MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings and their fan base have a question to ponder after Sunday’s 40-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at Huntington Bank Stadium: Where does the 2022 season go from here?
The Vikings got the attention of the NFL and national pundits after going to Buffalo and getting a 33-30 win in overtime over the Bills and Josh Allen. A week later on national television, they played one of their worst home games in franchise history. So is it just a one-game outlier? Or is there reason for concern with seven regular season games to play?
"It just sucks that we lost this bad. Things happen, it’s the NFL. It’s just the fact that we lost by 37 points at home. It’s just embarrassing being in that type of situation," Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson said Monday. That game was a disaster all around… The message is we got our butt whipped."
Here are takeaways from Sunday’s loss.
THE VIKINGS MISS CHRISTIAN DARRISAW
The unfortunate reality is the Vikings never had a chance against Micah Parsons and the Cowboys’ defense. It didn’t help that Christian Darrisaw left the game after allowing his second sack, entered the concussion protocol and did not return. Darrisaw has a concussion for the second time in as many weeks, and now concern grows for his long-term health.
Without the standout left tackle, Kirk Cousins was sacked a career-high seven times. He was pressured on 57 percent of his passing attempts. He never got the time to survey a defense and look for Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen or T.J. Hockenson. The Vikings’ offensive line got manhandled, and that has to change in a hurry.
THE VIKINGS MISS DALVIN TOMLINSON
Dalvin Tomlinson has been battling a calf injury, but got promising news Monday as he’s limited on the injury report. Without him Sunday, the Vikings had difficulty getting pressure on Dak Prescott, and couldn’t stop the run. Without him, Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott combined for 122 yards on the ground, and a pair of touchdowns for Elliott. The Cowboys ran for 151 yards, and the run defense needs to tighten up going forward.
HUGE DAY FOR TONY POLLARD
The Vikings simply had no answer for Tony Pollard. He’s the Cowboys No. 2 running back behind Elliott, but they schemed him to a big game on Sunday. In addition to 15 carries for 80 yards, he led Dallas in receiving with six catches for 109 yards and two scores. He was left uncovered in the flat and beat Patrick Peterson down the sideline for a 30-yard touchdown late in the first half.
On 3rd-and-15 to open the second half, Pollard beat Jordan Hicks for a 68-yard touchdown. It was the early knockout punch, giving the Cowboys a 30-3 lead.
WILL THEY BOUNCE BACK ON A SHORT WEEK?
Sunday’s game was the second-most lopsided home loss in franchise history. It got so bad that CBS cut away from the game nationally, and most starters watched the fourth quarter from the sideline. Players in the locker room after said all the right things, they want to get back on the field Thursday night and show that performance isn’t who they are. How they respond from this loss will tell a lot about the rest of the season.
IS IT A ONE-GAME OUTLIER, OR CAUSE FOR CONCERN?
The Cowboys found the perfect formula to beat the Vikings. They imposed their will at the line of scrimmage, and put pressure on Kirk Cousins to take the passing game away. The Vikings two losses this season are by a combined 64-10, after losing Week 2 at Philadelphia 24-7.
They’ve won eight games, and won seven straight games before Sunday that were all within one possession in the fourth quarter. They got embarrassed on their home field a week after an emotional road win, and get the national spotlight again Thursday night. They still control the NFC North, and are the No. 2 seed in the NFC. The hope is it’s a one-game outlier where everything that could go wrong did. If they lose to the Patriots at home, then doubt creeps in.
Football is all about response, so we’ll find out how they respond on Thanksgiving.