Cowboys-Vikings: What we learned

Art Garcia, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tony Romo tossed a short touchdown pass in the final minute and the Dallas Cowboys upended the Minnesota Vikings 27-23 Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium.
Romo passed for 337 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning 7-yard score to Dwayne Harris with 42 seconds remaining. NFC East-leading Dallas (5-4) bounced back from a devastating loss at Detroit -- and spared Romo criticism after another late-game interception -- and will carry some momentum into New Orleans next week.
"It's always better going wherever you're going with a win," Romo said. "Feels good. The team did a good job hanging in there.
"I thought we hurt ourselves with penalties today and some dropped balls and things we don't normally do. And we still kept battling and kept the belief that you've got to find a way to win, and we did."
The Vikings (1-7) held a surprising lead going into the third quarter. The Cowboys scored two touchdowns in the span of seven seconds to turn a four-point deficit into a 20-10 lead.
But the Vikings went up 23-20 on Adrian Peterson's touchdown run with 5:40 left in the fourth. Peterson ran for 140 yards, and Christian Ponder passed for 236 yards and accounted for two scores in a game of wild momentum swings in the second half. Kicker Blair Walsh missed the extra point to keep Minnesota's lead at three.
The Vikings didn't capitalize on Romo's interception with 4:24 remaining in the game, opting not to allow Walsh to try a 54-yard field goal and instead punting the ball back to the Cowboys.
"We need to continue to work on taking advantage of opportunities that are presented to us," Peterson said. "We've got to make a play. Those are the ways that you come in on the road and win. We weren't able to do that offensively today."
Dallas went on the game-winning march from there, going 90 yards in 10 plays. Romo carved up the Minnesota secondary with ease.
"Tony was fantastic recognizing what they were trying to accomplish," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. "He got the ball out of his hands and everybody around him made positive plays. He made a heck of a play for the touchdown at the end.
"It was a great drive and as important a drive as we've had all year long."

What the Cowboys said
"With what's happened to us in losing these close games, a lot of them could have gotten faint-hearted and not giving the effort that we did at the end. I'm proud of them, proud of our staff, really proud of Jason Garrett." -- Owner/GM Jerry Jones.

What the Vikings said
"It's a terrible feeling, but we've got eight more. That's something to look forward to." -- RB Adrian Peterson on falling to 1-7.

What we learned about the Cowboys:
1. Tony Romo didn't let a fourth-quarter interception bother him going into the Cowboys' game-winning drive. He calmly guided the team 90 yards for the go-ahead score. "I didn't have any doubts," Romo said.
2. The Cowboys can make a stop with the game on the line. Dallas couldn't the week prior at Detroit, but the defense held on Minnesota's final drive. "In our minds we had to get a stop," defensive end George Selvie said. "The whole defense, everybody, was on the same page. We had to get a stop and that's what we did."

What we learned about the Vikings:
1. Minnesota keeps finding new ways to lose. The Vikings missed an extra point, and passed up a short field goal try in the second quarter and a long one in the fourth. That helped open the door for Dallas.
2. It looks like Adrian Peterson won't guide the Vikings back to the playoffs, but his personal goals are still in play. The league's reigning rushing champ racked up 140 yards, tying his best effort of the season. "Those things are secondary," he said of personal stats, "especially being 1-7."

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