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Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings: Third Quarter Open Thread

We’re at halftime at U.S. Bank Stadium, and the Vikings trail the Dallas Cowboys by a score of 7-3.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

After the first quarter of play, the Minnesota Vikings held a 3-0 lead over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Night Football. On the second play of the quarter, the Cowboys gave the ball to Lucky Whitehead, and thanks to a fantastic play by Everson Griffen, Whitehead fumbled it away and Eric Kendricks jumped on it for a Minnesota turnover. The Vikings took over at their own 34-yard line.

Jerick McKinnon picked up five yards on first down, but Zac Kerin negated that with a false start on a play where he reported as eligible. The Vikings converted thanks to a pair of completions, one from Sam Bradford to Charles Johnson and one from Bradford to Stefon Diggs, to move the chains and keep the drive going. Jerick McKinnon then threw a pass out of the Wildcat intended for Kyle Rudolph and nearly got it intercepted. . .guess that’s why he doesn’t throw it. The play likely would have gone for a score with a well-thrown pass but, well, it wasn’t even close. That pretty much killed the drive for the Vikings, as a short run and another incompletion brought Jeff Locke in for his second punt of the evening. Locke did his job again, as his punt was fair caught by the Cowboys at their own 16-yard line.

The Vikings nearly forced what would have been a huge three-and-out, but Prescott found enough daylight to run for 14 yards on 3rd-and-13 to keep the drive alive for the visiting team. Prescott then found Cole Beasley for 13 more yards to the Minnesota 42. The Vikings then blew a coverage in a big way, and Prescott found Dez Bryant for a huge 56-yard gain all the way down to the Minnesota 1-yard line. It looked like Harrison Smith bit on a fake in a big way and Bryant took advantage. It was academic from there, as Ezekiel Elliott took the ball into the end zone to give Dallas their first lead of the night. Dan Bailey connected on the extra point, and with five minutes left in the half, the Cowboys were suddenly leading 7-3.

Cordarrelle Patterson got an opportunity to return Bailey’s kickoff, and did a decent job as he got the ball out to the 30-yard line for the Vikings’ next possession. Jerick McKinnon picked up six yards on first down, and then Bradford threw what looked to be an awful interception to Dallas linebacker Anthony Hitchens that was negated by a penalty on safety Orlando Scandrick, instead giving the Vikings a first down. Two consecutive penalties on the Cowboys gave the Vikings another first down, this time into Dallas territory at the 49. Unfortunately, the Vikings’ drive stalled out, and they were well outside of field goal range for Forbath, so Jeff Locke came on to punt again. Locke picked a bad time for what might have been his worst punt of the year, as he uncorked an ugly 16-yard effort that only pushed Dallas back to the 32-yard line with just over three minutes left in the half.

Minnesota’s defense covered for the bad punt, though, as they forced a three-and-out on Dallas’ next possession. Chris Jones came in to punt the ball away, and Cordarrelle Patterson called for a fair catch at the Minnesota 13-yard line with 1:52 left on the clock.

Minnesota picked up a first down, but then following an incomplete pass, Bradford took a huge hit where he got sandwiched between Demarcus Lawrence and Malik Collins and stayed down on the field. He left the game for the Vikings’ two last offensive plays of the half in favor of Shaun Hill. Hill completed one pass and took a sack, leaving the Vikings to punt the ball back to the Cowboys again. Danielle Hunter took down Prescott for a sack on the final play of the half, and the teams went into the locker room with the visitors holding a 7-3 lead.

Bradford played a decent first half of football, all things considered. . .like considering that T.J. Clemmings can’t hold a block to save his life. He has completed 13-of-18 passes for 102 yards. Hill completed his only pass attempt for a six-yard gain. Jerick McKinnon has 21 carries on five yards to lead the rushing attack, while Adam Thielen has 45 yards on three catches to lead the Minnesota receivers.

The Vikings played a decent first half on defense, but the big play from Prescott to Bryant. . .one of only two real mistakes the Vikings made in the first half defensively. . .cost them, as it gave the Cowboys their only points. Prescott has completed 7-of-10 passes for 89 yards in the half. The Vikings have done a very good job on Ezekiel Elliott, holding the NFL’s leading rusher to just 39 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Dez Bryant has been the recipient of nearly all of Prescott’s passing yards, picking up 63 yards on two receptions.

At halftime at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings trail the Dallas Cowboys by a score of 7-3, and they get the ball first coming out of the locker room at halftime. Can the Vikings string together some offense and turn things around?