COMMENTARY | After being blown in the last three games, the Minnesota Vikings returned to their early season habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the final minute of the game, as Dallas scored with 35 seconds remaining to defeat Minnesota 27-23 on Sunday. It was the third game the Vikings have lost in the final minute this season.
It was the first time in a month that the Vikings haven't embarrassed themselves on the field, although the Cowboys kept things closer than they needed to be with eight dropped passes, but it's also a telling statement when a team's best game of the year isn't enough to beat a .500 opponent.
The Vikings did some good things, such as get Adrian Peterson involved in the offense once again, and A.J. Jefferson had the first interception by a Viking cornerback all season, but also had their share of errors, which included a missed extra point and Christian Ponder's fumble in the end zone, which was recovered for a Dallas touchdown.
Ponder did all of the things that Vikings fans have come to expect this season; he made several nice plays, such as running it in for a touchdown and threw a touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph, but his fumble and interception both proved costly. His decision-making was questionable at times, electing to run the ball in several instances where he had open receivers downfield, and his last-second 'Hail Mary' attempt fell woefully short of the end zone.
Once again, the Minnesota coaching staff played a key role in the loss, with defensive end Brian Robison and defensive tackle Kevin Williams both openly critical of coaching decisions down the stretch, particularly the decision to rush just three linemen on the Cowboys' game-winning drive. Romo, who had been sacked three times on the day, had ample opportunity to find open receivers against an injury-depleted secondary and made the Vikings pay, going 7-for-9 for 90 yards and the game-winning touchdown pass to Dwayne Harris.
The Vikings left the door open for the Cowboys after Jefferson's interception gave them the ball on the Dallas 41 with 4:29 left and a chance to run some time off the clock. Instead, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave called a first-down pass, which was incomplete, a second-down run and a pass play on third down, with Ponder electing to run for four yards and punt the ball back to Dallas.
The Vikings have a short week, as they host Washington on Thursday, and head coach Leslie Frazier will have to do some work to quiet the dissension building on the team. The players have had enough losing, as have the fans. Once management reaches that point, changes will finally be made.
Allen Moody is an author and sports bettor living in Nevada. A newspaper sports reporter for 12 years, he has been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings since the 1970s.
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