Vikings defense adjusting after ‘punch in the face’ from Cowboys

Vikings cornerback Chandon Sullivan said Monday there's value in players holding onto the the 40-3 loss to the Cowboys. Sullivan, the veteran slot corner, doesn't want himself or teammates to make the "same mistakes twice." And there were many of them for the Vikings defense as a seven-game win streak came to a grinding halt.

"The funny thing about the NFL is it's got a weird way of humbling you," Sullivan said. "I'm not going to stay I'm glad we lost, but it was a punch in the face and we accepted the challenge and we're going to move forward. We're going to learn from this."

For the fifth time this season — and second time in a row — the Vikings' 29th-ranked defense surrendered over 400 yards. They're fine with bending if they don't break and take the ball away. But they broke against the Cowboys and had no takeaways for the first time this season.

Rookie cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. was frequently targeted in his first NFL start, including a 14-yard throw to Cowboys receiver Michael Gallup on third down. Running back Tony Pollard then ran for 38 yards on back-to-back carries, setting up a Dallas touchdown.

"He had a big test," Sullivan said of Booth. "I felt like he did what he had to do. We just played bad collectively. You can't pinpoint one person or one play. I have the utmost confidence in Andrew."

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was efficient and patient, Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy said. Prescott completed 22 of 25 throws for 276 yards and two touchdowns.

"This is a better defense, a lot of experience," McCarthy said postgame. "They do an excellent job taking the ball away. ... And I thought Dak was extremely, extremely patient."

McCarthy noted that on the 68-yard touchdown pass to Pollard early in the third quarter, Prescott "goes all the way through his progression, Tony is the last option. And that's the way you've got to play against these guys."

Booth sidelined; Tomlinson limited

The Vikings held a walkthrough on Monday when two players — left tackle Christian Darrisaw (concussion) and Booth (knee) — did not participate. Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson (calf) practiced for the first time since an Oct. 30 injury. He was limited along with edge rusher Za'Darius Smith (knee) and cornerback Akayleb Evans (concussion).

Receiver Adam Thielen said Monday this is the "best I've felt in a while" as the 32-year-old veteran has dealt with knee and ankle issues this season.

"I actually feel really good," Thielen said. "There's nicks and bruises throughout the season that you have to deal with and kind of find a way to be as close to 100 percent as possible by game day, which you never really get there."

You're up, Brandel

Tackle Blake Brandel is headed for his first NFL start against the Patriots, replacing Darrisaw, who has already been ruled out after suffering a second concussion in as many weeks. Brandel, the 2020 sixth-round pick, has come off the bench and played 39 snaps to varied results each of the past two weeks.

Brandel will have an even bigger role for an offensive line trying to rebound Thursday night. Coordinator Wes Phillips will know it's going well if they can call the game plan without adjusting to help him.

"That's ultimately what you're looking for in a guy who is playing swing tackle," Phillips said last week, "and even taking reps at guard, and even when Garrett [Bradbury] was a little banged up, [Brandel] was preparing as potentially a backup center as well. Blake's got a lot of value."

'Find a way to adjust'

Receiver Justin Jefferson said the Vikings offense needs to "find a way to adjust" when a defensive pass rush is undercutting the game plan like it did in Sunday's loss. Jefferson, who finished with three catches for 33 yards, said they needed to get the ball out quicker as quarterback Kirk Cousins was under duress.

"Of course I wish we would've adjusted faster throughout the game," Jefferson said Monday. "Getting the ball out quicker, not letting Micah Parsons and the rest of their D-line a chance to get back there to Kirk. So, it's just things we need to learn from. This is a new team, this is a new coaching staff. We have new players on this team. We're all still learning each other."

Etc.Three Vikings players — safety Camryn Bynum, right tackle Brian O'Neill and right guard Ed Ingram — are the ironmen who have played every snap on offense or defense through 10 games; two fell out of the group against the Cowboys: left guard Ezra Cleveland, who was evaluated for injury, and cornerback Patrick Peterson, who sat at the end. Thielen passed Jake Reed for fourth on the Vikings' all-time receiving list with 6,458 yards, and now trails only Cris Carter (12,383), Randy Moss (9,316) and Anthony Carter (7,636). The Vikings opened as three-point favorites on Thursday night against the Patriots, according to Bovada.