Vikings 28, Cowboys 24

Cowboys vs Vikings: Good, bad and ugly

Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Sunday's night's game between Minnesota and Dallas left a lot to be desired for Cowboys fans. Although it was a good game from a football perspective and competitive until the very end, poor play calling in the Red Zone cost them another victory as the Vikings secured a 28-24 win in Arlington.

The Good

Dak Prescott had a strong game with 397 passing yards and only one interception on a Hail Mary to end the game. Prescott seemed to be playing with an abundance of confidence as compared to previous games in which the Cowboys lost. The Vikings' defense was able to stop the Cowboys' run game early and often which forced Prescott to try and beat the Vikings through the air. He performed admirably and almost led the Cowboys to a comeback victory.

Both teams had great offensive performances with tons of crazy circus-like catches. Amari Cooper had two of those crazy catches. One gem was a toe-tapping reception that set up a 23-yead Michael Gallup touchdown two plays later. His other catch was a 12-yard touchdown to put the Cowboys up 21-20. Cooper led the game in catches with 11 receptions on 14 targets for 147 yards. Prescott and Cooper have looked in sync since his return from his injury that forced him to miss the Eagles game.

Randell Cobb recaptured some of his old Packers' magic and had his best game as a Cowboy. He had six receptions for 106 yards and one touchdown. Both Prescott and Cobb were on the same page for multiple plays, and it is a good indication that he will be utilized more going forward.

The Bad

The Cowboys could not get the run game going against Minnesota's stellar defensive line. After three straight 100-yard games, Ezekiel Elliot only rushed for a total of 47 yards on 20 carries. This forced the Cowboys to adjust their game plan and made Prescott prime to beat the Vikings defense. Everything worked in the Vikings favor early on when they scored two quick touchdowns.

Normally it is the Cowboys' offense that gets off to slow starts, but this time it was the defense that couldn't step up in the first quarter. Kirk Cousins was able to torch the Cowboys' secondary for 220 yards and two passing touchdowns to Kyle Rudolph. Even without their Pro Bowl Receiver Adam Thielen, the Vikings receivers feasted on the Cowboys' secondary. The Kubiak offense was on full display as his famous bootleg screens and run blocking schemes left the Cowboys dazed and confused as to how to stop the Vikings.

Dalvin Cook had a field day with the Cowboys' defense, rushing for 97 yards and had seven receptions for 86 yards. Compared to last week, guys like Sean Lee and Demarcus Lawrence had subpar games. Leighton Vander Esh returned from his one game absence, but was practically a no show when it came to stopping the Vikings run game.

The Ugly

Jason Garret and Kellen Moore could be credited for some gutsy play calls on offense Sunday night. The Cowboys even lined up in the Wild Cat formation at one point. The change in offensive strategy worked in the first half, but the play calling regressed when they were insistent on running the ball. This was most apparent in the 4th quarter when the boys were down by four in the red zone. The Cowboys had a first down at the Minnesota 19 but insisted on continuing to force the ball to Elliott when the Vikings had made it clear they could shut him down. After three dismal running plays, Prescott then tried to force a pass to Elliot which was deflected by Vikings Linebacker Eric Kendricks. This pitiful selection of plays ultimately cost the Cowboys the game and put Jason Garret back on the hot seat.

For the Vikings, Kyle Rudolf had a great game. It seemed as though anyone who the Cowboys sent to cover him would be in trouble. He had a total of three red zone scores, two touchdowns and one 2-point conversion. His first touchdown was a great one-handed catch that Sean Lee couldn't do anything about. On his other two scores both Lee and Chidoble Awuzie couldn't cover him. He scored 14 of the Vikings 28 points and was their biggest weapon in the red-zone.

For the third straight game, Jeff Heath left with an injury. I give kudos to his toughness and willingness to come back to the field as soon as possible, but if he is hurt he should not be on the field. When healthy, Heath is a pro bowl safety and could have been an answer for Rudolf. Heath suffered a shoulder injury which caused him to leave the game in the first half. If he is still hurt, the Cowboys should consider resting him a week or two.

The next team the Cowboys will see is the injury-riddled Lions. Although this game may look easy on paper, the Cowboys should never underestimate their opponent again after what happened during the Jets game. The Cowboys are currently tied with the Eagles atop the NFC East. Both team schedules get tough after next week, so expect a grueling race to take place in the NFC East going forward.




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Houston is back in the win column

McCullers Jr. spins a gem as Astros get a much-needed win over Giants

Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

After getting swept by the A's in Oakland to end a road trip with a five-game losing streak, the Astros returned to Houston to try and get back on track. To do so, they'd need a win against the Giants on Monday night. Here is a quick recap of the series opener:

Final Score: Astros 6, Giants 4.

Record: 7-9, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 6.10 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Logan Webb (1-1, 2.81 ERA).

Houston builds up an early lead

The early goings of Monday's game went very similar to the last time Lance McCullers Jr. took the mound. He would have a terrific first three innings while his offense gave him an early lead. The first run came in the bottom of the second, with Yuli Gurriel reaching base on a one-out double, moving to third on a wild pitch, then scoring on an RBI-single by Carlos Correa.

Correa would take part in a four-run inning in the third, as Houston would score two on a two-RBI ground-rule double by Michael Brantley, another on an error, then Correa's second RBI of the night, a groundout to bring in a run and make it 5-0. Unlike the last start in Arizona, where the roof opened and McCullers Jr. fell apart in the fourth, he was able to make quick work of his opponent for a 1-2-3 frame. As he kept recording scoreless innings, Martin Maldonado added another run to the lead with a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, making it 6-0.

McCullers Jr. takes a no-hitter into the seventh

While the Astros were building their lead, McCullers Jr. was spinning a gem on the mound. He allowed just one baserunner through the first six innings, which came on a hit-by-pitch. He entered the seventh with a no-hitter in progress, but the Giants would get their first hit of the night to end the no-hit bid.

Regardless, the start was precisely what McCullers Jr. needed to restore his confidence after the disastrous inning he had in his last appearance. He would go on to complete the seventh inning before Houston would go to the bullpen with the large lead in the eighth. His final line: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K 0 HR, 1 HPB.

Houston gets back in the win column despite more struggles by Josh James

Josh James entered out of the bullpen for the top of the eighth but allowed the first run of the night for San Francisco via a solo home run with one out to make it 6-1. He would complete the inning and then return for the top of the ninth. He would have another rocky inning, issuing a leadoff walk before a single and double would make it a four-run game at 6-2, still with no outs in the inning and runners on second and third, prompting another call to the bullpen.

Dusty Baker would bring in his current closer, Ryan Pressly, to try and finish the game, now in a save situation. Pressly would retire the first two batters he faced before allowing a two-RBI single to make it 6-4, but would eventually get the final out to get Houston the much-needed win. With the victory, the Astros moved back into second place in the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Tuesday at 8:10 PM Central. The Giants, working with a fluid rotation, have not yet fully decided on their starter, while the Astros will get another start from Brandon Bielak (2-0, 0.87 ERA) who will look to repeat the success of his five-inning, no-run start in Arizona last week.

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