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Every Monday, we'll post several comments and/or questions as part of the vikings.com Monday Morning Mailbag. Although we can't post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.
I think maybe lost in all the Cook/Zeke, Kirk/Dak drama was the performance by Dan Bailey. If he misses a single kick, the Cowboys need less than a TD at the end. How key was the performance by the entire special teams unit? Props!
- Jeff Kilty (Sacramento)
There was definitely a lot of hype surrounding Vikings RB Dalvin Cook and Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, and it's no secret what QBs Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins can do for their respective teams on any given Sunday.
But you're exactly right, Jeff, that the Vikings special teams unit was perhaps a lesser-sung hero in the story of Minnesota's prime-time win.
As you pointed out, Dan Bailey was perfect on field goals from 26 and 27 yards as well as two PATs (the Vikings opted for a 2-point conversion on the third touchdown). Bailey's eight points against his former team improved him to 999 for his career, which is tied with Dan Carpenter (2008-16) for 62nd all-time.
Punter Britton Colquitt also played an important role in complementary football. He averaged and netted 42.5 yards on four punts with a long of 53, and he landed two punts inside the Cowboys 20.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Cousins each emphasized the team effort during their postgame pressers, and that certainly includes special teams.
Great win. What is going on with [the Vikings] secondary?
- Ray Sparks
Hi Ray, thanks for your question and for your compliment on the team's impressive road win on Sunday Night Football.
Zimmer acknowledged that there were plays he would like back as a defense.
Minnesota focused on making Dallas one-dimensional offensively and was incredibly effective in doing so, limiting Elliott to just 47 yards on the ground. In doing so, it's likely the Vikings sacrificed a few of those larger pass plays you're referring to.
The Vikings did allow two 100-yard receivers in Amari Cooper (147) and former NFC North rival Randall Cobb (106), which is something that you can be sure Zimmer will want to improve moving forward.
Minnesota, however, did limit Prescott to 28-of-46 passing and also didn't fall for a trick play that involved a pass attempt by Cobb. The Vikings were credited with eight passes defended by press box statisticians, including two each by Mike Hughes and Mackensie Alexander. Both of those players just missed recording interceptions.
"Defensively, I thought we fought like crazy," Zimmer said after the game. "We came up with some big plays. The disappointing thing for us, we gave up about three or four third-and-12s to let them keep drives going."
Our secondary should never allow two receivers to get the yardage they did...conversely, we need to stretch the field more like the Cowboys were able to do with Cooper and Cobb...don't recall any deep slants or balls thrown more than 15 yds. Our ground game is solid, Cook is a beast, but where were the reverses, receiver sweeps?
- Nicholas Balkou
Hi Nicholas, thanks for watching and for your comment. My answer to the question above will address your first note about the Cowboys receivers.
As for the second part of your question, I would encourage you to remember that every game dictates a different offensive game plan based on the defense.
A game down the road may include more reverses or receiver sweeps than this one did, but the Vikings offense showed up and got the job done in prime time.
While there may not have been as many deep balls in this particular contest, Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski dialed up a number of screen passes that proved effective against an aggressive Dallas pass rush. For instance, Cook picked up chunk plays of 30, 27 and 23 yards, respectively, on screens. An explosive play is an explosive play, no matter how it comes about.