The Dallas Cowboys won their week 11 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 31-28. They played their best game of football since Dak Prescott went down with an injury. With the Eagles’ loss to the Browns, the Cowboys move one step closer to taking the lead in the NFC East. Below are the NFC East standings after week 11.
NFC East Standings
Ezekiel Elliott is Back
Ezekiel Elliott got his running game going against the Minnesota Vikings. He rushed for 103 yards on 21 carries. His 4.9 yards per carry was the best in any game for Elliott this season. This also marked Elliott’s first 100-yard rushing performance of the season, the longest drought of his career. With another 100-yard rushing performance for Elliott, he has tied Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett for the second-most games with 100+ yards in his first five seasons in Cowboys’ history.
Elliott’s success goes a long way for the Cowboys. His success on the ground almost directly correlates to a Cowboys victory. Throughout Elliott’s five-year career, he has run for 100+ yards in 29 games. In those 29 games, the Cowboys are 24-5. When Elliott is on his game so is the rest of the team as it opens up the rest of the offense for the Cowboys.
The bye week could not have come at a better time for Elliott. For starters, he was battling a hamstring injury that kept him limited in practice. Additionally, he was in such a slump running the football that rumors began circulating if it was time for the Cowboys to trade or cut Elliott. This past week, Elliott put those rumors to rest and showed why the Cowboys need him in the organization.
As a result, his presence on the ground helps the Cowboys be a solid football team even with the loss of Prescott. Elliott will look to bring that momentum into the thanksgiving matchup with Washington.
The Cowboys Defense Has Improved
The Cowboys defense has been much better as of late. Is giving up 28 points the best defensive performance? No, but they did their part against a red-hot Minnesota Vikings team that won three consecutive games. There are still things that need to be cleaned up with the Cowboys defense like getting more sacks and preventing big plays. However, for the most part, Dallas is showing that they have talent on the defensive side of the ball to stop offenses.
Recently, the Cowboys have been limiting opponents early which has led to the team’s success as well. In the past three games, the Cowboys have faced the Eagles, Steelers and Vikings who are all capable of scoring touchdowns consistently. In those three games, the Cowboys have allowed fewer than 10 points in the first half. This is something that has led to Dallas staying in football games late.
Although the Cowboys’ defense has been solid in the first half, they have given up 14+ points in the fourth quarter in back-to-back games. On the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys have to set up and make those key plays to secure the victory. Subsequently, this is what they did against the Vikings this past Sunday. They stopped the Vikings with 1:37 remaining and forced three straight incompletion to win their third game of the year.
The Cowboys need to make those big plays game in and game out.
Andy Dalton Needed Time to Learn Dallas’ Offense
There’s no doubt that Dalton struggled in his first two starts for the Cowboys against the Cardinals and Washington. However, after three weeks of rest from a concussion and recovering from COVID-19, Dalton showed that he has the potential to lead the Cowboys. His three weeks off of football activities allowed him to study the Cowboys playbook extensively.
As a result, he was well-prepared for this matchup and showed just that with his money throws. His first touchdown of the game came in the second quarter when he connected with wide receiver CeeDee Lamb for a four-yard score. Dalton threw the ball and allowed Lamb to make a play. This can be regarded as one of the best catches of the season.
It looks like Dalton just needed additional time to learn the Cowboys’ offense. Following his three-touchdown game against the Vikings, this can be seen as the turning point for Dalton and the offense. Throughout the game, Dalton looked comfortable in the Cowboys’ offense for the first time this season.
Dalton will look for revenge against Washington, who knocked him with a concussion in their last meeting.
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