clutch forced fumble by Brian Robison.

Proceeding some unfortunate events on special teams, the Vikings punted again, but the defense still managed to stay strong and force a Dallas punt. Following that, the Vikings drove the ball all the way down the field using some surprising mobility from Sam Bradford.

They made it all the way down to the red zone and scored on a Jerick McKinnon touchdown. To tie the game, they needed to convert a two-point conversion. Surprise, surprise–another false start made the attempt even more difficult at seven yards instead of two. With a chance to send the game to over time, Sam Bradford treated the all-or-nothing play like a first and goal and sailed his pass five yards too high out of the end zone.

Bradford does not deserve to be maligned for his performance, however. In fact, he played fantastic. His offensive line couldn’t block or stay disciplined with several penalties. His receivers dropped two perfectly-thrown passes–one for a touchdown and one for a clutch first down.


Throughout NFL games, there are always blown calls for both teams. It simply wouldn’t make sense to blame this loss on officiating. However, the referee whose one job it is to watch the quarterback, missed a blatent contact to the head on Bradford that would have given the Vikings another shot at the two point conversion.

Special teams uncharacteristically fails

One simply cannot place the blame for these special teams mistakes on interim coach Mike Priefer. He has his hands full, and all the mistakes were individual head-scratchers.

The biggest mistake of all erased an incredible defensive performance. Finally with the lead at 9-7, the Vikings had an opportunity to extend it. The defense forced a punt at midfield. Adam Thielen opted to return it and fumbled. That gave the Cowboys a first and goal in the red zone against a frankly exhausted defense.

The second worst mistake(s) of the game goes to punter Jeff Locke. He averaged an abysmal 32 yards per punt. He was certainly responsible for three points, and it could have been more had the defense not bailed him out.

Next: KAT is Tired of Losing

As previously stated, arguably the best defensive performance by any team all year was wiped out by absolutely no support on special teams or offense. George Edwards, the defensive coordinator, coached extremely well and no one will remember it. Even worse: this game makes the playoffs even more completely dependent on other teams for the Minnesota Vikings.