Vikings Can Exorcise Cooper Rush Demon Sunday

Vikings Can Exorcise Cooper Rush Demon Sunday
Sep 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell with wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

A season ago, on Halloween night, the Minnesota Vikings were fed a spoonful of crow when they lost at home to the Dallas Cowboys. It’s not as though Minnesota was a juggernaut, but they faced a Dak Prescott-less team and still came up short. They can flip the script and get revenge on Sunday.

Last season there was little reason to believe that Mike Zimmer’s team would fall to 3-4 in Week 8. Coming off a bye, the Vikings were set to face Cowboys backup Cooper Rush. Dak Prescott was out with an injury, and Minnesota had a get-right opportunity staring them in the face. Instead, they flopped in the most disappointing fashion, and the season never recovered.

The Cowboys backup hung 325 yards and a pair of touchdowns on Minnesota. Despite picking Rush off once, the Vikings simply could never solve the infrequent signal caller. While they did keep Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard in check, Amari Cooper blasted the secondary all night long, and his 122 yards receiving were a game-high. They also surrendered 112 yards to CeeDee Lamb, and it was a game where the defense looked beyond porous.

Nov 22, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Fast forward to this season, and Rush will be on the sideline. He was thrust into action again early as Prescott suffered yet another injury, but the starter is back under center. Elliott and Pollard are expected to play, although the latter has seemingly been the better back this year. Cooper is no longer on the team, but Michael Gallup and Dalton Schultz join Lamb as Dak’s top options.

There’s no denying that this version of the Cowboys will put their best foot forward, and Minnesota will have an opportunity to best a better team. Dallas comes in with a 6-3 record, and Mike McCarthy is plenty familiar with Minnesota, given his time coaching the Green Bay Packers. Nationally, Minnesota is still seen as somewhat of a fluke, and online oddsmaker Bovada agrees, as they have the Vikings as 1.5-point underdogs despite being a home game.

More often than not, last season’s preparation and preparedness seemed to elude the Vikings. That falls directly on the shoulders of a coaching staff no longer employed. Kevin O’Connell has taken over and provided a sense of leadership this team so badly needed to be re-invigorated with. As they take the field on Sunday, this team largely reflects the 2021 squad, but with a focus we never saw.

Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

Rather than continuing to talk about how the Vikings fell short against a backup quarterback in primetime a season ago, Kirk Cousins and his teammates can handle business and improve to 9-1 through their first 10 games. This is a contest a good team wins, and if there’s going to continue being doubt about Minnesota being good, taking care of business in these opportunities is a way to answer the call.


Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.