ARLINGTON, Texas – The staff writers of DallasCowboys.com shared their initial feelings of the Cowboys' 27-23 win over the Vikings.
The coaches and the players on this team are never going to minimize their own success – regardless of record, they got a win against an NFL team. I don't have the same obligation, however, so it's fine for me to look into the future and say Dallas absolutely could not have afforded to lose this game. It might have been a season-sinker. With the NFC South leader, two tough NFC North teams and three divisional rivalries still to play, the Cowboys would have been up the creek with no paddle had they lost to this less-than-stellar Vikings team. It wasn't pretty, and it doesn't inspire a ton of confidence, but now the Cowboys are at least guaranteed to be .500 or better when they get to their much-needed bye week.
Not exactly the easy win anyone predicted. As mediocre as this team's been, it was still somewhat stunning to see the Cowboys trailing by three points with a minute left. The entire soap opera had played out, with Dez Bryant drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Adrian Peterson wearing down the defense and Tony Romo throwing a late pick, but Romo silenced many with his game-winning, 90-yard drive. I thought the offense should have opened it up, but I didn't expect them to run just nine times in such a close game. I predicted a big day and a score for Jason Witten, who went for more than 100 yards and a touchdown, but I didn't predict Terrance Williams' streak ending. The Cowboys offense continued its inconsistency before finally showing up late. If they wait that long to get going next week against a Saints team coming off a loss, it'll be too late.
Man, I was doing well with my first two and then tanked. Jason Witten did a have a big game and Terrance Williams didn't score, but yikes, this was far from a blowout win. And out-rushing the Vikings? That was a horrible prediction. I had this feeling the Cowboys would take an early lead and get to run the ball while the Vikings were forced to pass. Nope. And Brandon Carr didn't have a pick, but Orlando Scandrick got a big interception. He certainly played a great game, one of the best I can remember from him. Overall, no one really played great for the Cowboys. They had some guys step up, especially at the end. But this team looked like it was sleepwalking for too long. However, the Cowboys had a beautiful loss to Denver and no one cared. So they'll take whatever this kind of win was against the Vikings.
Jason Garrett likes to talk about players learning from experience. Today was that type of day for Tyron Smith against Jared Allen. I said earlier, that Smith was drafted by the Cowboys to block rushers like Jared Allen. When you face a player like Allen, you have to be ready for all his moves. This guy is not a one trick pony and I felt like that there were times where Allen put him on the edge, but Smith was able to hang in there and make things work. In the 2nd half, I thought Smith was at his best and when the Vikings really needed a pressure, it wasn't coming from Allen. The final numbers will say that Allen had one tackle with no sacks, so that tells you a lot about the day that Tyron Smith had.
Here we're the gut feelings for staff writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman and Rowan Kavner, posted Friday.
A home game against a 1-6 squad with a struggling defense and no clear answer at quarterback. Basically, this is the easiest game remaining on the Cowboys' schedule, in my humble opinion. It's not must-win in an immediate, win-or-go-home sense, but they certainly can't afford to drop a game to a team that will be in contention for the top pick in the draft. And I don't think they will. The Cowboys have been excellent at starting well this season, and I think they'll have 10 or 14 points by the end of the first quarter. An early deficit will make it hard for Minnesota to pound the rock with Adrian Peterson, and it should lead to more pass attempts. Pass attempts mean interceptions. I think the Cowboys get two, with one of them coming from Jeff Heath. It's not going to be a high-flying beatdown, but I think Dallas works its way to an efficient, one-sided, 27-13 win.
The Cowboys should win this one. It's the first and last time I'll say that this year, given the rest of games on their schedule, and I don't call it a "must-win" like some games have been labeled before. They just should win it against a one-win team that doesn't know their starting quarterback on any given week and boasts a struggling defense. The Cowboys' defensive injuries could make this interesting, though. I think after a couple down weeks, Jason Witten finds the end zone, as does Terrance Williams to give the rookie five straight scoring games. DeMarco Murray also adds another, while either B.W. Webb or Micah Pellerin picks off a pass en route to a two-score win.
This is one of the games where we won't really find out if the Cowboys can be contenders. But we'll find out for sure if they aren't. If they lose to the Vikings or even play down to their level, it won't be a good sign, considering they've got some tough games coming up. I see this one playing out like the Rams game a few weeks ago. The Cowboys are that much better and they'll show it. I see a big day from Jason Witten, who hasn't done much in recent weeks. I don't see Terrance Williams extending his streak of touchdown grabs, but he'll play well. I do see the Cowboys out-rushing the Vikings, but in a collective effort. And Brandon Carr bounces back this week with at least one interception, but I'm thinking he might get two. I'm seeing a 17-point win by the Cowboys at least.
When you team is 1 – 6, not much is going right for you but if there is a bright spot on this Vikings defense, it is the play of Jared Allen. No matter what the score or situation, Allen is going to give you everything he has. He is a relentless player in every sense of the word and there is no quit to his game . Tyron Smith was drafted by the Cowboys to play against guys like Allen and keep them from being that disruptive player. Despite what happened with the holding call last week against the Lions, Smith has brought his "A" game each week. He has been consistent with his technique and finish which has allowed him to be rock solid on that left side. My gut tells me that Tyron Smith finds a way to pitch a shutout in his matchup with Jared Allen this Sunday.