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After Further Review: Vikings Make Key Stops in 4th Quarter

After Further Review is a deeper look at plays or stats after Vikings games…

The Vikings knew the Cowboys would be tough to defend on third downs before Sunday's game even started.

Sure enough, a Dallas team that entered the contest leading the NFL with a conversion rate of 50 percent was pesky again. Early in the fourth quarter — after a 20-yard completion on third-and-14 — the Cowboys were at a 75-percent clip (9-for-12).

Dallas, however, didn't convert a third down in the game's final 13-plus minutes and went 0-for-2 on fourth-down tries in that span.

A third-and-5 that would have resulted in a sack by Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen was negated by a holding call against Harrison Smith, resulting in no play.

The Cowboys got the ball at the Vikings 30-yard line instead of midfield and advanced to the 5, which is where we'll begin reviewing Sunday's action.

Q4, 10:07 remaining — Third-and-goal at the Minnesota 5

Smith

The Cowboys have 11 personnel (running back Ezekiel Elliott and tight end Jason Witten are joined by receivers Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb and Michael Gallup). Dallas goes with a shotgun formation with Elliott to the left of quarterback Dak Prescott and motions Cooper from right to left, giving the Cowboys Cooper, Witten and Elliott as options on the left.

The Vikings have their nickel defense in the game with Mackensie Alexander across from Cobb in the slot and Mike Hughes across from Gallup, who is outside on the right.

As Cooper motions, linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and safety Harrison Smith all nudge along in the same direction.

The Vikings rush four, leaving seven defenders to cover five skill players, with the combination of Barr, Kendricks Rhodes and Smith in the direction of where Prescott wants to work.

Rhodes has Cooper over the top with help from Kendricks, and Barr has Elliott out of the backfield, leaving Smith with a 1-on-1 against Witten, who has 70 career touchdowns.

Smith cuts off Witten's route, and the tight end and safety collide. Both players and the ball fall to the turf, and Dallas settles for a field goal.

Q4, 1:06 remaining — Third-and-2 at the Minnesota 11

Ifeadi

Dallas is back in the red zone, having started the drive at its own 6.

The Cowboys again line up in the shotgun, with Elliott on Prescott's right.

The Vikings again are in the nickel. Griffen and Hunter are at the defensive end spots with Ifeadi Odenigbo and Stephen Weatherly inside at the defensive tackle spots.

Prescott hands off to Elliott for a run designed to go to the left side of the offense, but Griffen sets the edge while working against left tackle Tyron Smith.

Left guard Connor Williams tries to get to the second level to block Kendricks, but center Travis Frederick is unable to snap the ball and properly engage Odenigbo.

Odenigbo picks up steam before Elliott even gets going. He quickly crosses the line of scrimmage for a 3-yard tackle for loss.

Q4, 0:44 remaining — Fourth-and-5 at the Minnesota 14

Kendricks

Down by four, the Cowboys are forced to go for it. Dallas again goes to the shotgun but motions Elliott out to the left slot.

Kendricks lines up across from him and is 1-on-1 with the running back. Rhodes has a 1-on-1 with Gallup.

Smith and Anthony Harris are back at the 5.

Hughes has a 1-on-1 with Cooper, and Alexander is matched against Cobb.

The Vikings rush four and have a decent push. Barr covers Witten with help from Smith.

Prescott opts for the out route to Elliott against Kendricks, firing from the 22 to the 8, but Kendricks takes a great line underneath the route and is able to reach the football and knock it away.

Q4, 0:07 remaining — Third-and-7 at the Dallas 49

Barr

The Cowboys were able to use their timeouts and force a punt for one last chance.

On this play, Dallas just wants to pick up some yards and do so quickly to give Prescott a chance at a Hail Mary.

The Vikings rush three, and Dallas completes an out route to tight end Blake Jarwin, who creates space from Barr after crossing under a deeper route by Cooper.

The gain of 6 doesn't count as a third-down conversion, but it does accomplish the goal of the play and provides Dallas with a shot at the end zone.

Q4, 0:03 remaining — Fourth-and-1 at the Minnesota 45

Hunter

The Cowboys go with the shotgun formation with Cobb, Jarwin and Cooper on the right side. Dallas leaves Elliott in the backfield to help block, but the Vikings only rush three.

Smith, Harris and Jayron Kearse line up in the end zone before the snap, and Barr and Kendricks are also deep down the field to cover anything underneath.

Hunter gets a good rush against right tackle La'el Collins, a former LSU alum, but his reward is getting a robust shove by right guard Zack Martin that denies the opportunity for a sack.

Prescott fires from his own 47-yard line into an area that is flooded with four Cowboys and eight Vikings.

Kearse is able to capitalize on his 6-foot-4 frame and outjump everyone for his first career interception.

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