MINNEAPOLIS – Dez Bryant sashayed through the Dallas locker room with an unmistakable swagger and had nothing but good things to say about his adversary this time around.
It was a stark change from a week ago, when he sparred with Washington cornerback Josh Norman on Thanksgiving. The trash-talking Dez and the polite Dez share one thing in common: they both win.
Bryant caught four passes for 84 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, helping the Cowboys win their 11th straight game with a 17-15 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night.
In a hard-fought battle with cornerback Xavier Rhodes, Bryant’s 56-yard catch set up Ezekiel Elliott’s 1-yard TD in the first half. Bryant caught an 8-yard scoring pass in the fourth quarter after a fumbled punt by Minnesota’s Adam Thielen.
“I knew coming into this game it was going to be a tough match and I had to be on my ‘A’ game,” Bryant said. “Because if I wasn’t, he can get the best of you. We had a good battle. We shared our thoughts throughout the game. It was good thoughts. It’s nice playing games like that.”
Elliott rushed for 86 yards on 20 carries and Dak Prescott completed 12 of 18 passes for 139 yards and a TD for the Cowboys (11-1). They have the longest single-season winning streak in franchise history.
Sam Bradford threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jerick McKinnon with 25 seconds to play, but the 2-point conversion pass failed. Bradford argued for a penalty after he was hit in the face by a defender, but there was no call for the Vikings (6-6). Minnesota played without coach Mike Zimmer after he had emergency eye surgery Wednesday night.
“I’m sick and tired of the reffing in this league right now,” Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said. “. . . You’ve got holding calls all over the place that people don’t want to call. Bradford gets hit in the face at the end of the game and you don’t call it. I’m not laying this loss on reffing, but at some point it’s got to get better.”
Bradford completed 32 of 45 passes for 247 yards, Danielle Hunter had two sacks and Kai Forbath kicked three field goals for Minnesota, which has lost six of the last seven games after a 5-0 start.
Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer was elevated to head coach for the game and it remains unclear how long Zimmer will be out. Minnesota’s third-ranked defense did their fiery leader proud, holding the explosive Cowboys offense to season lows in points, yards (264) and first downs (13).
“It’s not the best game we played, but we showed up when we needed to and made the plays at the end,” Elliott said.
McKnight gunned down
New Orleans AP
Former NFL player Joe McKnight was shot to death Thursday following an argument at an intersection with another motorist.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said the incident involving McKnight happened about 2:43 p.m. Thursday in Terrytown, a suburb of New Orleans.
The 28-year-old running back was standing outside his car when he was shot by Ronald Gasser, 54, Normand said during a news conference at the scene of the shooting.
“The only thing we know right now, everything else is conjecture, is that Mr. Gasser did in fact shoot Mr. McKnight,” Normand said.
McKnight is the second former NFL player this year to die in the New Orleans area as a result of a possible road-rage incident. Former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith was killed in April in a shooting that was sparked over a traffic altercation.
Norman said investigators have Gasser in custody and he’s being questioned, along with a number of witnesses. Col. John Fortunato, a sheriff’s office spokesman, said they anticipate charging Gasser, but with what has not yet been determined.
McKnight played three seasons for the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs after a collegiate career at USC. He spent this season in the Canadian Football League, playing two games for the Edmonton Eskimos and three for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5