So much for that narrative.

Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings beat the Cowboys — and all six of NBC’s analysts — in prime time Sunday, holding on for a 28-24 win in Dallas.

America, though? America knew.

Cousins, who has fielded questions for years about his performances in prime time, finally beat Dak Prescott after losing four straight to the Cowboys quarterback. Meanwhile, the Vikings finally showed up on the road, beating a winning team away from Minnesota for the first time in two years.

The NFC offensive player of the month for October, Cousins looked more like that player than the one who underwhelmed a week earlier in Kansas City. He threw for 220 passing yards and two touchdowns, going 23-for-32 with a 111.5 passer rating and opening the game with an impressive TD pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph.

Down top receiver Adam Thielen, cornerback Trae Waynes and defensive tackle Linval Joseph, the shorthanded Vikings kept pace with the Packers atop the NFC North.

Issues remain. The secondary struggled throughout, as the Cowboys threw for nearly 400 yards. Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb topped 100 receiving yards each, while a third, Michael Gallup, went over 75. Cornerback Mike Hughes was burned repeatedly by Cooper and co., while the defense managed just one turnover: The game-winning interception on Prescott’s final heave to the end zone.

Still, the Vikings moved to 7-3 with the defining win of their season so far.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

The NFL’s leader in rushing and yards from scrimmage, Cook went off in prime time. He didn’t hit pay dirt until the closing moments of the third quarter, but the third-year running back had a hand in all three Vikings touchdowns. The Vikings’ first-quarter TD drives featured Cook heavily, who set up both scores with gains of 27 and 30 yards on screen passes. Responsible for just over half of the Vikings’ total offensive output, Cook racked up 183 yards from scrimmage — 97 rushing and 86 receiving — averaging 5.54 yards per touch.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT ME

A relative non-factor through the first five weeks of the season, Rudolph was an easy player to overlook with Thielen, Cook and Stefon Diggs powering the passing game and a new tight end — former second-round pick Irv Smith. Jr. — in town. Signed to a four-year extension last spring with trade rumors swirling, the veteran tight end has come up big in recent weeks. He hauled in a pair of touchdowns Sunday night, including a one-handed grab in the back of the end zone to get the Vikings on the board, as well as a two-point conversion in the third quarter. He’s up to four touchdowns in his last four games despite ranking sixth on the Vikings with 184 receiving yards.

THAT MOMENT

There were a few moments that deserve mention here. Stefon Diggs made another incredible catch. Head coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski went for it on fourth down for the go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter, then dialed up a successful two-point conversion. Linebacker Eric Kendricks has them beat, however. Vikings fans have seen this one — or something that looks very much like it — a few times before. Up by four with 44 seconds to play and backed up to their own 14-yard line, the Vikings needed a stop on fourth-and-5. They’d yet to get one, giving up passing plays of 20, 10, 13 and 20 yards on the first five plays of the drive. Again, been there. But after bottling Elliott up twice on second and third down, they finally delivered. Prescott looked to Elliott on the left with Hughes and safety Anthony Harris blanketing Cooper, but Kendricks arrived in the nick of time, batting the ball away to end the threat. There were a few close calls left — a near fumble by Cook on the ensuing Vikings possession and Tavon Austin‘s curious fair catch on an extremely playable 44-yard punt — but Kendricks’ clutch play ultimately stood up as the game winner.

THIS NUMBER

Cook wasn’t the only Viking to outrun Elliott, the NFL’s rushing leader in 2016 and 2018. Rookie Alexander Mattison got in on the act as well, gaining 52 yards on eight carries. Elliott was held to just 47 rushing yards after going over 100 yards in three straight, and was held without a touchdown for the first time since Week 3. The Vikings did it with a shorthanded defensive front, as Joseph, a key run stopper, sat with a knee injury.

THEY SAID IT

“He played outstanding. Had some unbelievable runs, tough, competitive runs. I think Dalvin believes that he’s really good. I believe that too.” — Head coach Mike Zimmer.

“We thought it was going to be a challenge to get some explosive screens and get some explosive runs in this game to have a chance, and I think we checked those two boxes.” — Quarterback Kirk Cousins.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Vikings remain one game behind the 8-2 Packers as Minnesota returns home to face the 3-6 Denver Broncos before their Week 12 bye. A trip to Seattle the following week looms large after Minnesota’s disastrous showing against the Seahawks last year, but they’ve got plenty of runway left to overtake Green Bay. The Packers are off this week, then play four of their final six on the road, including Week 16 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Around Third

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November 11, 2019 at 12:27PM