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Vikings Hit by ‘Halloween Storm 2″

 

Oh, my!

An hour or so prior to kickoff last night came the news Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, a potential NFL MVP candidate, wouldn’t play because of his injured calf. Former Viking Matt Birk told Viking Land via KFXN radio: “Looks like Christmas came on Halloween.”

Not so fast, Birkie.

The Cowboys tried to gift the Vikes a win but at the end of the evening it was Minnesota’s generosity that made the loudest impact. Late in the fourth quarter, with the game tied at 13-13, the Cowboys committed three personal fouls on a Viking drive. Minnesota was first and goal on the Dallas four-yard line. America’s team pushed the Vikings backward and Minnesota had to settle for a 24-yard Greg Joseph field goal and a 16-13 lead with 2:51 to play.

The Cowboys responded with their own drive but it looked like they would have to settle for a game tying field goal attempt when Dallas had a third down and 16 yards to go. Coach Mike Zimmer, though, tried to call consecutive timeouts and that’s not allowed, resulting in a five-yard penalty. On third and 11, substitute QB Cooper Rush passed to Ezekiel Elliott who ran to the Minnesota four-yard line and a first down. On the next play Rush—who before Sunday had completed one pass in three attempts since entering the NFL in 2017—passed for the winning touchdown to Dallas WR Amari Cooper.

The game was almost a must-have for the struggling Vikings who are in a tough stretch in the schedule and own a 3-4 record. The expectation was for Minnesota to win a statement game against a quality 5-1 opponent—coming off a bye week, playing at home before a national TV audience, and not having to face Prescott. Instead, it was a “train wreck” for the Purple on a night marking the 30th anniversary of the lethal Halloween snow storm of 1991 that paralyzed the twin towns.

Last night it was the Vikings’ offense that looked “paralyzed.” After an opening first quarter drive of 75 yards and a touchdown, the Vikings never saw the end zone again. The Vikings couldn’t or wouldn’t attack deep with the pass game, as they had in their opening series. They were awful on third downs, converting once in 13 attempts.

Kirk Cousins

Rush threw for 341 net yards and two scores. Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins had 177 net yards passing and a first quarter TD throw to Adam Thielen. Dallas controlled the Vikings’ running game, too, holding Minnesota to 101 net yards.

Zimmer dialed up plenty of blitzes in the first half to confuse the inexperienced Rush. It worked well enough for Minnesota to hold a 10-3 halftime lead but in the second half Rush led Dallas to 17 points.

On the winning drive Rush got things started with a 33-yard pass to Cooper, who made a SportsCenter worthy catch. He beat Vikings cornerback Bashaud Breeland to make the grab. Cornerbacks Cameron Dantzler and Mackensie Alexander also had difficult moments as the Vikings played without their best man at that position, the injured Patrick Peterson.

The offense stalled last night but the defense can’t brag either. There wasn’t much pressure on Rush in the second half. Then, as has happened earlier in the schedule, the defense couldn’t make the game-deciding plays on the Cowboys’ last possession.

The Halloween embarrassment looks haunting for the Vikings who have lost four games by a total of 15 points. Ahead immediately on the schedule are road games against the 5-2 Ravens and 4-3 Chargers, then a November 21 home date with the 7-1 Packers.

After the game Zimmer was asked on KFXN how his team gets better.  Zimmer said, “Well we gotta start with me and then we’ll try to get better with the players and the techniques and the fundamentals.”

Worth Noting

Retired Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson, who received his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring during halftime of last night’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium, turns 44 years old today. That’s the same age as GOAT quarterback Tom Brady of the 2021 Super Bowl winning Bucs who was a co-captain with Hutchinson at Michigan.

P.J. Fleck said today tailback Bryce Williams suffered a season-ending injury in Saturday’s game, further depleting running back depth. The coaching staff is sorting through the roster, the coach said, for players who have past running back experience to provide depth behind Ky Thomas and Mar’Keise Irving, who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week today after he rushed 19 times for a career-high 110 yards and two touchdowns against Northwestern.

Derik LeCaptain, the Gophers’ redshirt sophomore linebacker pressed into service at running back because of injuries to three other tailbacks, ran for 5,199 yards and 100 touchdowns at Southern Door High School in Wisconsin. He looked impressive making his first college touchdown run last Saturday in Minnesota’s win over Northwestern.

Major League Baseball, with its grueling and long schedule, might be a young man’s game but fact is World Series managers Dusty Baker, 72, and Brian Snitker, 66, guided the Astros and Braves to AL and NL championships. Tony La Russa, 77, came out of retirement to manage the 2021 White Sox to the AL Central title.

The Capital Club hears from Timberwolves coach Chris Finch Wednesday morning at Mendakota Country Club. More information is available from Patrick@aglilemarketingco.com.

Veteran Wolves guard Patrick Beverley is questionable for tonight’s home game against the Magic because of a sore left calf.

A feature story in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated details how Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns dealt with the trauma of losing seven family members to COVID-19 including his mom.

That story is part of the magazine’s basketball preview that predicts the Wolves will finish fourth in the Northwest Division and miss the playoffs. Minnesota natives Chet Holmgren and Paige Bueckers lead talented teams at Gonzaga and Connecticut that are S.I.’s choices for preseason No. 1 in men’s and women’s college basketball.

Big Brother, bigger money: Tyus Jones earns $8,376,286 in salary this season playing with the Grizzlies, while younger bro Tre Jones makes $1,517,981 with the Spurs, per ESPN.com.

Another Apple Valley High alum, Gary Trent Jr., earns $16 million this season, according to ESPN.

Their college mentor, legendary Mike Krzyzweski, is starting his last season as Duke coach, and for the final Blue Devils home game next winter a fan is paying $1 million for four tickets.

Local author Stew Thornley, who has written more than 40 books and is also an official scorer for the Timberwolves and Twins, speaks to the CORES luncheon group November 11 at the Bloomington Event Center. For more information about the luncheon and program, contact Jim Dotseth, dotsethj@comcast.net. Reservations must be made by November 8. CORES is an acronym for coaches, officials, reporters, educators and sports fans.

CORES host Dick Jonckowski emcees the Minnesota State High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame and Awards banquet November 13 at the Omni Hotel in Eagan.

The Wild sees a familiar face Sunday at home against the Islanders with a homecoming for Minneapolis native Zach Parise who is Minnesota’s third all-time leader in goals and scoring.  Parise signed with the Islanders during the summer.

The Twin Cities Dunkers were recently entertained by a panel of Sid Hartman colleagues telling tales about the legendary journalist who passed away a year ago. Patrick Reusse frequented the same Golden Valley grocery store as the usually impatient Sid. One day a store employee informed Reusse she had just waited on his friend. Reusse asked if Sid was nice to her. “No, he told me to hurry up,” she replied.

Circle the date, wrestling fans: Led by Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson, Minnesota is at top ranked Iowa on January 7 in a power matchup televised by BTN.

According to InterMat, the Big Ten has 10 teams ranked in the top 25, starting with defending national champion Iowa. The others: No. 2 Penn State, No. 5 Michigan, No. 9 Ohio State, No. 10 Minnesota, No. 13 Northwestern, No. 14 Rutgers, No. 16 Nebraska, No. 21 Illinois and No. 23 Wisconsin.

Among Minnesota golf clubs still open is the new Beatles-themed Montgomery National Golf Club in Le Sueur County.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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