Cowboys score in final minute to upend Vikings
By Art Garcia, Reuters
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 35 seconds remaining. NFC East-leading Dallas (5-4) bou-nced back from a devastating loss at Detroit — and spa-red 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.”
Tight end Jason Witten was Romo’s first option on that final play, with Dez Bryant his second look. The ball, though, went to Harris on a slant over the middle.
“It wasn’t a mental breakdown in that situation,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “We just didn’t make a play. We need to find a way to get in position when we needed to. They made plays.”
Romo opened the third quarter looking to throw. After a series of short throws, Romo found Witten in the middle of the field for a 26-yard touchdown to put Dallas on top 13-10.
Minnesota dug itself a hole on the ensuing kickoff. Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson muffed the ball out of bounds at the 4. Ponder tried to throw out of his own end zone on first down, but the ball was stripped by defensive end George Selvie and recovered for a Dallas touchdown by tackle Nick Hayden.
Minnesota didn’t cave. Ponder calmly engineered a 77-yard drive that ended with his 31-yard scoring toss to Kyle Rudolph. The Vikings went into the fourth down 20-17.
Peterson went to work in the fourth. His 52-yard run on the go-ahead drive set Minnesota up on the Dallas 20-yard line. Four plays later on fourth-and-inches at the 11, Peterson carried four defenders over the goal line.
The Vikings went into halftime up 10-6 thanks to Ponder’s 6-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter. Minnesota’s conservative approach of short passes and steady dose of Peterson controlled the clock and kept Dallas off the field.
The Cowboys got a couple of big runs from DeMarco Murray on their opening drive to set up a field goal. Dallas reached the Minnesota 12 in the second quarter, but settled on another Dan Bailey field goal after two sacks on Romo.
The Vikings got three points on the board on their second possession, as Ponder found success throwing the ball outside.
Minnesota was in position to add another field goal early in the second quarter, but opted to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Dallas 16. Peterson was stuffed short of the first down by linebacker Sean Lee.
Ponder gave Minnesota the lead with a quarterback draw to cap a 79-yard drive with 1:47 left in the first half.
NOTES: The Cowboys placed veteran RG Brian Waters on the season-ending injured list with various injuries. ... Minnesota inactives were CB Chris Cook, S Jamarca Sanford, DT Fred Evans, G Jeff Baca, RB Matt Asiata, QB Josh Freeman and TE Rhett Ellison. ... Dallas inactives were DE DeMarcus Ware, WR Miles Austin, CB Morris Claiborne, S J.J. Wilcox, LB DeVonte Holloman, T Darrion Weems and TE Andre Smith. ... The Vikings won seven of the last nine meetings against Dallas, including two playoff wins.