The Dallas Cowboys work on taking the ball away on a daily basis. It’s part of what they call their EDDs (every day drills).
So it’s no surprise that linebacker Kyle Wilber had his eye on punching the ball loose early in the fourth quarter when the Cowboys were forced to punt. And he did just that, stripping the ball from Vikings returner Adam Thielen and recovering it.
Receiver Vince Mayle had Thielen wrapped up, and Wilber got there just before Thielen’s knee hit the ground. Thielen had been initially ruled down, but coach Jason Garrett challenged and the call was overturned.
The Cowboys scored the go-ahead touchdown on the next play and ended up holding on for a 17-15 victory on Thursday night at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“Mayle got there first and tried to get him by the knees, and I just tried to get the ball out,” Wilber said. “That’s what coach emphasizes to us – take away the ball and make a play on special teams that makes a difference. So I’m just trying to do my job.”
Said special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia: “Mayle did a great job of laying out and putting his hands on him, and Kyle finished with a punch with his right hand, just like they do every day in practice.”
The entire special teams did their job for the Cowboys all night.
Outside of Thielen, the Vikings have a dangerous return man in Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson had a touchdown return against them in the 2015 preseason.
On Thursday night, though, Patterson only had three kickoff returns for 80 yards, including a long of 35.
“I told them after the game, every time he touches the ball, I age 5 years on the sideline,” Bisaccia said, smiling. “He hit us for a big one in a preseason game a year ago, so we have a lot of respect for him and the way he plays. … I thought we did a good job.”