'It's a lineman's dream': Vikings use strong run game to beat Cowboys

Dalvin Cook #33 of the Minnesota Vikings runs against the Dallas Cowboys including Leighton Vander Esch #55 and Xavier Woods #25 at AT&T Stadium on November 10, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. ((Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images))

Garrett Bradbury said Monday “it’s a lineman’s dream.”

After the Dallas Cowboys scored to take a 21-20 lead over the Minnesota Vikings in the third quarter Sunday night, the Vikings were determined to respond. They answered, and it’s how they did it that made the Vikings’ prime time win at AT&T Stadium that much more impressive.

Kirk Cousins hit Bisi Johnson for a 15-yard gain and a first down. Then, the Vikings ran the ball 10 straight times. They ran it down the Cowboys’ throat and got to the 1-yard line. It was 4th-and-goal. The Vikings weren’t about to settle for three points.

Dalvin Cook, the Vikings’ workhorse and the best running back in the NFL, got the call. His offensive line gave him a hole, and he walked into the end zone on one of the biggest plays of the game. It gave the Vikings a 28-21 lead after Kyle Rudolph’s two-point conversion.

Cook and Alexander Mattison combined for 63 rushing yards on the 80-yard drive.

“We were just in a really good rhythm, I felt like we were just getting 5, 6, 10-yard carries and our running backs were doing an awesome job. Tight ends, receivers, it was everyone involved,” Bradbury said. And to finish that off with a touchdown, that was just really exciting.”

After having a lead in the last 10 minutes at Kansas City, Mike Zimmer wasn’t about to let Sunday’s game slip away. He put the ball largely in the hands of his best offensive player, and the offensive line gave Cook holes to get yardage in chunks.

Cook finished the night with 97 yards on 26 carries. He’s now nine yards shy of 1,000 for the season. He’s becoming a bigger weapon every week in the passing game as well. He was the Vikings’ leading receiver Sunday with seven catches for 86 yards, largely in the screen game.

“Sunday Night Football, this is the moment you live for. Cherish these moments. That’s what it looks like right there, that’s the blueprint right there,” Cook told reporters after the win. “Physical football, downhill, let’s get the job done.”

Ten games into the season, Cook has 1,415 total yards. Zimmer made sure the best player on his offense was getting the ball in the crucial moments. Not only is it a dream scenario for the offensive line to have Cook run the ball consistently, it’s the way Zimmer prefers to win games.

“A week ago we’re up by three with 10 minutes left and lost the game. This time we were up by four and we won the game. We’re moving in the right direction, we just gotta keep moving,” Zimmer said Monday.

The Cowboys entered the game averaging allowing about 103 rushing yards per game. The Vikings ran for 153 yards, and averaged 4.3 yards per carry.

They got the win despite Dak Prescott throwing for 397 yards and three touchdowns, and making big plays against the Vikings’ secondary. Zimmer didn’t seem overly concerned about his defense Monday, rather giving credit to Prescott making big throws and his receivers making big catches.

Zimmer also said Monday he expects cornerback Trae Waynes to return this week. He was inactive for Sunday night’s game with an ankle injury. He sounded cautiously optimistic about nose tackle Linval Joseph, who missed the game after reportedly having knee surgery last week.

Without Waynes and Joseph, the Vikings limited Ezekiel Elliott to just 47 yards on 20 carries, 2.4 yards per carry.