ARLINGTON, Texas – The Vikings played without nose tackle Linval Joseph on Sunday night, and they might have to go without him a little while longer.
Multiple sources said Joseph, who missed the Vikings’ final two days of practice this week and was ruled out for the 28-24 victory over the Cowboys, had an operation on a meniscus this past week. Joseph has been on the Vikings’ injury report with a knee injury since after the team’s victory at Detroit on Oct. 20, but he had not missed an actual practice since then until Thursday.
The Vikings, sources said, are optimistic about having Joseph back in the near future, and it’s worth noting the team didn’t make a move to put him on injured reserve after his operation. A knee operation, though, would seem likely to keep the 31-year-old out at least through the team’s Week 12 bye. The Vikings play at home vs. Denver on Sunday before heading into their week off.
Sunday’s game was only the second Joseph has missed since the 2015 season.
Targeted early, often
Cornerback Mike Hughes kept busy during his fourth NFL start. Starting in place of injured Trae Waynes, inactive because of an ankle injury, Hughes was targeted early and often by Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
Hughes was beaten on a couple of comeback routes by receiver Amari Cooper, who later tiptoed along the sideline for an impressive 20-yard grab to convert a third-and-12 play against Hughes in the second quarter. Hughes struck back with a third-down deflection that could have been an interception.
“I have to get back into the lab and work on my hands,” Hughes said.
Cooper was targeted 14 times, catching 11 passes for 147 yards, including a 12-yard tiptoe touchdown in the third quarter. Hughes had a team-high seven tackles and two passes defensed.
Second-year cornerback Holton Hill also saw an increased workload with Waynes sidelined. Hill, defending the slot in the first quarter, deflected a third-down pass intended for Cowboys veteran tight end Jason Witten.
The only turnover of the game came on the final play, when Prescott’s Hail Mary pass into the end zone was intercepted by Jayron Kearse. It was the first career interception for the Vikings safety.
Right guard Josh Kline was placed in the concussion protocol after taking a hit in the third quarter. He did not return to the game.
Dakota Dozier, who has started three games this season, replaced Kline and enjoyed a drive that included 10 straight runs against an exhausted Cowboys defense. Dozier, a sixth-year NFL veteran, would continue to start if Kline misses more game time.
“You got to love it. The one thing I love is imposing our will,” Dozier said. “When we can move them off the ball, it feels real good.”
Right tackle Brian O’Neill also briefly departed because of injury, but he returned.
Durability was among reasons the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins to a three-year deal in free agency; his 74-game streak now ranks third among active NFL quarterbacks.
Cousins moved ahead of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, whose 136-game streak ended Sunday when a back injury forced his first absence since 2010. Only the Chargers’ Philip Rivers (219) and the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson (121) have longer active playing streaks than Cousins.
• In his first game, defensive tackle Armon Watts had three tackles and shared a sack with Everson Griffen.
• The Vikings didn’t give up a rushing touchdown for the first time since Dec. 18, 2016, vs. Indianapolis.