Vikings staying focused on Cowboys after 8-1 start, 7-game win streak

The Minnesota Vikings are 8-1 and have won seven straight games, and there’s certainly a new energy around the team at TCO Performance Center.

But don’t expect an emotional letdown against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday after a thrilling win over the Buffalo Bills. They did their celebrating on the plane ride home, with Patrick Peterson sporting the chains shirtless. The reality is despite the excitement around their 8-1 start, they haven’t done anything yet. There’s still eight games to go.

"If we focus on anything outside of our preparation for the Dallas Cowboys, I think I’d be doing a disservice to our team. I think our players understand that as well," Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell said Wednesday. "This thing has a way of playing out where I believe the teams that deserve to be talked about will be talked about in the end."

The Vikings went to Buffalo with plenty of doubters. They were 7-1, but the national view was one that they hadn’t done anything yet. They’ve taken care of bad teams, made some games more interesting than they had to be but ultimately did what they had to do to win.

Now, despite being one of the top teams in the NFL after Washington handed Philadelphia its first loss of the season, the doubters remain. The Vikings are currently 1.5-point underdogs at home against the Cowboys on Sunday, and it's the first of three straight home games for Minnesota.

The talk is just that, talk.

"We don’t listen to that anyway. We just look at the preparation every week, go out and perform well. Blocking the outside noise out, because they’re going to say what they say anyway, good or bad," running back Dalvin Cook said. "Regardless of what they’re saying, we still gotta go out and perform each and every week. That’s our mindset."

They’re saying all the right things ahead of hosting the Cowboys. They’re not buying into newly-found hype, they don’t care about more national attention and they won’t change what’s gotten them to 8-1. Back in 2018 after an emotional walk-off win over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, the Vikings never got off that high and went to Philadelphia for the NFC title game, and were sent home with a 38-7 loss.

This circumstance is different. It was a regular season game on the road against an AFC team, and it doesn’t mean much of the Vikings don’t keep winning. They have control of the NFC North, and can inch closer to home field in the playoffs with every win they get. Quarterback Kirk Cousins said the key is in the routine.

"I live such an insulated life that I have no idea that that’s going on. I understand that’s your world, that’s what you do. To me this feels the same right here as it does every week. The team meeting felt the same, lunch felt the same, walk-through feels the same. I go to my house, I play with my kids, I come back here and I grind. It’s a really boring back and forth," Cousins said. "No matter what’s going on outside, you just keep putting in the work. You have your routine, you have your process and you just don’t deviate."

The biggest change in the Vikings is their ability to close out games in the fourth quarter, something they struggled with all last season. They had 14 of their 17 games come down to one possession, and went 6-8 in those games.

So far this season, their seven straight wins have all been close games in crunch time.

"Understand the reason why we’ve had the success that we’ve had, and when things get difficult, the best parts of this team come out. I do believe it’s because of our preparation and attention to detail," O’Connell said.

In their seven wins, Cousins has engineered five fourth quarter drives to either get the Vikings a victory or force overtime.

"I wish I could give you this great, succinct answer as to why we’ve found the inches so far this year more than the previous year. I don’t have a great answer, but the fact remains we have and that’s really why we’re standing here with the record we are," Cousins said. "Being battle-tested is a good thing for us."


The Vikings held a light practice without pads on Wednesday at TCO Performance Center to start preparations against the Cowboys. They had a physical game at Buffalo, and will have two games in a five-day stretch between Dallas, and hosting the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving.

Christian Darrisaw and Akayleb Evans did not practice, still in the concussion protocol. Dalvin Tomlinson (calf) did not practice, and Justin Jefferson (toe) and Za’Darius Smith (knee) were limited. The Vikings will be back in pads on Thursday.