Sunday, November 3, 2013
Vikings-Cowboys: Halftime observations
By Ben Goessling
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Through one half at AT&T Stadium, the Vikings' major depth issues in the secondary haven't burned them yet. They've missed several chances at interceptions, and Robert Blanton replaced Mistral Raymond at safety after he missed a couple tackles early, but the Vikings have a 10-6 lead over the Dallas Cowboys primarily because they've found a way to approximate the formula they used last year: pressure from their front four, safe throws from Christian Ponder and a heavy dose of Adrian Peterson.
The reigning NFL MVP carried 14 times for 60 yards in the first half, as the Vikings ran 37 plays and held the ball for 16:37. Last week, they ran 43 plays and didn't hold the ball for 20 minutes the entire game.
Ponder went 14-for-21 for 117 yards in the first half, running for a 6-yard touchdown and extending another drive with a 16-yard run. The Vikings have put him in the shotgun once again, which has given him more time to make some reads and seems to have settled him down somewhat. The Vikings have used a two-back set for just nine plays, by my count, but if they can make that work to run the ball, and keep Ponder more settled than he appears to be when he's dropping back, it might work for the time being.
What we'll have to see in the second half is if the secondary can hold up. The Vikings got stopped on fourth down from the Cowboys' 16 in the second quarter and had another long drive stall at the Cowboys' 4. That could spell trouble for Minnesota if the Cowboys' defense stiffens up and the offensive line can protect Tony Romo. But for now, the Vikings are handling things.
One injury note: Right tackle Phil Loadholt is out with a concussion and was taken to the locker room after the Vikings' last touchdown drive. J'Marcus Webb, who came to the Vikings after the Bears cut him in August, will take Loadholt's spot. Considering how much the Vikings like to run to the right, that's a development worth watching.