MINNEAPOLIS – Don't be poking a North Texas Cowboy in the back.
Don't hack off this 2022 edition of the Cowboys defense so many ganged up upon this past week.
Don't let DQ say something "stinks."
Don't cause Micah to become "disgusted."
And thanks to Jim Croce, let's just put it this way about the Cowboys defensive performance here Sunday afternoon, a complete about face from its failing in the 31-28 overtime loss to Green Bay last Sunday. It's goes something like this:
You don't tug on Superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
And you don't mess around with Jim.
Otherwise . . . .
How else to explain this Cowboys defensive resurgence just seven days later, stuffing all the "SKOL" stuff right down these Vikings throats on the way to the first cakewalk of the season, pounding the Vikings 40-3 harder than whoever pounds that Vikings drum before kickoff.
Why last time the majority of the 65,304 purple-clad folks clapped their hands this Sunday afternoon came in the leadup to the opening kickoff, them doing this traditional, "SKOL" clap, "SKOL" clap, SKOL" clap chant. Because in the end, it was the Cowboys and their many fans doing all the clapping.
"That felt good, real good," Cowboys corner Anthony Brown said, the Cowboys moving to 7-3 and into a second place tie with the 7-3 Giants, holding a game in hand and having to play them in four days.
"Crazy, off the charts tonight."
Can say that again. Think about this. The Cowboys held this high-scoring Vikings offense (25 points a game) to a mere field goal. Three dang points. Just three. The Cowboys held the Vikings to but 183 total yards. Total. Held running back Dalvin Cook to 72 yards, and the Vikings to but 73, that after giving up 240 rushing to the Bears and 207 to the Packers in the previous two games.
And poor Kurt Cousins, 12 of 23 passing, 105 yards, a 64.6 QB rating, and get this, even sacks. Seven. Think about that.
Oh, and all this talk about how the Cowboys could ever possibly handle the impossible Justin Jefferson, his 1,060 receiving yards second in the NFL going into the game, and so many anticipating how he would take this defense out to lunch.
Well, between Trevon Diggs, the Cowboys pass rush and the offense scoring on the first seven possessions, Jefferson was no factor in the game, finishing with a very quiet three catches for 33 yards, just a tad better than his two catches for 21 yards in last year's 20-16 Cowboys victory over the Vikings.
Just shutting down the Vikings faster than a bar at closing time.
"Exactly what I expected," Jayron Kearse said, knowing the Cowboys also registered 13 QB hits and eight tackles for losses. "We knew we were going to come in and knock them off their horse."
Here was the key to unraveling this Minnesota offense, and even on the Vikings home territory. First, the Cowboys offense was hot, ending up with 458 yards, forcing the Vikings to play from behind. Next, the Cowboys held the Vikings to a reasonable amount of rushing yards early. That meant Cousins had to throw the ball. But rarely did he have anywhere to go with the ball, the Cowboys secondary, and especially Diggs, Brown and DaRon Bland, playing stick 'em coverage.
And that led to what no team wants to find itself against the Cowboys: Having to protect their quarterback in definite passing situations. That right there, a deficit, not running the ball, both unleashing that lethal pass rush, now with an NFL-high 42 sacks in 10 games.
"Our defensive line did a really good job of putting pressure on him," Diggs said. "Credit to the defensive line and us covering our asses off on the back end."
A sure recipe for these guys to earn a reprieve, sending everyone scrambling for that elusive nickname previously being sought prior to that Green Bay game.