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Lunchbreak: Pundits Analyze Vikings Disappointing Loss to Cowboys

The Vikings woke up Monday morning to the reality that their nightmare performance Sunday night was more than a dream.

Minnesota's offense couldn't get going and its defense couldn't hold another late lead, with the final result being a 20-16 home loss against Dallas.

The Vikings, who are now 3-4, fell from a playoff spot they occupied going into the game.

A handful of football pundits, including John Breech of CBS Sports, analyzed Minnesota's disappointing performance.

Breech noted that losing at home to a backup quarterback meant Minnesota received the lowest possible grade from him.

He wrote:

If you lose a home game to the opposing team's backup quarterback, you get an "F." Especially if you do it the way the Vikings did, playing conservatively and basically allowing the Cowboys to walk into their stadium and steal a win with Cooper Rush under center. Horrendous loss.

Rush, who made his starting debut, had thrown three total NFL passes before Sunday night. He threw for 325 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Courtney Cronin, who covers the Vikings for ESPN, also gave the Vikings a poor review for their Week 8 performance.

And she wondered how Minnesota would fare against the likes of quarterbacks Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert and Aaron Rodgers in its next three games after it just lost to Rush.

She wrote:

Rush can now be added to the list of backup quarterbacks, which includes Matt Moore and Chase Daniel, who have found a way to dismantle the Vikings. Minnesota got outcoached by Dallas on a day it was without [Dak] Prescott and let the Cowboys' No. 2 quarterback throw for 325 yards and two touchdowns. Rush took chances not synonymous with backup-level QBs, and the Vikings allowed it to happen.

Cronin also updated her weekly confidence rating for the Vikings, dropping it down to 4.0 from 4.5. She opined the Vikings made things harder on themselves as they will now have to play catchup in the month of November.

The Vikings now begin a tough two-game road stretch against the Ravens and Chargers. The problems that showed up against Dallas don't appear to be going away, making a Vikings rebound even more challenging during the hardest part of their schedule.

Minnesota is on the road in Week 9 against Baltimore. The Ravens are 5-2 and had a bye in Week 8.

View game action photos of the Vikings battling the Cowboys during the Week 8 Sunday Night Football matchup at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Graff analyzes Vikings alarming offensive performance

There was chatter last week that Sunday night's game would see plenty of offensive fireworks from both sides.

Dallas put up 419 yards, even with Rush at quarterback, marking the sixth time this season the Cowboys have hit the 400-yard mark.

But the Vikings had a woeful offensive performance, even with all of their star players in the starting lineup and ready to go. (Justin Jefferson missed some time in the second half after getting nicked up).

Minnesota tallied just 278 yards of offense on 61 plays, good for only 4.6 yards per try. And the Vikings third-down offense went ice cold as the unit converted just once on 13 tries.

Chad Graff of The Athletic analyzed Minnesota's alarming offensive performance in his game recap, noting Minnesota's seemingly inability to push the ball down the field.

He wrote:

They're a group that disappears for long stretches, like their three straight three-and-outs in the second half. It's an offense that has turned Cousins into a checkdown machine, one who completed more passes to fullback C.J. Ham on Sunday than star receiver Justin Jefferson.

Cousins' passes traveled an average of 4.5 yards past the line of scrimmage Sunday. Cooper Rush's passes averaged more than double that.

"I think it was a combination of coverage and pressure," Cousins said explaining the stat.

What does that mean? Who knows? It doesn't matter.

The Vikings, it seems, are out of answers for how a once-fearsome offense has turned into one that trips over its own feet while constantly aiming shy of a first down. The only predictable part of this unit is the ways in which it'll fail. When it's third-and-10, look for a 6-yard checkdown to the tight end. Need 4 yards? How about a 2-yard pass to the fullback? That's how you finish 1-for-13 on third downs with the only conversion coming on the opening drive. After that first possession, Cousins had eight third-down throws. He didn't pass beyond the sticks a single time.

Graff noted that the Vikings are built to have success on paper, with the likes of Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook and others.

But the unit seems stuck in the mud right now, something that will need to change with the Ravens, Chargers and Packers coming up on the schedule.

Graff's full breakdown of Minnesota's offense can be found here.

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