To get things started at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings won the coin toss and chose to defer to the second half, giving the Dallas Cowboys the football first. The kickoff from Kai Forbath was returned out to the 21-yard line by Lucky Whitehead. . .that’s his real name. . .and Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and company took the field on offense. Elliott got things going early with a 12-yard run on the Cowboys’ first play. Tyron Smith was then flagged for a false start, and that was enough to stall the Cowboys’ offense. Dallas called on Chris Jones to punt the football away, and Adam Thielen couldn’t get much on the return as the Vikings started at their own 11-yard line for their first possession.
Matt Asiata got the first touch for the Vikings, picking up five yards on first down. Sam Bradford then found Kyle Rudolph for the Vikings’ initial first down of the evening to the 25-yard line. Then, as they do, the Vikings went backwards after a stuffed run by Asiata and a false start on T.J. Clemmings to set up second and long. On 3rd-and-16, Bradford found Adam Thielen for a big 23-yard gain to the 42-yard line to keep the drive going. Bradford then found Cordarrelle Patterson for another big gain of 31 yards, but he was flagged for offensive pass interference to negate the play. That penalty was too much for the Vikings to overcome, as they got stopped and called on Jeff Locke to punt the ball away. Locke continued his solid season, pinning Whitehead and the Cowboys down at their own 15-yard line after the return.
It appeared that the Vikings had gotten a huge turnover on the next drive, as Anthony Barr forced Elliott to fumble and the original call was that Linval Joseph had recovered the ball at the Dallas 15-yard line. However, the call was reversed after review, and Dallas kept the football. The referees ruled that Elliott recovered the ball first before Joseph took it away from him. That would have been a huge break for the Vikings, but it was still enough to force a three-and-out for the Vikings’ defense. Jones came on to punt it again, and Patterson went back to return it. He didn’t get a chance, however, as Jones’ punt went out of bounds at the Minnesota 37.
Bradford quickly got Minnesota back into Dallas territory, finding Rudolph for 17 yards and a first down to the Cowboys’ 46. He then hit Adam Thielen for 16 more, and the Vikings were down to the Dallas 30. A run by Jerick McKinnon and a catch by Stefon Diggs brought up the dreaded 3rd-and-1, and the Vikings responded with. . .a holding penalty on Alex Boone to push them back ten yards. Bradford’s third down pass fell incomplete, and the Vikings brought on Kai Forbath for a 48-yard field goal attempt. Forbath continued his perfect run as a Viking, as he split the uprights to give the Vikings the early 3-0 lead.
Minnesota’s kick coverage did its job on the ensuing kickoff, as Lance Dunbar was only able to get the ball to the 22-yard line on Kai Forbath’s kick. A pair of runs by Elliott picked up 12 yards and a first down for the visiting team, and Prescott then found Cole Beasley for a 10-yard gain to the Dallas 44. Elliott then broke what looked to be a huge run, but Cowboys’ tackle Doug Free was called for holding to negate what would have been a 43-yard gain deep into Minnesota territory. Alfred Morris then spelled Elliott and carried one for 11 yards to midfield. As we move to the second quarter, Dallas is looking at 2nd-and-4 from the midfield stripe.
We’re fifteen minutes into Thursday Night Football, and the Minnesota Vikings have a 3-0 lead over the Dallas Cowboys. Come and join us for the second quarter of play!