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Early Look: Vikings Try to Keep Riding High Against Cowboys

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings are riding high with a three-game win streak and now will return home for the first of three straight games at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Minnesota earned a hard-fought 19-13 win in Chicago on Monday Night Football, bringing the Vikings record to 4-5. With the game tied at 13 entering the fourth quarter, the Vikings outlasted the Bears in the final 15 minutes.

"It's three games; we're fighting our way back into this thing hopefully," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said after Monday's win. "Still got a lot of football left to play, and hopefully we can keep going."

Dallas is 2-7 and has lost four straight games. The Cowboys were on a bye in Week 10.

Here's an Early Look at the Vikings Week 11 matchup against the Cowboys, presented by Minnesota Eye Consultants, the Proud Ophthalmology Partner of the Minnesota Vikings.

Passing: Kirk Cousins stepped up in the clutch, as the Vikings quarterback helped carry the load on offense against a stout Bears defense.

He completed 25 of 36 passes for 292 yards with two touchdowns to Adam Thielen. Cousins also had an interception that bounced off Thielen's hands, and the quarterback finished with a strong passer rating of 100.7.

Cousins was especially good on third downs, as he completed 10-of-11 passes 149 yards to four different receivers. Of his 10 third-down completions, Cousins had seven that went for a first down or touchdown.

The performance earned Cousins his first-ever win as a starter on Monday NightFootball in 10 tries.

The quarterback has now completed 162 of 245 passes (66.1 percent) for 2,147 yards with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He has a passer rating of 98.1.

The Cowboys quarterback situation is a little muddled.

Veteran Andy Dalton returned to practice this week, clearing both concussion and COVID-19 protocols. He is 0-2 as a starter in 2020, throwing for 452 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions.

Garrett Gilbert started in a Week 9 loss, while Ben DiNucci started in Week 8. Dallas' original starter, Dak Prescott, suffered a season-ending injury in Week 5.

The Cowboys rank fourth in the NFL with 285.0 passing yards per game among its collection of quarterbacks.

View photos of the Vikings in "Big Head Mode" following the 19-13 victory over the Bears at Soldier Field on Monday Night Football.

Rushing: Cook earned each of his 96 rushing yards against the Bears, as he averaged 3.2 yards per carry on his 30 attempts.

The Vikings running back kept at it, however, as he churned his way to 65 yards on 12 attempts (5.4 ypc) in the fourth quarter.

Cook leads the NFL with 954 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Alexander Mattison has 326 rushing yards. The Vikings now rank fifth in the NFL at 153.6 rushing yards per game.

The Cowboys are 17th with 110.0 rushing yards per game.

Dallas is led by running back Ezekiel Elliott, who has a team-high 572 yards and five scores on 150 attempts. Tony Pollard has added 206 yards and a score for the Cowboys.

Receiving: Thielen hauled in a pair of scores Monday — including one with just one hand — on four catches for 43 yards.

Thielen is now tied for the league lead with nine touchdown catches and has 41 receptions for 523 yards. He's also tied with Ahmad Rashad for sixth in franchise history with 34 touchdown catches.

Vikings rookie Justin Jefferson moved into elite company with eight receptions for 135 yards. He tied Randy Moss' franchise rookie record of four games with 100-plus receiving yards.

Jefferson leads Minnesota in catches (42) and yards (762) and has three scores.

Kyle Rudolph had four catches for 63 yards, and Cook had four catches. Chad Beebe (16 yards) and Tyler Conklin (11 yards) had a pair of catches against Chicago.

Dallas features a bevy of playmakers at wide receiver.

Amari Cooper has a team-high 59 catches for 655 yards, while rookie CeeDee Lamb has 44 receptions for 595 yards and a team-best three scores.

Elliott (36 catches for 238 yards), tight end Dalton Schultz (35 catches for 383 yards) and Michael Gallup (29 catches for 468 yards) are all featured in the Cowboys offense.

Cooper, Schultz and Cedrick Wilson have a pair of touchdown catches, while Elliott and Gallup have one apiece.

Dallas' offense ranks eighth at 395.0 yards per game. Minnesota is ninth at 382.3.

Defense: The Vikings defense allowed 70 yards in the first quarter, then put the clamps down to allow just 79 yards in the final three stanzas.

Minnesota was especially effective on third downs, as Chicago converted just twice on 11 total tries.

Harrison Smith had an interception and was involved in a handful of other key plays. Eric Wilson and D.J. Wonnum each had a sack on Nick Foles.

Wilson leads the Vikings with 3.5 sacks and is tied for the team lead with Smith with three interceptions.

The Vikings allowed just 149 yards to the Bears and now rank 24th in the league with 383.6 yards allowed per game.

Chicago has allowed 381.6 yards per game, which ranks 23rd this season.

Aldon Smith has a team-high 5.0 sacks, and Trevon Diggs has a pair of interceptions. Diggs suffered a broken foot in Week 9 and will miss significant time.

Minnesota has 11 takeaways in 2020. Dallas has seven, which is the second-fewest among all teams.

Special Teams: Minnesota had an up-and-down performance in this phase Monday night.

The Vikings allowed a 104-yard kickoff return for a score, had a bad snap that led to a failed extra point try and had struggles covering punts.

But Minnesota also recovered a muffed punt, which led to a critical third-quarter field goal.

Dan Bailey made his lone extra point try and also hit a pair of field goals. Bailey is now 8-for-10 on field goals and has made 20 of 21 extra points in 2020.

Britton Colquitt averaged 41.6 yards per punt on five kicks, but he had a net average of just 24.8 yards as the Vikings gave up 44 yards on a pair of punt returns by Anthony Miller.

Returner K.J. Osborn didn't record a kickoff return and had no gain on his lone punt return. Minnesota ranks last in the NFL with an average of just 1.7 yards per punt return.

Cowboys kicker Greg Zuelein has made 17 of 20 field goals in 2020, and is 15-for-17 on extra point attempts.

Punter Chris Jones suffered an injury in Week 8 and is on Injured Reserve. Dallas signed James Niswander, who had a pair of punts for 79 yards in Week 9.

Lamb has 14 punt returns for 95 yards (6.8 yards per return), and Pollard has 466 yards on 21 kick returns (22.2 ypr) in 2020.

View images as the Vikings take on the Bears at Soldier Field on Monday Night Football.

Where it all began

Zimmer began his NFL coaching career with the Cowboys back in 1994 as an assistant defensive backs coach.

He was promoted to defensive backs coach in 1995, the year Dallas won Super Bowl XXX against Pittsburgh.

Zimmer took over as the Cowboys defensive coordinator in 2000, and spent the next seven seasons in that role.

He is officially 1-1 in his head-coaching career against the Cowboys. Minnesota lost in 2016 — a game Zimmer missed because of emergency eye surgery. The Vikings won on SundayNight Football in 2019 with a 28-24 win.

Zimmer is 61-43-1 in Minnesota. He is third all-time in Vikings history in wins and win percentage (.586) behind Bud Grant and Denny Green.