MINNEAPOLIS — Cooper Rush subbed for the injured Dak Prescott and passed for 325 yards and two second-half touchdowns, the last a 5-yarder to Amari Cooper with 51 seconds left in the Dallas Cowboys’ 20-16 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night.
Rush, the fifth-year backup handed the offense when Prescott was shelved in a game-time decision due to a strained right calf muscle, directed an eight-play, 75-yard drive he finished with a perfect toss to Cooper on a fade in the corner of the end zone.
Cooper had eight catches for 122 yards, and CeeDee Lamb had six receptions for 112 yards for the Cowboys (6-1), whose only lead came in that final minute.
Rush overcame two turnovers, both delivered by former Dallas safety Xavier Woods, to slice up the Minnesota secondary in his first NFL start. Prescott watched approvingly from the sideline wearing a headset to help the coaches.
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings (3-4) were frequently in disarray on offense, after opening the game with 75-yard march for a touchdown pass to Adam Thielen. Greg Joseph kicked three field goals to keep them in front for most of the night, but the Vikings totaled only 278 yards against a defense that was allowing the second-highest yards-per-play average in the NFL entering the week.
Cousins finished 23 for 35 for 184 yards, too often settling for the short dump-off option rather than pushing the ball up the field to Thielen and fellow star Justin Jefferson. Dalvin Cook had 18 carries for 78 yards, but he never found a rhythm because of all the fits and starts.
The Vikings converted only one of 13 third downs and had eight of 12 possessions last only four plays or fewer. Woods had an interception in the second quarter and forced a fumble with his first career sack in the fourth quarter, but the Vikings didn’t turn those gifts into any points.
Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn had a masterful game plan that was almost undone by a lack of discipline by his group. The defense accounted for nine of the team’s 11 penalties, including three unnecessary roughness calls during the 69-yard drive by the Vikings to take the lead on Joseph’s 24-yard kick. Nearly half of those yards came from penalties.
According to NFL research, Rush became the first player to pass for 300-plus yards and win in his first career start on the road in a night game since Gary Hogeboom did it for Dallas in the 1984 season opener. Both Rush and Hogeboom hail from Central Michigan.
NO PICKS FOR DIGGS
Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs had his season-opening NFL-record-tying interception streak stopped at six straight games, and the younger brother of former Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs had a rough night.
Diggs took two penalties while covering Justin Jefferson, a blatant pass interference for tugging the back of his jersey in the first quarter on a third down throw and an illegal contact in the third quarter. Diggs also lost Thielen on a 32-yard bootleg completion by Cousins on fourth-and-1 in the second quarter that set up the first of two field goals by Greg Joseph.
Cowboys: LT Tyron Smith (ankle), who was listed as questionable to play, aggravated the injury in the second quarter and was ruled out for the rest of the game. Ty Nsekhe took his place. … Backup LB Jabril Cox (knee) left in the third quarter after getting hurt on the punt team.
Vikings: Hunter (shoulder) was hurt in the second quarter and ruled out at halftime for the remainder of the game. … Peterson (hamstring) was injured in the last game prior to the bye and will miss at least two more games. Pierce (elbow) sat out for the
Cowboys: Host Denver (4-4) on Sunday.
Vikings: At Baltimore (5-2) on Sunday.
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