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Sunday, October 17, 2010
Rapid Reaction: Vikings 24, Cowboys 21

By Matt Mosley

MINNEAPOLIS -- Some quick thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys' 24-21 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

What it means: I buried the Cowboys after last Sunday's loss to the Titans, but they made it official Sunday in the Metrodome. And it seemed appropriate that it was a couple of special-teams breakdowns that led to this loss. We witnessed two very mediocre teams in action, but as usual, it was the Cowboys who made the most mistakes. At 1-4, the Cowboys have put themselves in the ultimate hole. And they have no one else to blame but themselves.

"Special-teams" unit? The Cowboys had a 14-7 lead at halftime, but the coverage unit gave up a 95-yard touchdown return by Percy Harvin on the opening kickoff of the second half. This is the same unit that gave up a 73-yard return against the Titans last week. Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis vowed it wouldn't happen again, but ... it happened. The Cowboys also had a nice punt return by Dez Bryant wiped out because of a holding penalty on Alan Ball. You won't find a more undisciplined team in the NFL than the Cowboys.

The interception: The score was tied at 21 in the fourth quarter when Tony Romo dropped back to pass and looked for tight end Jason Witten. Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson showed blitz but then dropped back in coverage at the last second. Romo didn't account for him and threw a lazy pass toward Witten that was intercepted. The Vikings kicked a field goal to make it 24-21 after that play. It was Henderson's second interception of the game. The other one came off a tipped ball. At least six of Romo's interceptions this season have been tipped, according to my numbers.

Where was Miles? Miles Austin had a 68-yard touchdown called back because he was flagged for pass interference. But for some reason, the Cowboys didn't go back to him. He's their best offensive player, and they effectively froze him out of the game in the second half.

What's next: I supposed some folks will make the argument that a win at home next Monday night against the New York Giants would keep the Cowboys' season alive. You won't hear that argument from me. This season's likely over and it's time to try to figure out who will eventually take over for coach Wade Phillips. I certainly don't think that person is on the current staff.