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NFL Game Recaps: Week 13, 2016






Cowboys 17, Vikings 15

  • It's pretty telling that the Cowboys can play a bad game of football and still prevail. That occurred earlier in the year when Dallas was sloppy in an overtime victory against the Eagles, and the same thing occurred in this contest.

    The Cowboys made a number of mistakes throughout the evening. Ezekiel Elliott lost a fumble in the first quarter in his own territory, as Anthony Barr stripped it away. The play was overturned by replay review, but it was still an indicator that Dallas wouldn't be at its best at Minnesota. Elliott had a long run negated by a hold at the end of the first quarter. Lucky Whitehead then lost a fumble. An illegal-hands-to-the-face penalty nullified a Sam Bradford interception by Anthony Hitchens. And all of this was just in the opening half!

    The mistakes continued for Dallas following intermission. Dak Prescott lost a fumble on a Brian Robison strip-sack, setting up a Minnesota field goal. Prescott then fumbled again while trying to run out the clock, but Elliott was able to recover the ball. With all of these mistakes, the Vikings hung around and even led 9-7. They forced a punt and would retain possession with a two-point advantage early in the fourth quarter. However, the tide turned when Adam Thielen muffed a punt. The Cowboys recovered, and one play later, Prescott found Dez Bryant for what would turn out to be the game-winning touchdown. Minnesota would reach the end zone to cover the spread with 25 seconds remaining, but missed on the two-point conversion because right tackle Jeremiah Sirles was guilty of a false start. On the actual play, the officials missed an obvious blow to the head on Bradford.

  • It's a shame for the Vikings that they lost because they had a great defensive game plan against the Cowboys. Elliott was limited to 90 rushing yards for the first time since Week 2. Elliott gained 86 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, but 30 of his yards came on one attempt. He otherwise was limited to 56 yards on 19 tries. He also had a fumble overturned by replay, as mentioned. Granted, Elliott had a long burst negated by penalty, but Minnesota did a great job tackling him for minimal gains.

  • The Vikings also restricted Prescott to a season-low passing yardage total. Prescott went just 12-of-18 for 139 yards and a touchdown to go along with 37 rushing yards on six scrambles. He was guilty of two fumbles, one of which was lost. He still made some great plays - a 14-yard run of his on a third-and-13 set up the first touchdown - but he definitely didn't look like himself because of Minnesota's terrific defense.

  • Elliott's sole score went to Bryant, who caught four passes for 84 yards and the decisive touchdown. Bryant was just one of four Dallas players to catch passes. The others were Cole Beasley (2-23), Elliott (4-19) and Terrance Williams (2-13). Jason Witten didn't log a reception for the first time in 130 games, though he did recover Minnesota's last-gasp onside kick attempt at the end of the game.

  • Moving on to the Vikings, the defensive players have to feel extremely frustrated that their offense let them down once again. The special teams did as well, and I'll get to them later, but Bradford was underwhelming. He made some nice plays, including a third-and-16 conversion to Thielen in the early going. However, he was once again Captain Checkdown, going 32-of-45 for only 247 yards and a touchdown. That's a YPA of 5.49, which is trending into Brodie Croyle territory. He was also picked off on one occasion, but that was negated by a penalty. Bradford had some ugly checkdowns, where he tossed a 1-yard pass on third-and-6 and then hurled a 6-yard throw on third-and-18 with seven minutes remaining. Bradford had Stefon Diggs back, so there was no excuse like there happened to be on Thanksgiving. His offensive line sucked again, but there were plenty of occasions in which he had plenty of time in the pocket and didn't look downfield. He did take a couple of shots, but they weren't very successful.

  • Speaking of Diggs, he snatched all eight of his targets for 59 yards, but didn't find the end zone. Neither did Thielen (7-86) nor Kyle Rudolph (6-45). Jerick McKinnon (5-14) had Bradford's sole touchdown.

  • Speaking of McKinnon, he led the Vikings with 41 yards on nine carries. Matt Asiata (6-30) wasn't far behind. The Vikings desperately need Adrian Peterson back, but by the time he's ready to return, it could already be too late. Minnesota probably needs to win out, given that it has to finish the year with one more victory than Detroit as a result of the season sweep.

  • As for the Vikings' special teams, the unit effectively lost this game. The Thielen muff was absolutely crushing, while Jeff Locke's horrible punting didn't help. Locke averaged just 32 yards per punt in this contest, compared to Dallas' average of 46.2. On one occasion, he booted a net punt of only 16 yards.





    Broncos XX, Jaguars XX




  • Falcons XX, Chiefs XX







  • Saints XX, Lions XX




  • Packers XX, Texans XX




  • Patriots XX, Rams XX






  • Ravens XX, Dolphins XX




  • Bears XX, 49ers XX




  • Bears XX, Eagles XX




  • Raiders XX, Bills XX




  • Chargers XX, Buccaneers XX




  • Steelers XX, Giants XX




  • Cardinals XX, Redskins XX




  • Seahawks XX, Panthers XX




  • Jets XX, Colts XX




  • For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.



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    2016: Live 2016 NFL Draft Blog - April 30
    2016 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 12
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    2016 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 21
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    2016 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 5


    2015: Live 2015 NFL Draft Blog - April 30
    2015 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 12
    2015 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 17
    2015 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 24
    2015 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 1
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    2015 NFL Week 17 Recap - Jan. 4
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    2014: Live 2014 NFL Draft Blog - May 8
    2014 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 5
    2014 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 12
    2014 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 19
    2014 NFL Week 4 Recap - Sept. 26
    2014 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 3
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    Super Bowl XLIX Live Blog - Feb. 1
    Super Bowl XLIX Recap - Feb. 2


    2013: Live 2013 NFL Draft Blog - April 26
    2013 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 10
    2013 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 17
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    2013 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 20
    Super Bowl XLVIII Recap - Feb. 3
    Super Bowl XLVIII Live Blog - Feb. 2


    2012: Live 2012 NFL Draft Blog - April 26
    2012 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 10
    2012 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 17
    2012 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 24
    2012 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 1
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    2012 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 7
    2012 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 14
    2012 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 21
    Super Bowl XLVII Recap - Feb. 4
    Super Bowl XLVII Live Blog - Feb. 4


    2011: Live 2011 NFL Draft Blog - April 28
    2011 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 12
    2011 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 19
    2011 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 26
    2011 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 3
    2011 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 10
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    2011 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 19
    2011 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 26
    2011 NFL Week 17 Recap - Jan. 2
    2011 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 9
    2011 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 16
    2011 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 23
    Super Bowl XLVI Live Blog - Feb. 6


    2010: Live 2010 NFL Draft Blog - April 22
    2010 Hall of Fame Game Live Blog - Aug. 8
    2010 NFL Kickoff Live Blog - Sept. 9
    2010 NFL Week 1 Review - Sept. 13
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    2010 NFL Week 3 Review - Sept. 27
    2010 NFL Week 4 Review - Oct. 4
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    2010 NFL Week 8 Review - Nov. 1
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    2010 NFL Week 10 Review - Nov. 15
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    2010 NFL Week 13 Review - Dec. 6
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    2010 NFL Week 16 Review - Dec. 27
    2010 NFL Week 17 Review - Jan. 3
    2010 NFL Week 18 Review - Jan. 10
    2010 NFL Week 19 Review - Jan. 17
    2010 NFL Week 19 Review - Jan. 24
    Super Bowl XLV Live Blog - Feb. 6


    2009: Live 2009 NFL Draft Blog - April 25
    2009 Hall of Fame Game Live Blog - Aug. 10
    2009 NFL Kickoff Live Blog - Sept. 10
    2009 NFL Week 1 Review - Sept. 14
    2009 NFL Week 2 Review - Sept. 21
    2009 NFL Week 3 Review - Sept. 28
    2009 NFL Week 4 Review - Oct. 5
    2009 NFL Week 5 Review - Oct. 12
    2009 NFL Week 6 Review - Oct. 19
    2009 NFL Week 7 Review - Oct. 26
    2009 NFL Week 8 Review - Nov. 2
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    2009 NFL Week 11 Review - Nov. 23
    2009 NFL Week 12 Review - Nov. 30
    2009 NFL Week 13 Review - Dec. 6
    2009 NFL Week 14 Review - Dec. 13
    2009 NFL Week 15 Review - Dec. 20
    2009 NFL Week 16 Review - Dec. 27
    2009 NFL Week 17 Review - Jan. 4
    2009 NFL Week 18 Review - Jan. 11
    2009 NFL Week 19 Review - Jan. 18
    2009 NFL Week 20 Review - Jan. 25
    Super Bowl XLIV Live Blog - Feb. 7


    2008: Live 2008 NFL Draft Blog - April 26
    2008 NFL Kickoff Blog - Sept. 4
    NFL Week 1 Review - Sept. 8
    NFL Week 2 Review - Sept. 15
    NFL Week 3 Review - Sept. 22
    NFL Week 4 Review - Sept. 29
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    NFL Week 6 Review - Oct. 13
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    NFL Week 8 Review - Oct. 27
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    NFL Week 13 Review - Dec. 1
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    NFL Week 17 Review - Dec. 29
    NFL Wild Card Playoffs Review - Jan. 4
    NFL Divisional Playoffs Review - Jan. 11
    NFL Championship Sunday Review - Jan. 19
    Super Bowl XLIII Live Blog


    2007: NFL Draft: Day 1 Review Blog - April 28
    Quarterback Rankings - June 25
    NFL Kickoff Blog - Sept. 6
    Chief Carl Has Lost a Step - Sept. 9
    The NFL Cheated the Patriots - Sept. 16
    NFL Week 3 Wrap-Up - Sept. 23
    NFL Week 4 Wrap-Up - Sept. 30
    NFL Week 5 Wrap-Up - Oct. 7
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    NFL Week 8 Wrap-Up - Oct. 28
    NFL Week 9 Wrap-Up - Nov. 4
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    NFL Week 13 Wrap-Up - Dec. 2
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    NFL Week 16 Wrap-Up - Dec. 23
    NFL Week 17 Wrap-Up - Dec. 30
    NFL Week 18 Wrap-Up - Jan. 6
    NFL Week 19 Wrap-Up - Jan. 13
    2008 Championship Sunday Diary - Jan. 20
    Super Bowl XLII Live Blog - Feb. 3

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