Cow­boys hold on, win 11th straight

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS WEEKEND -

Dez Bryant caught four passes for 84 yards and the go-ahead touch­down in the fourth quar­ter, help­ing the vis­it­ing Cow­boys win their 11th straight game with a 17-15 vic­tory over the Vik­ings on Thurs­day night.

Bryant’s 56-yard catch in the first half set up Ezekiel El­liott’s 1-yard plunge. The re­ceiver caught an 8-yard scor­ing pass in the fourth quar­ter af­ter a fum­bled punt by Min­nesota’s Adam Thie­len.

El­liott rushed for 86 yards on 20 car­ries 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 failed for the Vik­ings (6-6), who found out ear­lier Thurs­day that coach Mike Zim­mer would not be able to at­tend the game af­ter hav­ing emer­gency eye surgery Wed­nes­day night.

Vik­ings spe­cial teams co­or­di­na­tor Mike Priefer, a Navy alum­nus, was el­e­vated to head coach for the game and it re­mains un­clear how long Zim­mer will be out. Full-time of­fi­cials: Troy Vin­cent, the NFL’s vice pres­i­dent of foot­ball op­er­a­tions, said he ex­pects the league to hire as many as 17 full-time of­fi­cials this off­sea­son.

The ad­di­tions are al­lowed un­der the col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment and would in­crease the size of of­fi­ci­at­ing crews from seven to eight, Vin­cent said.

Cur­rently, NFL of­fi­ci­at­ing crews are part-time staff and hold jobs out­side foot­ball. Vin­cent said full-time of­fi­cials would al­low the league to spend more time on train­ing and con­sul­ta­tion on a year-round ba­sis. Cut­ler’s sea­son over: Bears quar­ter­back Jay Cut­ler will have surgery to re­pair the labrum in his right shoul­der and is out for the sea­son.

Cut­ler in­jured his shoul­der dur­ing a loss to the Giants on Nov. 20 but fin­ished the game. Coach John Fox ini­tially said the in­jury was not sea­son-end­ing, but af­ter work­ing through treat­ment op­tions Cut­ler chose to have the surgery. Surgery for Gronkowski: Three-time Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski is hav­ing surgery for a her­ni­ated disk in his back and is ex­pected to be out for at least eight weeks.

The in­jury is thought to have oc­curred dur­ing the Pa­tri­ots’ loss to the Sea­hawks on Nov. 13, in which Gronkowski said he re­ceived “prob­a­bly one of the hard­est hits I’ve got in my ca­reer” from Sea­hawks safety Earl Thomas. Ex­tra points: Bills wide re­ceiver Sammy Watkins re­turned to prac­tice on a lim­ited ba­sis but is deal­ing with a bro­ken bone in his left foot, ac­cord­ing to of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor An­thony Lynn. ... Cen­ter Nick Man­gold fully prac­ticed with the Jets for the first time since sprain­ing his an­kle Oct. 23. How­ever, five other starters missed prac­tice: wide re­ceiver Bran­don Mar­shall. (foot, knee), of­fen­sive tackle Breno Gi­a­co­mini (back, shoul­der), line­backer Lorenzo Mauldin (an­kle), de­fen­sive tackle Steve McLen­don (ham­string) and safety Calvin Pryor (con­cus­sion). ... The NFL is re-eval­u­at­ing its sched­ul­ing process but has no plans to dis­con­tinue weekly Thurs­day games.

JIM MONE/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Cow­boys wide re­ceiver Dez Bryant (88) cel­e­brates with quar­ter­back Dak Prescott (4) af­ter catch­ing an 8-yard fourth-quar­ter touch­down pass against the Vik­ings. Dallas won, 17-15.

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