ARLINGTON, Texas — Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, go-ahead touchdown run.
That was the sequence on the final 10 plays of Minnesota's scoring drive at the end of the third quarter of an eventual 28-24 win on Sunday Night Football.
Pre-game question: Would the Vikings find success in the run game and limit the Cowboys rush attack?
The Vikings knew the importance of having success in the running game and limiting the Cowboys rush attack.
But knowing something and being able to do it are two different things.
Minnesota did both, racking up 153 yards on 36 carries and allowing just 50 yards on 22 runs by the Cowboys. That's an average of 4.3 yards per carry by Minnesota and 2.3 per run by Dallas.
There is perhaps no better manifestation of Minnesota's goals becoming a reality than on the 13-play, 75-yard drive that Dalvin Cook finished with a 2-yard touchdown run.
The Vikings ran at will for gains of 4, 6, 14, 12, 3 and 16, which was initially ruled a 17-yard touchdown.
After review, officials determined that Alexander Mattison was knocked down just shy of the goal line.
Even when the ensuing first-and-goal from the 1 turned into a first-and-goal at the 6, Minnesota stuck with the run game. Dalvin Cook rushed for 1 and 4 yards, but C.J. Ham was stuffed for a loss of 1 on third down.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer opted to go for it on fourth-and-2 with a gutsy call, and he was rewarded when Cook followed a block by Ham and others to reach the end zone.
"They can't stop you. That's the good part. It just breaks your will. That's the one thing with football – it's a tough sport, and if you allow people to run the ball like that against you, it really deflates you, I think."
— Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer on the effects of a team running like that
"It's just unique. I haven't played in a team in the NFL that does this. I've never been able to run the ball that well, been a part of running the ball that well, so it's new to me. I guess when you get people on their heels, you get them a little bit tired, worn down, you can just keep going and keep plugging. I think it says a little bit about our conditioning, maybe, that our o-line and running backs have enough juice to be able to keep going 10 straight plays, too. But we've been able to do it a few games now, a few drives now, where it's been just a heavy dose of run – which you just don't see much in the NFL anymore. So the fact that we can do that is a really positive thing, and you never know when it's going to hit and when it's not, but we certainly stay committed to the run all day long."
— QB Kirk Cousins
"It feels good. As an offensive lineman, pass blocking is fun, but run blocking means we are getting things done. To be able to run 10 straight times feels good. … When you're grinding and knocking guys down and pushing them, you get tired. We exert energy, but it energizes us to see that happen. It feels good."
— G Dakota Dozier
"Every o-line loves that."
— C Garrett Bradbury on having success even when an opponent thinks that runs are coming
"This team is going to win football games by running the football. That was big, and any time you can get the ball in Dalvin's hands, it just takes a little bit of a crease, and like I say all the time, you don't want your guy to make a tackle. So, you do everything you can to eliminate them."
— TE Kyle Rudolph