By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Pro Football Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Tony Pollard had two touchdown catches for Dallas with a career-high 189 yards from scrimmage, and the Cowboys sacked Kirk Cousins a career-most seven times in a 40-3 victory over Minnesota on Sunday that slammed the Vikings’ seven-game winning streak to a screeching halt.
Dak Prescott was flawless at quarterback, Ezekiel Elliott rushed for two scores in his return from injury and Brett Maher made four field goals — including a 60-yarder to end the first half. The Cowboys (7-3) didn’t punt until their eighth possession, and the defense was just as good.
Micah Parsons and Dorance Armstrong had two sacks apiece in the fifth-largest loss ever for the Vikings — and the biggest road win in Cowboys history.
The Vikings (8-2) have been the king of the comebacks in an NFL season featuring the smallest average winning margin in 90 years, none more remarkable than last week at Buffalo when they turned a 17-point deficit late in the third quarter into an overtime victory.
Parsons promised Prescott and the offense this week the Cowboys would never again lose a 14-point fourth-quarter lead like they did last week for the first time in franchise history when they fell in overtime at Green Bay.
They carried out a near-perfect game plan with stunning ease against a team that entered the week tied for the best record in the league.
After surrendering 200 rushing yards in consecutive games for the first time since their 1960 inaugural season, the Cowboys flipped the script by gaining 108 yards on the ground in the first half. Seven of their eight third-down conversions came by rushing, and then they turned Pollard loose as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.
The epitome of the blowout came soon after halftime when the Cowboys faced third-and-14. With no hurry to throw — he was not sacked all afternoon — Prescott found Pollard in a one-on-one mismatch with linebacker Jordan Hicks and lofted a pass near the sideline for a 68-yard score that gave Dallas a 30-3 lead. The Vikings were so out of sorts they had six penalties for 54 yards in the third quarter alone.
Cousins went 12 for 23 for 105 yards and a lost fumble that Parsons forced with a blind-side sack the first time the Vikings tried to pass. Justin Jefferson, coming off a career-high 193 receiving yards against the Bills, had 33 yards on three catches.
Pollard, the Cowboys’ most dangerous weapon on offense all year, finished with six catches for 109 yards and 15 rushes for 80 yards.
SO MUCH FOR CLOSE GAMES
The Vikings had their largest margin of defeat since Nov. 14, 2011, when they lost 45-7 at Green Bay. The Cowboys notched their biggest win since beating Buffalo 44-7 on Nov. 13, 2011.
JUST KICKING IT
Maher has four 60-plus-yard field goals in his career, the most in NFL history. Nobody else has more than two. He even made the 60-yarder twice, after a late stoppage for a replay review negated the first try that went off before the Cowboys heard the whistle.
Cowboys: LB Anthony Barr (hamstring) was inactive against his former team. He played eight seasons for the Vikings, who drafted him in the first round in 2014. DT Quinton Bohanna (illness) was also scratched, replaced by Neville Gallimore. … CB Kelvin Joseph (illness) did not play in the second half.
Vikings: LT Christian Darrisaw, who was forced out of the previous game with a concussion, was beaten by Parsons for the strip-sack and by Armstrong later for another sack to prompt a punt in the second quarter. He went back in the concussion protocol after that. … CB Andrew Booth Jr. got his first career start for fellow rookie Akayleb Evans (concussion), who subbed the previous week for Cameron Dantzler (ankle). DT Dalvin Tomlinson (calf) missed his third straight game, and James Lynch took his spot again. … LG Ezra Cleveland left with an injury in the third quarter.
Cowboys: Host the New York Giants on Thursday. The Cowboys beat the Giants 23-16 on Sept. 26. Dallas has lost three straight Thanksgiving Day games.
Vikings: Host the New England Patriots on Thursday night, the first Thanksgiving Day home game in franchise history. They last played on the holiday in 2017, a 30-23 win at Detroit.
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