Mike McCarthy's Cowboys aren't what you'd call a smashing success in 2020, but his creativity might have helped them get a win in Week 11.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero provided a revelatory story behind Dallas' upset victory during Monday's edition of The Aftermath. It involved large, fresh fruit, a tool of destruction and an old routine borrowed from a notable comedian.
McCarthy gathered his squad in the team hotel's ballroom Saturday night and apologized for not adequately emphasizing the importance of the team's objectives for the week before turning to the most important goal: Hammer the ball out of the hands of Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. McCarthy then grabbed a sledgehammer -- not a prop, but a legitimate, commercial-grade sledgehammer -- and had staffers roll in watermelons decorated with individual objectives for the game.
On cue, McCarthy wielded the sledgehammer, announced the objective and smashed the watermelon. He continued down the line, much to the delight of his players, soaking his own pants with watermelon juice before arriving to a fruit adorned with Cook's picture, the NFL's leading rusher entering Week 11.
Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence spotted the fruit, jumped up and exclaimed he had to be the one to smash Watermelon Dalvin Cook. McCarthy handed off the sledgehammer and watched Lawrence obliterate the melon, setting the tone for Sunday's affair.
"It's important to have fun," McCarthy told reporters Monday, per The Athletic. "We were just using the approach, honoring the great comedian Gallagher. The players were into it. We had some fun."
Dallas took that energy into U.S. Bank Stadium, forcing three fumbles (two recovered by the Cowboys) that helped swing the contest in the Cowboys' favor. One of those fumbles came from the hands of Cook, which was recovered by none other than Lawrence.
"We had to bring out own watermelons," McCarthy said. "It's hard to find watermelons this time of year in Minneapolis."
Dallas is fortunate to be playing in the NFL's worst division, and at 3-7, has a legitimate chance to win the NFC East. As Pelissero noted, if they go on a run, the win over the Vikings might soon be known as The Sledgehammer Game -- and McCarthy might finally have a feather in his Cowboys cap in a tough season that still has a chance to become an enjoyable one.