Dallas Cowboys: Minnesota Vikings

Live blog: Vikings at Cowboys

November, 3, 2013
Join our ESPN.com NFL experts as they break down the Minnesota Vikings' visit to the Dallas Cowboys. Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 1 p.m. ET. And, be sure to visit our NFL Nation Blitz page for commentary from every game, as well as fan photos and the latest buzz from Twitter. See you there.

Peterson backs run game in Texas schools

October, 31, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- High school football in Texas has evolved from "run first, pass later," to "pass first, and don't ever run."

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, considered one of the top players at his position, is from Palestine, Texas, two hours southeast of Dallas. When Peterson was in high school, running the ball was still in vogue. He rushed for 305 yards and six touchdowns in the first half of a game in 2003, his senior season.

His high school coach elected to sit him for the second half. But recently, Texas high schools have turned from run-oriented offenses to the spread.

"It's cool, it is what it is," Peterson said on a conference call with reporters. "Me among other running backs in the NFL, we're going to make sure we keep it alive. There's a lot of kids out there that look up to us and pride themselves on being the best, and it will show. When you put on film as a running back, this is what you can do, you can't be denied. As long as we're able to keep young guys out there hungry, fighting to be the best and giving them something to shoot for, then the running back will always stay alive and be relevant."

Kicking game remains unsettled

August, 28, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS -- David Buehler is out with a hip flexor and needs to return quickly to have any hope of securing kicking duties for the Cowboys.

Veteran Shayne Graham made a 38-yard field goal Saturday night against the Vikings, and the rookie from Oklahoma State, Dan Bailey, made two -- from 37 and 41 yards. Graham sent three of his six kickoffs into the end zone.

Buehler is doing some light kicking as he recovers from his hip issue, but with one preseason game left, the competition for the kicking job is turning into a two-man race.

"It was good to see our kickers get some work, obviously kicking off and the extra points and field goals," coach Jason Garrett said. "You want to see them out there in live action and see if they can take the work they're doing on the practice field to the game field. It seemed like each of them handled it well."

Kickoffs are Buehler's speciality. He has 51 touchbacks the last two seasons. However, with the NFL moving the kickoffs from the 30- to the 35-yard line, having a kickoff specialist isn't that big of a deal now. Making field goals is -- and Buehler has been inconsistent at that.

Last season, his first as the full-time kicker, Buehler made 75 percent of his field-goal tries.

The Cowboys want something better, and that's why there's a competition for the kicking job.

And after Saturday night, it appears the position is still unsettled.

Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 23, Vikings 17

August, 27, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS -- This is the last time the Cowboys' first-team offense and defense could get their acts together before the start of the regular season. The passing attack looked pretty good for the Cowboys, but the run defense struggled, and while it was Adrian Peterson doing the work, the Cowboys could have done a better job with their push up front.

As for the game, the Cowboys won 23-17.

Cowboys make news: Before the start of the game, the Cowboys made some news by sitting Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the team made the move as a business decision. The Cowboys are trying to lower salary cap figures for several of their players in the next two seasons and want to do so with Gurode. However, it's not known if Gurode would be willing to take a pay cut, or if the Cowboys can find a team to trade him to. Team officials will meet with Gurode and his agent, Kennard McGuire, on Sunday to sort out the details.

Romo looks good: Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo finished his night after leading the first-team offense to a touchdown and a field goal. Romo completed 15 of 20 passes for 141 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Romo looked poised under center, and he did move out of the pocket to complete some passes while pressured. With Gurode out of the lineup, the Cowboys started rookie Kevin Kowalski at center.

Run defense struggles: Peterson ran all over the Cowboys' first-team defense. He rushed for 69 yards on 11 carries in the first half with several big runs on third down. The Cowboys' front seven was pushed around by the Vikings' offensive line in the first half.

Running game looks pretty good: Felix Jones had just five carries, but he gained 20 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown run. Jones looked good in hitting the holes, making defenders miss, breaking tackles and reading his blocks. If there were any questions about Jones' abilities to take over the lead role for Marion Barber, they should have been answered this preseason. Now all that's left for the Cowboys to do is settle on the fourth running back spot, if they want to have one. Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray both ran well Saturday night. Phillip Tanner was on the field before Lonyae Miller for the first time this preseason. Tanner is ahead of Miller on the depth chart, and if he plays well on special teams he could make the 53-man roster.

Injury report: Cornerback Alan Ball, who was performing well in the preseason, suffered an elbow injury in the first half and didn't return. Ball returned a blocked field goal 20 yards for a touchdown. Also, tight end Martellus Bennett injured his right ankle late in the third quarter. He couldn't put any weight on the ankle and needed to be helped from the field.

Gurode, Jenkins and Austin are out

August, 27, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS -- In addition to center Andre Gurode not playing tonight in the third preseason game vs. Minnesota, the Cowboys will not have the following players active tonight: K Kai Forbath (quad), WR Teddy Williams (hamstring), K David Buehler (hip), WR Miles Austin (hamstring), CB Mike Jenkins (stinger), CB Terence Newman, LB Bruce Carter (knee), G Montrae Holland (back), C Phil Costa (knee) and DE Marcus Spears (groin).

Keith Brooking who has missed nearly three weeks and the first two preseason games with a hamstring injury, will make his preseason debut tonight. Also, running back Tashard Choice, who also missed about the same amount of time, will also play tonight.

Kevin Kowalski will start for Gurode at center and Bill Nagy will play left guard for Phil Costa.

Live in-game chat: Cowboys-Vikings

August, 27, 2011
MINNESOTA -- The third preseason game of the season kicks off Saturday night as the Cowboys travel to Mall of America Field to battle the Vikings.

Feel free to fire away with questions. We'll start answering at 7 p.m.

Cowboys-Vikings reopen the Metrodome

August, 27, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Cowboys take on the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night it will be the first game here since Dec. 5. That day the Vikings defeated the Buffalo Bills at the Metrodome.

But a severe snow storm on Dec. 11 gave stadium and team officials concern. The next day the roof caved in forcing the Vikings to postpone their game with the New York Giants, eventually moving it to Detroit.

It was just the latest example of how outdated the Metrodome.

A storyin the Minneapolis Star-Tribune details what happened with the Metrodome last year and it's comeback. There is a new roof and field.

There's a good quote from Vikings defensive end Jared Allen about his feelings regarding the Metrodome: "It's just a matter of fact that the Metrodome is outdated. It's the only stadium I've ever been in where I have to ride the vending elevator down to the locker room, where I have to park in the admissions parking lot and walk through the ticket office."

Vikings ownership wants a new stadium and Jerry Jones, the Cowboys owner, has supported that in public. It will be interesting to see if Jones talks about the Vikings getting a new stadium following Saturday night's game.

Either way the dome is back and it's just another side story regarding the dress rehearsal for both teams.

Power Rankings: Top 10 NFL helmets

May, 17, 2011
NFL power rankings: HelmetsESPN.com IllustrationOur writers break down NFL team helmets in the latest edition of ESPN.com's Power Rankings.
As we continue our Power Rankings series, it’s time to look beyond the player and examine what’s wrapped around his head.

Let’s blow the lid off this NFL helmet caper, shall we?

The NFL helmet has long been an obsession. Whether it’s the unmistakable star of the Dallas Cowboys, the beyond-the-gridiron meaning in Pittsburgh or the great helmet–change fiasco in San Francisco in the early 1990s, the NFL has been all about the helmet. After all, in football, we don’t look at faces, we look at logos.

Come on, who hasn’t spent a Saturday afternoon feeding countless quarters into a gumball machine full of worthless plastic all in the name of getting a complete set of NFL helmets?

So, we put our artistic eyes together (with the courtesy of professional help) and came up with our top 10 NFL helmets. Consensus? No, not even close. In a 2011 Power Rankings record, 26 lids collected votes. Eye of the beholder, folks.

Interestingly, two of the six teams that got no lid love received kudos from our guest judge. I’d take her word over mine. You should see what I’m wearing right now. Think John Belushi in "Animal House." Then take it down a few notches.

We’ve had our battles this spring when it came to ranking players, coaches and owners, but this task has to be the most subjective of all. It’s vanilla or chocolate. Or, in this case, purple or red.

Still, there were several helmets -- traditional teams seemed to catch the imagination -- that received more votes than others.

Fittingly, the winning helmet is of a team that has been scoring big during this entire series: the Pittsburgh Steelers. The black helmet received 50 voting points, cruising to an easy win. Second-place Indianapolis, and its famous horseshoe, received 41 points.

AFC North blogger James Walker was the only person to vote for the Steelers, who received top-10 votes from six of eight voters, as the No. 1 helmet. Only NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert (he received big-league redemption -- we’ll explain later) and AFC East blogger Tim Graham shunned the Steelers.

Walker explained that it was fitting for the Steelers’ helmet to win because it represents a gritty, historic city.

“Most helmets have a mascot or the team’s name or initials, but Pittsburgh’s helmet actually has in-depth meaning,” Walker said. “The colors of the diamond shapes each represent elements of steel, which was once a major industry in Pittsburgh. Also, Pittsburgh is the only NFL team with its helmet logo on one side. I think the uniqueness and tradition helps separate the Steelers.”

Here’s the rest of the top-10 list after the Steelers and Colts: Oakland Raiders (my first-place vote -- just look cool, baby), Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers, Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins.

Below are some key aspects of the vote:

Walking the Runway: We are thrilled to have a celebrity presence this week. Former "Project Runway" contestant Peach Carr, a successful Chicago fashion designer and self-professed sports nut, lent her expertise this week.

Predictably, her opinion differed greatly from many of us slouches. Hey, sportswriters are rarely accused of being spiffy, snappy, hip or even presentable, so what do you expect?

The most telling of Carr’s selections was her choice of the San Francisco 49ers at No. 2. They were among the six teams shut out by the rest of us. I’d listen to the Peach, San Francisco.

Carr went with the hometown Bears as her top choice. The Bears finished ninth in our poll. Major fashion buttons to Seifert. He was the only voter to agree with the professional. Reached for comment, Seifert had this to say: “Yesssssss.”

Well said, Mr. Blackwell.

Carr placed the Houston Texans as her No. 6 helmet. It was also one of the six helmets the rest of us neglected.

You made it work, Peach. Auf Wiedersehen to the rest of us.

The Lone Vote State: In an upset, the Cowboys’ helmet finished sixth. Graham was the lone blogger to vote Dallas’ helmet first.

“I was shocked to see nobody else put the Cowboys at the top of their ballots,” Graham said. “That helmet is the most iconic of them all. The lone blue star is known immediately by grandmothers who never watch football. It's a classic look that strikes you whether you're watching from the stands or at home. There's no tiny print to read, no cluttered symbols to decipher. You see it, you know it. And it likely conjures a visceral reaction whether you're a fan or not.”

Going traditional: In addition to the 49ers and Texans, the Tennessee Titans, Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals were the only teams shut out by the eight voters. The 49ers are the only team in the group that has a history-rich franchise. However, the top 10 is dominated by tradition-rich teams.

NFC West blogger Mike Sando saw a trend.

“My thought is that success helps a brand become appealing in a lot of cases,” Sando said. “Would the Steelers' helmet really rank first if the team had tanked every year? I do not think so. Look at the Colts, Raiders, Packers, Cowboys, Browns ... all have storied histories.”

Kicking it old school: If the “throwback” helmets were allowed in the voting, I bet things would be different. My prized possession (probably says more about my collection of stuff than my sentiment) is my complete set of NFL throwback mini helmets. It is proudly displayed in my office.

There are some beauties in that collection. That’s one of the reasons I went with the New York Jets' helmet as my No. 2 choice. I like the old-style look. My favorite helmet of all time is the old-school New England Patriots helmet. I love me some Patriot Pat and couldn’t get enough of watching the Patriots when the league honored the AFL in 2009.

Put your thinking helmet on. What do you think is the most fashionable helmet in the NFL? Fill the comments section below with your thoughts.

Cowboys in six-way tie for draft spot

December, 21, 2010
IRVING -- The Vikings' loss to the Bears created a six-team logjam for the No. 7 spot in the 2011 NFL draft.

The Cowboys, Browns, Texans, Redskins, Vikings and Titans are all tied with 5-9 records.

Next up for the Cowboys: The Arizona Cardinals, who are in a three-way tie with the Lions and Bills for the No. 4 spot in the draft.

The more the Cowboys win, the lower they'll draft in the first round. We believe that the Cowboys will be looking to draft a defensive back or offensive lineman -- both pressing needs -- in the first round.

Todd McShay ranked these corners with the highest grades before the start of the year: Nebraska's Prince Amukamara (95), Virginia's Ras-I Dowling (93) and Janoris Jenkins of Florida who got a 92.

Mel Kiper's Big Board, released earlier this month, had Amukamara at No. 5 and LSU's Patrick Peterson at No. 4.

At offensive line, McShay has Colorado tackle Nate Solder with the highest grade at 93. He's followed by Florida center Rodney Hudson (92) and Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi (91).

Carimi is No. 21 on the Big Board.

Here's what McShay had to say on our Insider Blog about Carimi: "He's a better overall player now than the one I saw during preseason film evaluation. Carimi continues to improve his technique, especially his hand use, and he playing more under control and with better balance. In terms of athleticism in pass protection he's a notch below Jake Long when Long came out of Michigan, but Carimi is a very strong run blocker and at the very least will be a starting right tackle as an NFL rookie."

We're not saying the Cowboys can get any of these players, it's just interesting to know what's out there -- especially if the Cowboys finish at 6-10.

Last year, the Bills finished 6-10 and had the ninth pick of the draft and got running back C.J. Spiller.

What's available if the Cowboys should win their remaining two regular-season games and finish 7-9? Last year's case example: the Dolphins, Jaguars and Bears.

The Bears gave up their pick in the Jay Cutler trade to the Broncos, which picked 18th. The Dolphins would have drafted 12th, but they traded down. The Jags picked 10th.

Celebration penalty on Sam Hurd?

October, 18, 2010
IRVING, Texas -- Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said he talked to Carl Johnson, the NFL's VP of officiating, and the excessive celebration penalty wasn't actually on Miles Austin. It was on Sam Hurd.

Hurd, apparently, flashed the "Hook'em Horns" sign like Roy Williams always does, making it a choreographed celebration deemed illegal in the rule book. So the leapfrog that caused Austin so much angst the last two days was not the reason the flag came out.

An official on the field told Phillips that the penalty was on Austin. But Phillips said he called Johnson for clarification Monday morning and was told it was on Sam Hurd.

Phillips said the team is going with "college rules" when it comes to celebration.

"Our celebration needs to be after the game, after we win," Phillips said.

In-game chat: Cowboys at Vikings

October, 17, 2010
It's being called the Panic Bowl. The 1-3 Cowboys visit the 1-3 Vikings with neither team able to afford another loss. Join the ESPNDallas.com crew to discuss the game as these two NFC preseason favorites try to remain relevant.

Behind enemy lines: Adrian Peterson

October, 14, 2010
Adrian Peterson, pro bowl running back for the Vikings joins Ian and Nate to talk about playing against the Cowboys, the health of Brett Favre, what it's like playing with Randy Moss and more.

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NFC doesn't have a clear favorite

October, 4, 2010
The Cowboys picked a good year to stumble out of the gates. Four weeks into the season, there doesn’t appear to be a clear favorite in the NFC.

Conventional preseason wisdom was that there were four legitimate contenders: the Saints, Vikings, Packers and Cowboys. None of those teams flashed championship form during the season’s first quarter.

The defending Super Bowl champion Saints are an ugly 3-1. Their wins came by a combined 10 points over three sub-.500 teams. An offense that led the league in scoring last season has been middle of the pack, averaging 19.8 points, a drop of more than a dozen.

The Packers are also 3-1. “Doesn't feel like it, does it?” coach Mike McCarthy told reporters after Green Bay had to hang on for dear life in a 28-26 win over the Lions. This came on the heels of the Packers committing 18 penalties to gift-wrap a game for the Bears.

The 1-2 Vikings, whose lone win came over the Lions, are the biggest mess of the bunch. Brett Favre’s passer rating (60.4) is stunningly close to his age with six interceptions so far, one shy of last season’s career-low total.

The Cowboys stubbed their toe in the first two games, figuring out ways to lose to the Redskins and Bears, but they went into the bye on a high. Dallas’ convincing road win over the Houston Texans provided evidence that the Cowboys can perform like an elite team.

Maybe the Falcons deserve to be taken seriously as NFC contenders. Atlanta is 3-1 with its lone loss coming in overtime at Pittsburgh. But the Falcons sure didn’t earn any style points by needing a last-second field goal at home Sunday to beat the winless 49ers.

Chicago, the other 3-1 team in the NFC, has wins over the Packers and Cowboys. But it’s pretty much impossible to believe in the Bears after watching turnover-prone Jay Cutler take nine sacks in the first half of Sunday night’s loss to the Giants before leaving with a concussion.

The Cowboys are at the bottom of the NFC East standings behind three 2-2 teams, but it’s tough not to like their odds of winning the division for the third time in four seasons.

We promised not to bring up the Super Bowl until the Cowboys at least crack .500. But anything is possible with the NFC mired in a muck of mediocrity.

No Brett Favre? No motivating quotes

August, 3, 2010

SAN ANTONIO – It’s a topic the Cowboys didn’t want to touch: How would Brett Favre’s retirement affect the Cowboys’ road to the Super Bowl?

“I haven’t thought about that,” Tony Romo said, avoiding the subject like it was a blitzing linebacker. “I can’t think about another team and what they’re doing at camp and things of that nature. I know Brett on a personal level, so I’m happy for him, but we’re worried about us getting better.”

Other Cowboys offered politically correct answers about how the Vikings had a lot of talented players who would pick up the slack if Favre stays home in Mississippi.

It’s wise for the Cowboys to avoid offering an honest opinion. They can’t possibly believe that Tarvaris Jackson is capable of quarterbacking a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

The Cowboys have an Oct. 17 date in Minnesota. It’d make no sense to provide bulletin-board material for arguably the NFL’s best running back or front four that dominated the Cowboys in January. The Favre-less Vikings went 10-6 in 2008, so the Minnesota trip would still be far from a gimme game.

But Favre is the guy that vaulted the Vikings from a playoff team to an NFC heavyweight. Without him, Minnesota is on a tier beneath the Cowboys and Packers among challengers to the Saints’ throne.

And there’s another good reason for the Cowboys to shy away from questions about the impact of Favre’s absence.

“It’s like Groundhog Day with him, isn’t it?” Patrick Crayton said. “I’m not buying it at all, man. They still got what, a month left in training camp? Give him about a week and a half. He’ll change his mind.”

If Favre stays on the farm for the regular season opener, then the Cowboys’ road to the Super Bowl will be a little bit easier.

Tony Romo appreciates Brett Favre

August, 3, 2010
SAN ANTONIO – As rumors of Brett Favre’s retirement swirled, Tony Romo took time to reminisce about the quarterback he grew up idolizing.

“From anybody’s perspective, whether it’s [media], the fans or even the players, you can’t help but appreciate the way he plays the game and his talent and ability and the level at which he played for such a long time,” Romo said. “Once again, I haven’t heard anything, but if this is the case, he deserves every accolade there is.”

Romo said he’s surprised by the news, simply because Favre played so well last season and has an opportunity to play for a Super Bowl contender with Minnesota again.

“But it’s better to go I think the year before than a year too late,” Romo said. “He had an incredible season, maybe the best of his career, last year. To have that at his age and to do that was outstanding. That’s fun to watch.”

Romo grew up in Wisconsin watching Favre, whose gunslinging style rubbed off on Romo. It’s a storyline Romo tried to downplay in recent years as he became Favre’s friendly rival.

As he talked Tuesday morning in an Alamodome tunnel, Romo raved as much about Favre the man as he did Favre the future Hall of Fame quarterback.

“He is who he is,” Romo said. “You weren’t going to change Brett. I enjoy people who you know who they are. They’re not trying to put up a fašade or be fake in any way. He was real. He’s a man’s man.”

After a brief pause, Romo couldn’t resist poking a little fun at the on-again, off-again nature of Favre’s retirement plans.

“If he decides this afternoon to come back,” Romo said, “scrap everything I just said.”