CALLAHANDOFF QUESTION: Why does the Dallas Cowboys stop trying to run before you can even establish a run game?
Why do the Dallas Cowboys abandon the run? DeMarco Murray looks healthy, and he got 4 carries in the game. They stopped trying to run before they could even establish a run game.
Nick: Did they abandon the run or could they simply not run the ball and so they scrapped it? I think it’s somewhere in the middle. This team hasn’t been able to run it effectively for about two years. I think Brian Waters’ injury was bigger than we thought it’d be. All of a sudden Doug Free looked bad? I think Waters has helped him just by being in the lineup. But yes, there are times the Cowboys don’t run it enough. I think this was one of these games.
Rowan: I was all for spreading it out and tossing the ball around, but I’ll admit nine runs in a game that was this tight throughout is kind of shocking. More than that, the backs never really had a chance to get going as they took a whole lot of delayed runs in shotgun and were met in the backfield. The backs actually had some success with four runs for 25 yards in the first quarter. Then, we never really saw them again.
David: I don’t mind that the Cowboys don’t commit to the run in a strict sense. But I do mind that they talk often about balance and controlling the game, and then they throw 51 times compared to nine total runs. Either accept that you can’t or don’t want to run, or actually make the effort to run. Murray was averaging eight yards per carry, but he disappeared.
ARLINGTON, Texas – Dallas Cowboys beatwriters share their initial feelings following the Dallas Cowboys 27-23 win over the Vikings.
The coaches and the players on this team are never going to minimize their own success – regardless of record, they got a win against an NFL team. I don’t have the same obligation, however, so it’s fine for me to look into the future and say Dallas absolutely could not have afforded to lose this game. It might have been a season-sinker. With the NFC South leader, two tough NFC North teams and three divisional rivalries still to play, the Cowboys would have been up the creek with no paddle had they lost to this less-than-stellar Vikings team. It wasn’t pretty, and it doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, but now the Cowboys are at least guaranteed to be .500 or better when they get to their much-needed bye week.
Not exactly the easy win anyone predicted. As mediocre as this team’s been, it was still somewhat stunning to see the Cowboys trailing by three points with a minute left. The entire soap opera had played out, with Dez Bryant drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Adrian Peterson wearing down the defense and Tony Romo throwing a late pick, but Romo silenced many with his game-winning, 90-yard drive. I thought the offense should have opened it up, but I didn’t expect them to run just nine times in such a close game. I predicted a big day and a score for Jason Witten, who went for more than 100 yards and a touchdown, but I didn’t predict Terrance Williams’ streak ending. The Cowboys offense continued its inconsistency before finally showing up late. If they wait that long to get going next week against a Saints team coming off a loss, it’ll be too late.
Man, I was doing well with my first two and then tanked. Jason Witten did a have a big game and Terrance Williams didn’t score, but yikes, this was far from a blowout win. And out-rushing the Vikings? That was a horrible prediction. I had this feeling the Cowboys would take an early lead and get to run the ball while the Vikings were forced to pass. Nope. And Brandon Carr didn’t have a pick, but Orlando Scandrick got a big interception. He certainly played a great game, one of the best I can remember from him. Overall, no one really played great for the Cowboys. They had some guys step up, especially at the end. But this team looked like it was sleepwalking for too long. However, the Cowboys had a beautiful loss to Denver and no one cared. So they’ll take whatever this kind of win was against the Vikings.
Jason Garrett likes to talk about players learning from experience. Today was that type of day for Tyron Smith against Jared Allen. I said earlier, that Smith was drafted by the Cowboys to block rushers like Jared Allen. When you face a player like Allen, you have to be ready for all his moves. This guy is not a one trick pony and I felt like that there were times where Allen put him on the edge, but Smith was able to hang in there and make things work. In the 2nd half, I thought Smith was at his best and when the Vikings really needed a pressure, it wasn’t coming from Allen. The final numbers will say that Allen had one tackle with no sacks, so that tells you a lot about the day that Tyron Smith had.
Editors note: This article relates to the pregame predictions made by the Dallas Cowboys writers on Friday
2013-2014 GAMEDAY WRAP-UP: Video recap after 2013 Dallas Cowboys defeat of the Minnesota Vikings in Game 9
Pregame Quick Snap: Minnesota Vikings vs. Dallas Cowboys
First Take of the 2013-2014 Cowboys vs. Vikings from AT&T Stadium
Minnesota Vikings vs. Dallas Cowboys Highlights
Jason Garrett Postgame Press Conference
Tony Romo Postgame Press Conference
This was supposed to be an easy one. The 4-4 Cowboys against the lowly 1-6 Vikings? At home? Favorites across the board? Bring on the Saints.
In a game that wasn’t always pretty – face it, downright ugly – the Cowboys sent 85,360 fans home perhaps more relieved than happy with a 27-23 triumph over the Vikings. The Dallas Cowboys offense struggled to find any kind of consistency, but came up big when they needed to, as Tony Romo led the team on a game-winning drive, reaching the end zone with only 35 seconds left.
Despite the Cowboys running game totaling only 36 yards, the offense still finished the day with 350 total yards, thanks to Romo dinks and his 34-of-51 passing for 337 yards and two touchdowns. His main connection was tight end Jason Witten, who hauled in eight passes for 102 yards and a score, while Cole Beasley and Dez Bryant each caught six attempts for 68 and 64 yards, respectively.
Defensively, well, Adrian Peterson did what Adrian Peterson does, racking up 140 yards on 25 carries with another 37 yards on three catches. But overall, Dallas kept the Vikings aerial attack in check, quarterback Christian Ponder completing 25-of-37 passes for just 236 yards.
The first quarter was largely uneventful, as the two teams traded field goals, Dan Bailey kicking a 41-yarder for Dallas and Blair Walsh splitting the uprights from 23 yards to even the score 3-3.
Still, Dallas seemed to be building a little momentum in the second frame. Things got going with Minnesota on the move, the Vikings set up with great field position on the Cowboys’ 37-yard line after a 26-yard punt return by Marcus Sherels. But the visitors elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the Dallas 16-yard line, only to have Peterson stuffed for no gain.
The Cowboys then marched right back down the field on a 12-play, 58-yard drive that ate up 6:56 of the clock, the series eventually resulting in a 44-yard field goal by Bailey and a 6-3 lead.
But that momentum was temporarily lost before the half could end. Starting at their own 21-yard line, the Vikings mixed in a dose of runs and passes before Ponder scrambled in from the 6-yard line to give Minnesota the advantage at the break, 10-6.
Temporarily, however, was the key word. When the second half got underway the Cowboys immediately grabbed back said momentum in a big way. Taking first possession of the third quarter, Romo threw passes to Beasley for 11 yards, a short one to Terrance Williams for 4 and then back-to-back 26-yard strikes to Witten, the latter seeing the tight end rumble into the end zone of the score to take the lead, 13-10.
That was then followed on the ensuing kickoff by Vikings return man Cordarrelle Patterson muffing the ball out of bounds at the Minnesota 5-yard line. On the very next snap, Ponder dropped back to pass and was stripped of the ball by defensive end George Selvie with teammate Nick Hayden then pouncing on the fumble for the score. Dallas suddenly had a 20-10 lead less than four minutes into the second half.
But things never seem easy for the Cowboys. After seemingly having things well in hand, the defense couldn’t keep the Vikings from coming right back with a 77-yard drive of their own. This time Minnesota did their damage in the air, as Ponder completed passes of 27 and 12 yards during the series before finding tight end Kyle Rudolph down the right seam for a 31-yard touchdown, narrowing the score to 20-17.
The Cowboys had their chances to expand the lead, first when the team drove into enemy territory, reaching the Minnesota 34-yard line. But on third-and-15, Bryant was called for offensive pass interference. What made matters worse, though, was he pulled off his helmet to argue the call, an automatic unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. With the loss of 15 yards, any hopes for a lengthy field goal by Bailey were quashed.
Then, as the clock ticked over into the fourth quarter, the Dallas defense produced its second turnover of the game when Orlando Scandrick intercepted a deep attempt by Ponder down the left sideline. But set up at their own 47-yard line, Dallas managed to reach the Vikings 38 before another offensive pass interference call, this time on Witten, pushed them back to the 46. Once again, they were forced to punt.
This time, the Vikings’ workhorse took momentum into his own hands. Peterson first broke loose on a 52-yard scramble down the right sideline, then after Minnesota moved down to the Dallas 11, the future Hall of Fame running back kept churning, carrying a whole pack of Cowboys defenders – who seemed more intent on stripping the ball, than actually getting the man on the ground – into the end zone. Walsh somehow missed the extra point, but Minnesota had the lead, 23-20 with just over five minutes left in the game.
The Vikings then had a chance to salt the game away themselves when cornerback A.J. Jefferson stepped in front of a pass intended for Williams and tiptoed the sidelines for an interception at the Dallas 41. Thankfully, the Cowboys defense stood strong forcing a three-and-out, the offense taking over at its own 10-yard line after the punt with 2:44 remaining on the clock.
That was plenty of time for Romo, who hit Witten for 11 yards, Dwayne Harris for 6, and Beasley for 18. Then on second-and-10 at the Dallas 45, the quarterback found Bryant streaking across the middle, the wideout turning upfield for a big 34-yard gain to the Minnesota 21.
Three plays later, Romo stepped up in the pocket and darted one into Harris who lunged across the goal line for the game-winning score, 27-23.
With the victory, the Cowboys pushed their record back above .500 for the season, and assured their NFC East counterparts could gain no ground in the division race. They’ll now travel to New Orleans to face Drew Brees and the Saints in primetime next Sunday night.
Dallas Cowboys Postgame Show
Dallas Cowboys Radio Network
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2013 COWBOYS GAME 9 RECAP: Dallas Cowboys offense does just enough to avoid embarrassing loss against Minnesota Vikings
IRVING — The Dallas Cowboys did what they needed to do today, they beat a bad team.
The Cowboys weren’t very impressive but they got the job done, improving to 5-4 with a 27-23 victory at AT&T Stadium.
Here are five thoughts on today’s game.
1.) Not many folks probably left the stadium feeling like they got their money’s worth. The Cowboys played to the level of the one-win Minnesota Vikings and barely pulled it out. Every week it becomes more apparent that this is nothing better than a .500 team. Enjoy the victory. But expect nothing more than a “win one- lose one” product the rest of the way.
2.) Dez Bryant was showing his passion again. This time it cost the Cowboys 15 yards. Bryant was called for offensive pass interference in the third quarter and then took off his helmet to argue with an official. Bryant was booed after dropping his second pass of the game a few minutes after he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. He’s the team’s best playmaker, so you have to take the good with the bad. Bryant made a key play later in the game.
3.) So that’s why the Detroit Lions doubled Jason Witten so often last Sunday. The Pro Bowl tight end was the Cowboys’ best player against the Vikings. Witten caught eight passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. He dropped a pass early but Witten remained Romo’s favorite target. When he didn’t get the ball, Witten was still making an impact by attracting double teams, which is exactly what led to Dwayne Harris’ game-winning score. The 31-year-old won’t wow you with his athleticism but he’s still as consistent as they come.
4.) Dallas rushed nine times for 36 yards.
5.) The defensive meetings this week will be about missed tackles. Jeff Heath, Barry Church and Ernie Sims all were abused multiple times. The offensive meetings will emphasis dropped passes. Dallas receivers dropped eight, which included Witten, Bryant and Terrance Williams.
ARLINGTON, Texas — A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys’ 27-23 win against the Minnesota Vikings:
What it means for the Cowboys: They didn’t make it look 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. They also continued a trend of beating teams .500 or worse under Jason Garrett. The Cowboys are now 17-1 since 2011 against the bad teams.
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.
Stock watch: After an ugly :58 minutes, and with the game 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 renewed emphasis 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 Dallas Cowboys had just nine carries for the game.
Seeing stars: Last week the Dallas 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 Dallas 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 last 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.
Following a crushing defeat to Detroit, the Cowboys return home to face Minnesota on Sunday. The Vikings are bad. They are 1-6, having been victimized by poor quarterback play and a porous pass defense. Not even Adrian Peterson, the league’s best running back, has been able to put a charge in the listless Vikings. As a result, Vegas has the 4-4 Cowboys as 10 ½-point favorites in this game. Dallas can’t afford to lose this with a game against New Orleans looming. Here is a look at how the Cowboys and Vikings match up:
When the Cowboys run
DeMarco Murray appears ready to return to action. He’s listed as probable. But at this point it’s hard to invest any faith in the Cowboys’ running game. Dallas produced only 62 rushing yards last week in a loss to Detroit, a team that was surrendering the highest average yards per carry before Week 7. The Cowboys feature the sixth-worst ground attack in the NFL and the loss of guard Brian Waters won’t help their effort to improve.
When the Cowboys pass
Since throwing for 506 yards against Denver, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has played average football. In the last three games, he has completed just 56.1 percent of his attempts and posted a 79.7 passer rating. The Cowboys need better production out of Romo and they could get it this week against a Minnesota defense giving up an average of 287.9 yards per game through the air.
When the Vikings run
The Vikings have Adrian Peterson, one of the best runners the NFL has ever seen. But the Vikings’ ground attack is producing 103.3 yards per game, the 18th-highest average in the league. Early deficits and the absence of a legitimate passing game have conspired against Peterson, who is still the fifth-leading rusher in the NFL. This will be a tough test for the Cowboys after Detroit averaged 4.9 yards per carry against Dallas last Sunday.
When the Vikings pass
No team this season has given up more yards through the air than the Cowboys. But they should be able to limit Minnesota’s unimpressive passing offense. Christian Ponder, who will start Sunday, has been unimpressive, throwing two touchdown passes and five interceptions this season. While the Vikings feature a playmaking receiver, Greg Jennings, they don’t pose the type of threat that Denver, Detroit, San Diego and the New York Giants do. All of those teams roasted the Cowboys. It’s not expected Minnesota will do the same.
The battle that could develop between Dwayne Harris and Cordarrelle Patterson could be an interesting one. Patterson, a rookie, has become one of the most dynamic specialists in the game. This season, he’s scored twice on kick returns, including one of 109 yards that resulted in a touchdown last week against Green Bay. Harris, meanwhile, is second in the league in kick return average, just behind Patterson. But unlike Patterson he’s one of the NFL’s best punt returners, too.
The Cowboys suffered a crushing defeat last Sunday and it’s uncertain if the team has gotten over it. Now they face the Vikings, who have won seven of the last eight games they’ve played against Dallas. While Minnesota is 1-6 this season, the Vikings still have Adrian Peterson, the Texas native who should be motivated in his return to his home state. He could do damage to a Dallas team still smarting from its loss to Detroit.
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When: Sunday, November 3rd, 2013 at high noon (Dallas time)
Where: AT&T Stadium | Arlington, TX
Watch on TV: Local FOX affiliate | DirecTV
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INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings | DeMarco Murray back in lineup
ARLINGTON – DeMarco Murray will be active today against the Vikings after missing each of the Dallas Cowboys’ previous two games with a sprained knee.
DeMarcus Ware, on the other hand, highlights the inactives list, which also includes wide receiver Miles Austin, cornerback Morris Claiborne, safety J.J. Wilcox, linebacker DeVonte Holloman, tackle Darrion Weems and tight end Andre Smith.
Wilcox (knee), Holloman (neck) and Claiborne (hamstring) were all ruled out after Friday’s practice. Ware (thigh) and Austin (hamstring) were both listed as doubtful. Along with Murray, Ware’s also missed each of the last two weeks after getting injured against the Redskins, and he’ll now miss his third straight game.
Austin has been given rest and sat out last week after trying to give his sore hamstring a try against the Eagles on Oct. 20.
All the Cowboys players who were probable entering the weekend will be active, including Jason Hatcher (neck), George Selvie (shoulder) and Barry Church (hamstring).
Guard Brian Waters was also ruled out after Friday’s practice with a triceps injury, which has since moved him to injured reserve. Defensive back Micah Pellerin took Waters’ spot on the 53-man roster and will be active.