Alright so I will admit it! I was very wrong on my Week 13 TNF prediction. I thought the Cowboys were going to run the ball down the throats of the Vikings. The game ended up being a sloppy, but very watchable mess. The Cowboys managed to squeak out a 17-15 win in Minnesota with the game coming down to a 2-point conversion attempt by the Vikings.
The Cowboys looked tired and the offense sputtered throughout the night. The offense gained 264 yards on night with the bulk (140 yards) coming from rushing. I did predict that Dallas would have success running the ball but they could not convert on 3rd down to extend drives. Dallas ended up being 1-9 on third down conversions. One third down towards the end of the game turned into a turnover due to an aborted snap that Dak couldn’t fall on in time. It was a penalty riddled, muddled game for the Dallas offense.
The Cowboy defense held with a bend, don’t break mentality through the majority of the night. The biggest hold came on the 2-point conversion previously mentioned. Both teams managed 3 sacks a piece which is very impressive for the Vikings pass rush against the highly-touted Cowboys offensive line. Overall the Cowboys did what was to be expected. They took what was given to them and capitalized on the mistakes of the Vikings.
The Vikings defense held to its standard by holding strong throughout the game. Minnesota limited big plays from one of the hottest offenses in the league. It could be expected that Dallas would score but the strong pass defense from Minnesota held its opponent to only 139 passing yards on the night. That is the lowest Dak has thrown for all season but I believe that is due to a combination of traveling, playing against a tough defense, and a short rest week.
The Vikings offense looked efficient throughout the night. They maintained possession of the ball for 33:17 but couldn’t seem to finish drives. Sam Bradford finished the night with 247 passing yards and a TD. Bradford left in the middle of the game due to an apparent injury but later stated there was nothing to be concerned about. He simply had the “wind knocked out of him.” Bradford was overall efficient but as seen throughout the season can’t seem to get his team over the hump in tight games. Also the Vikings failed to eclipse 100 yards rushing but managed 87 yards on 19 attempts.
The final 3 minutes of the game were wild as the Cowboys came up short on a Prescott scramble 2nd down after a Minnesota challenge. The next play the Cowboys fumbled giving the ball back and expectedly the Vikings marched down the field and scored. Then came to 2-point conversion. Bradford failed to find his receiver but the Vikings were looking for a penalty as the replay showed what was a hit to Bradford’s head. I agree with the no call because it wasn’t malicious but if I were a Vikings fan I’d be wondering why other QBs like Tom Brady get those calls while my slightly average QB doesn’t.
Regardless the game yielded quality TV ratings. The game posted a 14.1 overnight rating which is the 2nd highest rated TNF game in history. So here’s what I noticed from this past Thursday Night Game. Fans have to realize that the quality of the game is going to be low but at the same time the NFL has to realize if they want to have success with TNF games they need to schedule match-ups between quality teams. We will see the ratings trend continues for the NFL next week as the Oakland Raiders travel to take on their AFC West rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs, next Thursday night.