NFL Nation: 2013 Week 9 MIN at DAL Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Dallas Cowboys

November, 3, 2013

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys' 27-23 win against the Minnesota Vikings:

What it means for the Cowboys: They never make things easy, going down to the final minute before dropping the one-win Vikings.

Tony Romo's 7-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Harris won the game with 35 seconds to go and kept the Cowboys in first place in the NFC East with a 5-4 record. Since the start of the 2011 season, the Cowboys are 17-1 against teams that are .500 or worse.

The win was the Cowboys’ fourth at AT&T Stadium, matching their home win total from a year ago.

It was an ugly win, but Garrett will undoubtedly say winning in the NFL is a hard thing to do. It’s even harder when you let bad teams stick around.


Who was most key to the Cowboys' win?


Discuss (Total votes: 11,353)

Stock watch: Tony Romo, rising. With the season on the line, Romo responded with a game-winning drive after throwing what could have been a crippling interception. Romo completed 7 of 9 passes on the 90-yard drive.

Forget the ground game: The return of DeMarco Murray was supposed to bring some sort of return of the running game, but it never happened.

The Cowboys chose to attack through the air against the 29th-ranked defense, but it’s not as if Minnesota has a great run defense. In the second quarter, the Cowboys got to the Vikings' 12 and did not even give a pretense of running the ball with back-to-back plays out of an empty set and a three-wide-receiver formation. The result was a drop and two sacks, forcing the Cowboys to settle for a Dan Bailey field goal.

Murray, who was playing after a two-game absence with a knee injury, finished with four carries for 31 yards and the Cowboys had just nine carries for the game.

Seeing stars: Last week the Cowboys couldn’t stop Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who had 329 yards. This week it was Adrian Peterson.

It wasn’t a historic day for Peterson, but he had some vintage moments when it mattered most on his way to 140 yards rushing. He busted free for a 52-yard run at the Minnesota 28 and then scored the go-ahead touchdown with 5:40 to play when he ran through safety Jeff Heath and linebacker Justin Durant for an 11-yard score on fourth-and-1.

What’s next: The Cowboys travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints next week. This was a game New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has had circled since he joined the Saints after he was dismissed as the Cowboys' defensive coordinator in January. The Cowboys have lost seven of their eight games to the Saints. Their only victory came at the Superdome in 2009 (24-17) when New Orleans was undefeated.

Rapid Reaction: Minnesota Vikings

November, 3, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- A few thoughts on the Minnesota Vikings' 27-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

What it means: The Vikings have matched their worst start in franchise history. They are now 1-7, having lost three games on touchdowns with less than a minute to play. Sunday's came on a scoring strike from Tony Romo to Dwayne Harris with 44 seconds left, and even though the Vikings held the ball for nearly 10 minutes in the fourth quarter, they went home wondering how they could let another game slip through their fingers.

Stock watch: Rising: Adrian Peterson. He'd never had a big game in his home state, but on Sunday, Peterson surged in the second half. He ran for 140 yards, breaking off a 52-yard run in the fourth quarter and finishing the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1. On the play, Peterson secured the first down, got a push from Chase Ford and bulled his way to the end zone, carrying Cowboys defenders from the 3-yard line to the end zone. It was his first 100-yard game since the Vikings' last win on Sept. 29 in London, and Peterson ran for more yards in the second half than he'd run for in an entire game since then.

Depleted secondary: Already missing Chris Cook, Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford, the Vikings saw their secondary depth depleted even further in the fourth quarter when Xavier Rhodes went off with a leg injury. That left A.J. Jefferson, Marcus Sherels, Josh Robinson and Shaun Prater as the team's only healthy corners. It looked like the Vikings might survive when Jefferson picked off Romo late in the fourth quarter, but on Dallas' last drive, Romo sliced through the middle of the Vikings' secondary on a nine-play, 90-yard drive, completing a touchdown pass to Harris, who beat Sherels on a crossing route.

Sack-fumble looms large: After right tackle Phil Loadholt left at the end of the first half with a concussion, J'Marcus Webb started the second half with the Vikings pinned at their own 5-yard line. He got beat by George Selvie, who sacked Ponder and forced a fumble that Nick Hayden recovered for a touchdown.

What's next: The Vikings (1-7) face the Washington Redskins at home on Thursday night.