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Game Preview: Cowboys at Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings will host the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium on Thursday Night Football with kickoff scheduled for 7:25 p.m. (CT). The prime-time matchup will mark the 30th game between the franchises. Dallas currently holds the edge at 15-14 all-time in the series. Both clubs are coming off Thanksgiving Day games - Minnesota lost 16-13 at Detroit, and Dallas defeated Washington 31-26 on the holiday. Minnesota is powered by the NFL's second-ranked defense in points allowed, giving up 17.5 points per game, and an offensive unit that has committed a turnover in only four of the 11 games this season, helping the team rank second in the NFL with a plus-12 turnover margin.

The Vikings defense, which ranks third in the NFL, allowing 307.0 yards per game, has 20 takeaways (12 interceptions, eight fumble recoveries), tied for the third most in the NFL. The Vikings defense has held opponents to a 74.3 passer rating, the second-best mark in the league.

QB Sam Bradford, who has started 10 games since being acquired via trade from Philadelphia on Sept. 3, is 10th in the NFL with a 98.3 passer rating. Bradford has thrown 12 touchdowns and three interceptions on 248-of-348 passing (71.3 percent, second in NFL). WR Adam Thielen set a new career high in receptions at Detroit after hauling in eight passes for 53 yards. TE Kyle Rudolph, who tied his career high with nine catches at Detroit, is tied for second among all TEs with five touchdowns.

BROADCAST COVERAGE

NATIONAL TELEVISION: NBC; Play-by-Play: Al Michaels; Analyst: Cris Collinsworth; Sideline: Heather Cox

NATIONAL RADIO: WestwoodOne Sports; Play-by-Play: Ian Eagle; Analyst: Tony Boselli; Pre-Game & Halftime Show: Scott Graham

LOCAL RADIO: KFAN-FM 100.3/KTLK-AM 1130

Play-by-Play: Paul Allen; Analyst: Pete Bercich; Sideline Reporters: Greg Coleman and Ben Leber

Pre-Game Show: Mike Mussman – 5 p.m. CT

KFAN and KTLK serve as the flagship stations for the 72-station, five-state Vikings Radio Network.

NORSEMAN NOTABLES

· Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson tied Percy Harvin for the Vikings all-time kick return TD record after scoring on his 5th career kick return vs. Arizona (11/20). Patterson, who returned the kick 104 yards for a TD, also became the 1st player in the history of the NFL to score 4 TDs of 100+ yards.

· In 10 starts in 2016, QB Sam Bradford has 5 games with a passer rating over 100, setting a new career high. Bradford had 4 such games in 2012 with St. Louis and 2015 with Philadelphia.

· Vikings DEs have combined for 18.5 sacks this season, the 2nd-highest total in the NFL, trailing only Seattle's DEs who have totaled 23.0 sacks in 2016. The Vikings are the only team in the NFL to have 3 DEs with 5.0+ sacks this season - Danielle Hunter (7.5), Everson Griffen (6.0) and Brian Robison (5.0).

· Danielle Hunter, who is the 2nd-youngest player on the Vikings roster behind Laquon Treadwell, is tied for 1st in the NFL in sacks among players under the age of 24 with 7.5 in his 2nd season (Frank Clark, SEA).

· Through just 11 games this season, TE Kyle Rudolph is 5 receptions away from tying his career high in receptions (53, 2012) and 27 is also receiving yards short of tying his career high (495, 2015). Rudolph, who has a team-best 5 receiving TDs, is 4 away from his career best of 9 in 2012 when he was selected to his lone Pro Bowl appearance.

· The Vikings have thrown 3 INTs on 381 passing attempts (0.8%) in 2016, trailing only the Patriots, who have thrown 1 INT on 371 passing attempts (0.3%) and the Cowboys, who have thrown 2 INTs on 342 attempts (0.6%) this season.

· On passing attempts over 20 yards, the Vikings defense has allowed a league-low 27.4 passer rating, holding opponents to 11-of-43 (25.6%) passing for 332 yards, 1 TD and 5 INTs.

VIKINGS-COWBOYS CONNECTIONS

· Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer coached for the Cowboys from 1994-2006, his longest stint with any team. Zimmer served as the team's DBs Coach from 1994-99 and the Defensive Coordinator from 2000-06. Zimmer coached a DB group that included Hall of Famer Deion Sanders when the Cowboys won Super Bowl XXX in 1995.

· Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan made his NFL coaching debut with the Vikings as the Offensive Coordinator from 2002-04.

· Cowboys Senior Offensive Assistant Steve Loney coached the Vikings offensive line from 2002-04 before being elevated to Offensive Coordinator in 2005 after Linehan's departure.

· Cowboys QBs Coach Wade Wilson played for the Minnesota Vikings from 1981-1991. Wilson was an 8th round draft choice (210th overall) by the Vikings appearing in 76 games and throwing for 12,135 yards, 66 TDs and 75 INTs in his career in Minnesota.

· Vikings OL Coach Tony Sparano coached for the Cowboys from 2003-07. Sparano served as the TEs coach from 2003-04, the OL/Running Game Coordinator from 2005-06 and the Assistant Head Coach/OL in 2007.

· Vikings CB Terence Newman spent the 1st 9 seasons of his career with the Cowboys, appearing in 133 games (131 starts) and grabbing 32 INTs while with Dallas, tied for the 8th-best mark in club history. Newman, who was the 5th overall selection in the 2003 draft by the Cowboys, was in the same rookie class as TE Jason Witten and QB Tony Romo.

· Vikings S Andrew Sendejo played for the Cowboys in 2010 and spent the 2011 preseason with Dallas. Sendejo made his NFL debut as a rookie on special teams with the Cowboys.

· Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson played for Cowboys WRs Coach Derek Dooley at Tennessee when Dooley was the Head Coach for the Volunteers during the 2012 season.

· Vikings Radio Network Analyst and former LB and coach Pete Bercich's father, Bob, played for the Cowboys from 1960-61.

LOCAL CONNECTIONS

· The Vikings currently have 4 Texas natives on roster - DE Danielle Hunter (Katy), TE David Morgan (Marble Falls), DE Brian Robison (Splendora) and S Andrew Sendejo (San Antonio) and 4 players who attended college in Texas - FB Zach Line (SMU), Morgan (Texas-San Antonio), Robison (Texas) and Sendejo (Rice).

· Vikings LBs Coach Adam Zimmer attended Colleyville Heritage HS near Dallas while his dad coached for the Cowboys. Adam also attended Trinity University in San Antonio where he played S from 2002-05.

· Vikings DBs Coach Jerry Gray is a native of Lubbock, Texas and attended the University of Texas where he was a 2-time All-American as a S.

· Vikings Assistant DL Coach Robert Rodriguez is native of El Paso, Texas and played LB at UTEP from 2001-04. Rodriguez also coached at UTEP from 2008-14.

COLLEGE CONNECTIONS

· TE Rhett Ellison and DE Everson Griffen were teammates with Cowboys QB Mark Sanchez and T Tyron Smith at USC.

· Cowboys S J.J. Wilcox and Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon were teammates at Georgia Southern from 2010-12.

· Vikings S Harrison Smith and TE Kyle Rudolph and Cowboys G Zack Martin were all at Notre Dame together from 2009-10.

VIKINGS BIG DAYS VS. COWBOYS

  • In his last game against the Cowboys as a member of the Eagles, QB Sam Bradford threw for 295 yards, 1 TD and 0 INTs on 25-of-36 passing (69.4%) at Dallas (11/8/15) giving him a passer rating of 103.4.
  • In his only game against his former team as a member of the Bengals, CB Terence Newman recorded 6 tackles, 1 TFL and 2 passes defensed vs. Dallas (12/9/12).
  • Vikings DT Linval Joseph corralled a career best 2.0 sacks at Dallas (10/28/12) as a member of the New York Giants.
  • Vikings DE Brian Robison totaled 2.0 sacks at Dallas (11/31/13), 1 of 8 times he has recorded at least 2.0 sacks in a game.
  • Vikings DT Tom Johnson has 1.0 sack in both of his 2 career matchups vs. Dallas as a member of the New Orleans Saints.
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