The Vikings replaced their long snapper prior to Sunday afternoon’s video game against the Dallas Cowboys, and Andrew DePaola was so strong that no one observed him.

Not surprisingly, Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer didn’t have much to say about DePaola after a 31-28 loss. Asked if the veteran,- signed this week to the practice team and promoted before kickoff, may permanently change Austin Cutting on punts and field-goal shots, Zimmer responded, “I don’t understand.”

Why would he? In the wake of his group’s very first loss in more than a month, Zimmer had conspicuous players doing obvious things on his mind:

— Cornerback Chris Jones not so much missing a tackle as ignoring one on a go-ahead, 42-yard goal run by the Cowboys’ Tony Pollard in the second half.

— Cornerback Kris Boyd negating an effective fake punt due to the fact that he was waving to the punter, then getting punished for a block in the back (!) on the ensuing punt.

— Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook losing fumbles that led to Cowboys scores.

— 8 penalties for 80 backyards.

” We had our opportunities,” Zimmer said. “We made a lot of errors.”

So much for the playoffs.

The dream isn’t officially over, but it’s down on one knee. The Vikings didn’t need to run the table to advance to expanded playoffs that likely will take 8 groups from each conference, however losing to Dallas wasn’t part of the formula. When the optimists indicated the “soft schedule” Minnesota might ride into the postseason, they were looking directly at the Cowboys.

Until Sunday, Dallas was winless and balanced 10.25 points a video game given that losing star quarterback Dak Prescott to a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5. However they were a various group on Sunday.

It happens. Some of you may keep in mind a Vikings group that started the season 1-5, then went to Green Bay and beat the Packers. However when the Vikings went on to drill Detroit and, more impressively, beat the Bears in Chicago, it appeared the group was moving in the best direction.

They might still be; knowing is in some cases awful, and there are some appealing players getting big-boy snaps today. However it would be dishonest to pretend the Vikings didn’t take a step backwards on Sunday.

When Minnesota drilled Detroit 34-20 3 weeks back, they were the tighter, smarter group (regardless of 2 blocked punts). On Sunday, they made sufficient unforced mistakes to waste a 115-yard rushing game from Dalvin Cook, 123 getting lawns and 2 touchdowns from Adam Thielen, and one of Kirk Cousins’ much better games– 22 of 30 for 314 lawns, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

“I really seemed like we were going to win the ballgame throughout the entire course of the game,” Zimmer said.

A great deal of us did, bro. A great deal of us did. However at crunch time, Dallas played better.

Minnesota had 2 possibilities at interceptions throughout Dallas’ last goal drive but could not transport them in. And as good as Cousins, Prepare and Thielen were, the Vikings’ last opportunity went nowhere. They had 1:37 to drive 75 yards for the winning rating however didn’t acquire a lawn, losing the ball on downs when Cousins’ fourth-and-6 pass bounced off the hand of a moving Thielen.

“Still a lot of football to be played, however we have to recuperate rapidly and return on track,” Cousins stated.

Now it’s Dallas that appears to have a possibility to make the playoffs, not since they appear to be getting better, however since with Sunday’s win, every group in the NFC East has 3 victories. The Vikings (4-6) still have mathematics on their side, however the method they played Sunday doesn’t bode well.

There has actually been improvement, but that defense is just too young and too banged up, the discovering curve expensive.