Tag Archives: Minnesota Vikings

EDGE OF YOUR SEAT WIN: Dallas Cowboys come back to beat Vikings, 27-23

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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.

Whew.

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.

LISTEN LIVE–RIGHT NOW: Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings postgame show

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NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings

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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.

Edge: Vikings

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.

Edge: Cowboys

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.

Edge: Vikings

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.

Edge: Cowboys

Special teams

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.

Edge: Cowboys

Intangibles

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.

Edge: Vikings

 


GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Trackers and Scoreboards

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GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Sounds of the game

Listen to the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham on KRLD in Dallas.

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GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Watch the game

To watch on network TV, tune to:

KDFW-TV/FOX 4 Dallas | KMSP-TV/FOX 9 Minneapolis

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Out of market? Click HERE to watch online (NFL Sunday Ticket)

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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GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys pregame/postgame shows

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WORLDWIDE EXCLUSIVE: The Great Robbini’s predictions for Game #9 | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings

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Regular readers know that The Boys Are Back website features the ALMOST WORLD FAMOUS predictions from The GREAT Robbini. Last week, our “exalted one” predicted a big win … and was almost correct!

This week, The GREAT Robbini expects a heavy dose of Marinelli Misfits setting the pace defensively and Tony Romo to repeatedly fire that cannon through the Vikings hull!

Recently, the GREAT ONE was distracted by a house full of little women hopped up on Halloween candy. Finally, the dust (and wrappers) has settled, and the GREAT Robbini is the only one left in the house wearing a costume. Tonight, he was able to sit down and put a seriously powerful rub on his magic ball. I’m told it was so vigorous, that his ball actually emitted purple.

Clearly, he’s psyched about the Dallas Cowboys – Minnesota Vikings vibe… and ready to share his prognostications that we all count on from week-to-week. Without further delay, it’s time for The GREAT Robbini’s predictions …

The GREAT Robbini’s – 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys game #9 predictions:

Above .500 yet again

The Dallas Cowboys offense continue with the overall improved play of last week, as far as points on the board. The nagging issue was capitalizing on their chances given by the defense. This will improve somewhat against a hungry, but overwhelmed Vikings defense. Mark this one in the W column, and take it for what it is. Wins may not be so easy to come by in this months slate of games.

Predictions for the Texas 2 Defense …

  • 3 takeaways
  • 4 sacks
  • 1 sack Jason Hatcher
  • 1 sack Jarius Wynn
  • 2 sacks George Selvie
  • Sean Lee/Bruce Carter lead tackles
  • Jason Hatcher fumble recovery
  • Brandon Carr secures a takeaway
  • Dallas Cowboys injure Vikings player
  • Adrian Peterson out at least one drive

COWBOYS VS. VIKINGS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson still after Emmitt Smith’s NFL record

 

Predictions for the offense …

  • Tony Romo 330 yards, 4 TDs
  • Dez Bryant 100 yards, TD
  • Jason Witten 65 yards, TD
  • Terrance Williams 110 yards, TD
  • Cole Beasley 45 yards
  • DeMarco Murray TD
  • Rushing committee 110 yards
  • Cowboys receive second half kick

The GREAT Robbini

Remember, you read it here! The Great Robbini predictions for game #9. Leave your final score or predictions in the comment section.


Stats and predictions to be confirmed by:

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LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE: 2013 Dallas Cowboys schedule includes Denver, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Green Bay

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The Cowboys’ loss put them in third place in the NFC East, leaving them to play play third-place teams St. Louis (at home) and New Orleans (on the road) next season.

The rest of the Cowboys’ home schedule next season includes the Giants, Redskins and Eagles from the NFC East, plus Green Bay, Minnesota, Denver and Oakland.

The remaining road games for the Cowboys next year are at the Giants, Redskins, Eagles, plus Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City and San Diego.

When the NFL announces the dates, they will posted HERE (or click on the page titled NFL Schedules).

TWELVE SEEDS SET: Road to Super Bowl XLVII

NFL 2012-2013 Playoffs - The Boys Are Back blog

After 17 grueling weeks, the playoffs are finally here. The seeds are set and the field is stacked.

A quick look at the 12 teams that survived to play another game. Here’s a case for and against each squad in the race to Super Bowl XLVII:

NFC
1) Atlanta Falcons (13-3)

How do they make a deep run? The Falcons continue to be an excellent home team. The running game provides just enough balance to complement a potent passing attack, and the defense routinely baffles elite quarterbacks, producing several turnovers.

How do they get eliminated? The Falcons struggle to rush the passer, and they become too one-dimensional on offense. In their three losses this season, they produced just two sacks and were out-rushed, 487-146. A team like the Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers could pose a huge problem.

2) San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)

How do they make a deep run? The defense dominates the line of scrimmage and Colin Kaepernick produces three or four big plays per game. Receiver Michael Crabtree continues to emerge as a top-shelf talent, and the running game benefits from the fresh legs of rookie LaMichael James.

How do they get eliminated? The49ers’ defense can be attacked; the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks provided a blueprint for doing so in Weeks 15 and 16. The 49ers’ offense, meanwhile, is capable of stalling for long stretches of time. The poor play of kicker David Akers could also end up costing San Francisco a game.

3) Green Bay Packers (11-5)

How do they make a deep run? Led by Aaron Rodgers, the Packers’ passing attack gets hot and puts up huge numbers, outscoring every opponent. A different receiver steps up every week and a healthy Clay Matthews closes out games with pressures and sacks.

How do they get eliminated? The offensive line can’t protect Rodgers and the running game fails to provide the necessary balance. The Minnesota Vikings match up very well against the Packers; they’re fully capable of quickly ending Green Bay’s postseason.

4) Washington Redskins (10-6)

How do they make a deep run? The Redskins’ unique offense controls the clock, shortens games and piles up just enough points. The defense covers up some soft spots by sending lots of pressure and creating key turnovers. Relishing their postseason opportunity, steady veterans DeAngelo Hall and London Fletcher produce game-changing plays.

How do they get eliminated? Robert Griffin III’s knee injury makes the offense more predictable, and a talented defensive opponent manages to take away Alfred Morris. The Redskins’ defense struggles to create a pass rush, and the safety play is exposed by a top-notch quarterback.

5) Seattle Seahawks (11-5)

How do they make a deep run? They carry their momentum right through the postseason. Russell Wilson continues to play clutch, mistake-free football, while Marshawn Lynch grinds out tough yards. The defense continues to create high numbers of turnovers and finds the end zone a few times, as well.

How do they get eliminated? An opponent stacks the box to take away Lynch, and the athletic Wilson is contained. The lack of a true No. 1 receiver ends up being an issue, and the offensive production takes a nosedive.

6) Minnesota Vikings (10-6)

How do they make a deep run? Adrian Peterson continues to carry the entire offense, and Christian Ponder protects the football. Jared Allen gets hot; his pressures create sacks and turnovers. Kicker Blair Walsh hits a long, game-winning field goal along the way.

How do they get eliminated? An opponent sells out to slow down Peterson, and Ponder is unable to make them pay for it. Peterson puts the ball on the ground, and Ponder struggles to play from behind. The defense allows a mobile quarterback to create plays with his legs.

AFC
1) Denver Broncos (13-3)

How do they make a deep run? Peyton Manning will have two weeks to prepare for his first opponent. The Broncos are the NFL’s most complete team, ranking in the top five in virtually every important statistic. This balance will make Denver very difficult to eliminate. The pass rush can take over a game, giving Manning’s offense a short field and allowing the Broncos to pile up points quickly.

How do they get eliminated? If the weather is horrible in Denver and the Broncos’ rushing attack is unable to get on track, they could struggle offensively. A matchup against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the snow would pose a very formidable challenge.

2) New England Patriots (12-4)

How do they make a deep run? Recently returned tight end Rob Gronkowski sparks an offensive explosion. Brady benefits from a solid ground attack, utilizing his tight ends to produce chunk plays down the field. The young secondary allows some big gains, but comes up with a few key turnovers.

How do they get eliminated? A physical Baltimore Ravens team pushes around New England’s offensive line, or the Pats simply run into a red-hot Denver team on the road and lose a shootout. I don’t see any of the other AFC teams giving New England much of a problem.

3) Houston Texans (12-4)

How do they make a deep run? They forget recent struggles and recapture their early-season form. Arian Foster shoulders the load on offense, and the defensive line creates numerous sacks and turnovers. The secondary avoids giving up the big play.

How do they get eliminated? Matt Schaub fails to make enough plays to outscore either the Patriots or the Broncos. Facing constant double-teams, J.J. Watt is unable to dominate the game.

4) Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

How do they make a deep run? A well-rested Ray Rice carries the ball more than he has during the regular season, and the Ravens physically pound their opponents. Tight end Dennis Pitta and receiver Torrey Smith produce big plays in the passing game. The defense is sparked by the return of Ray Lewis. Paul Kruger plays the role of unsung hero, making several impact plays.

How do they get eliminated? The offense features too much Joe Flacco and not enough Rice. Baltimore allows too many sacks; opponents manage to strip the ball from Flacco in the pocket, creating turnovers. The defense struggles to contain the run.

5) Indianapolis Colts (11-5)

How do they make a deep run? Andrew Luck continues to excel on third down, and the veteran pass-rushing duo of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis steps up to make several impact plays. Cornerback Vontae Davis keeps playing at an elite level, picking off a few balls.

How do they get eliminated? The offensive line is overwhelmed and Luck doesn’t get any time to throw the football. The defensive front is pushed around, giving up too many rushing yards to a back like the Ravens’ Rice or the Patriots’ Stevan Ridley.

6) Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)

How do they make a deep run? Receiver A.J. Green gets hot, producing several big plays through the air, and the pass rush dominates on the other side of the ball. Geno Atkins finally gets credit for his outstanding play after collecting several sacks and tackles for a loss.

How do they get eliminated? The running game is unable to provide balance, and Andy Dalton turns the ball over too much. The defense is on the field too often, and the unit runs out of gas late.

THE FLEX FACTOR: How signing S Eric Frampton helps the Dallas Cowboys

Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester (23) is tackled by safety Eric Frampton - The Boys Are Back blog

Before the Dallas Cowboys defeated Tampa Bay 16-10 last Sunday, the ranks were thinning at safety. Starter Gerald Sensabaugh had been listed as inactive for the game, prompting the Cowboys to partially use cornerback Brandon Carr to fill his spot.

Yet just as the Cowboys patched one hole, another opened when Barry Church tore his right Achilles tendon.

With Sensabaugh’s status unclear for the Cowboys’ next game against Chicago and Church placed on the injured reserve list, management began seeking reinforcements at the position. And after working out five veteran defensive backs today, the Cowboys signed Eric Frampton to fill Church’s roster spot.

“Obviously, you would like a guy who is game-ready to play and knows our system that can play quickly and contribute quickly,” head coach Jason Garrett said Monday before any move was made. “But you’d also like a guy who is young and who can contribute on specials teams when the starter comes back.”

Frampton, who was cut by Minnesota last month, seemed to meet Garrett’s criteria, particularly because of his sterling performance on special teams. Over the previous five seasons he led Minnesota’s coverage units with 85 tackles.

Eric Frampton #37 of the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field - The Boys Are Back blog

Frampton could conceivably assume the responsibilities of safety Danny McCray, the Cowboys’ special teams captain who has taken on more defensive duties in wake of the injuries to Sensabaugh and Church.

At the very least, Frampton gives the Cowboys more options as they try to manage the situation at safety.

So far, the Cowboys have already shown some flexibility by positioning Carr there.

FORBES MAGAZINE: Dallas Cowboys tops NFL list, first to be valued at over $2 billion

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The Dallas Cowboys are the NFL’s first and only $2 billion franchise, Forbes Magazine announced today as it released its annual team value list.

Michael Ozanian, Forbes’ executive editor, said the Cowboys’ value, which the magazine tabs at $2.1 billion, is "a conservative estimate."

Ozanian said the magazine took into account the Cowboys’ $80 million in sponsorship income, their state-of-the art stadium and the fact that they are the only team in the NFL that distributes its own merchandise to retailers.

Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys for $140 million in 1989 - The Boys Are Back blog

Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989 for $140 million. That’s roughly a 715 percent increase to today’s value, factoring in inflation.

While the Cowboys stood atop the list for the sixth consecutive year, the New England Patriots (worth $1.63 billion) passed the Washington Redskins ($1.6 billion) for the second spot.

The New York Giants, valued at $1.46 billion, landed in fourth while the Houston Texas rounded out the top five at $1.3 billion.

Despite playing in the same stadium, the magazine estimated the net worth of the New York Jets at about $200 million less than the Giants.

"We have the Giants bringing in $27 million more in revenue, plus they’re getting the Super Bowl bump on ticket prices," Ozanian said.

Despite the threat of concussion litigation that could eventually cost the NFL billions of dollars, the magazine doesn’t have a single franchise losing value from last season.

"There wasn’t any loss of value reflected in the recent Cleveland Browns sale," Ozanian said. "The investment bankers we spoke to told us that prices haven’t dropped in terms of what people are offering for small or large shares of teams."

Forbes stated that 20 NFL teams are worth more than $1 billion, the most of any league. That number is up from 15 teams last year.

The Cincinnati Bengals, worth $871 million compared to $875 million last season, are the only team that lost value.

Forbes projects only two teams had operating losses last year — the Pittsburgh Steelers ($1.1 billion), due to a higher payroll, and the Oakland Raiders ($785 million), thanks to having the lowest revenues in the league.

The magazine concluded that the two teams that had the biggest jump in value were the Minnesota Vikings ($975 million) and the San Francisco 49ers ($1.17 billion), whose values jumped 22 and 19 percent, respectively, as a result of their new stadiums being built.

The Cowboys’ $2.1 billion value matches that of the Los Angeles Dodgers purchase by Guggenheim Partners. Forbes says only Manchester United is worth more. The magazine said the soccer team was worth $2.23 billion, but the team’s recent offering on the New York Stock Exchanged valued it at $2.9 billion.

RIVAL: Detroit Lions face daunting task establishing the run against Dallas Cowboys’ front seven

jahvid-best.jpg

AP Photo Detroit running back Jahvid Best didn't see a lot of running room against the Vikings, and can't expect to see much more in Dallas when they battle the Cowboys.

ALLEN PARK — The Detroit Lions are 3-0, but there are still plenty areas for improvement. While the team is racking up the points, averaging 33.7 per game, and torching opposing secondaries to the tune of 322 yards per contest, the Lions have struggled to establish the run.

Heading into a Week 4 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, the Lions’ run game ranks 26th in the NFL, gaining just 78.3 yards on the ground per game.

It’s not from a lack of effort. The Lions are seventh in the league in attempts, pounding the rock 28 times each Sunday.

For those of you not carrying a calculator, that comes out to a paltry 2.8 yards per carry, ranking them 30th in the NFL ahead of only the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans. (Sympathetic shout out to anyone who drafted Chris Johnson and Frank Gore in your fantasy leagues.)

Well, don’t expect a trip to Dallas this Sunday to be the cure for the Lions’ woes. The Cowboys have been elite at stopping the run, holding their first three opponents to averages of 61.3 yards per game and 3.0 yards per carry.

Ouch.

“It’s not just their talent, it’s the scheme also,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “Their scheme is designed to make a team one-dimensional and take the run away and be able to get after the passer after it’s one-dimensional.

Detroit’s lead back, Jahvid Best, who is one of the league leaders in yards from scrimmage because of his impact in Detroit’s passing attack, has seen his rushing numbers drop each week. Against the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday, Best was limited to just 14 yards on 12 carries. He knows he’s facing a similar challenge this Sunday.

“Their defense, their mind frame, is to shut down the run,” Best said. “When they get up there, those guys are really good at reading run first. We just have to take what they give us. If they come out and drop a bunch of guys, we should run. If they get up there and load the box up trying to stop the run, we should throw the ball on them all day.”

DeMarcus Ware, who leads the NFL in sacks, gets most of the press on the Dallas defense, but it’s a collective effort from their front seven keys their effectiveness.

“Their front seven, their linebackers, their interior player (Jay) Ratliff, this is a great defense, not a good defense,” Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “That’s a tough matchup for any offensive line. It’s not like you can concentrate on one side, or one interior player. You’re talking about having those speed guys on the outside and a guy like Ratliff does in the middle, it’s a tough duty.”

One of those linebackers, Sean Lee, was the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September. In his second year out of Penn State, Lee racked up 31 tackles, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions in Dallas’ first three games.

“He’s got great range – a very productive tackler,” Schwartz said. “He’s always around the ball, and that shows in his interception totals. He’s young. He’s added a dimension for them because he brings them so much speed at the linebacker position.”

Offensive center Dominic Raiola echoed Best’s sentiments when asked what the Lions need to do to crack the Cowboys’ run defense. But if the Lions strategy is to just take what Dallas gives them, be prepared to see Matthew Stafford throwing the ball early and often.

Courtesy: Justin Rogers | MLive.com

LOOKING BACK: The reshaping of America’s Team

2/25/1989 – New owner fires Tom Landry

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In his first day as the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, billionaire oilman Jerry  Jones announced that he had fired head coach Tom Landry. University of Miami  coach Jimmy Johnson, who played with Jones at Arkansas, was announced as his replacement.

The sacking of a legend like Landry was giant news throughout the state of Texas. He had been the Cowboys’ coach for 29 years, their only coach in franchise history. With him at the helm, the Cowboys won two Super Bowls, 13 division championships, and posted a winning record in twenty consecutive seasons. Landry, with his trademark fedora and suit, was a driving force behind Texas’ fanaticism with professional football.

As the 80’s dragged on, Landry’s position with the team seemed to be in doubt. After making the postseason in 1985, the Cowboys posted three consecutive losing seasons, including a 3-13 disaster in 1988. Some wondered if Landry was losing his touch. With the team’s owner, H.R. (Bum) Bright, set to sell the team, the Landry era appeared to be at an end.

”I’ll step down when I feel like I’m ready, when I can’t do the job I want to do,” Landry said in November 1988. ”It could be any time, or it could be a while.”

Less than two weeks before Bright sold the team, Landry fired the team’s defensive and pass coordinators and showed no signs of relenting control. “I have no intention of retiring unless it is forced upon me,” he said.

Star-divide

Jerry Jones then bought the Dallas Cowboys for $140 million, the first time a sports team surpassed the $100 million plateau. He told Landry face-to-face that he had been replaced, but by immediately announcing Johnson as the coach within minutes of his opening press conference, Jones drew the ire of many die-hard Cowboys fans. Jones later admitted that Landry’s departure could have been done more gracefully.

“I’ve never been one to get that upset, because I accept people as they are,” said Landry, who gave a tearful goodbye to the Dallas players a few days later. ”Sure, the firing could have been handled better, but I won’t get upset over it. I wouldn’t think I would coach again, because it would just be hard, not being in the Cowboys’ blue.”

It didn’t take long for Jones to establish himself as a hands-on owner. He quickly fired general manager Tex Schramm, drafted UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman with the No. 1 pick, and traded star running back Herschel Walker to the Vikings for five players and six draft picks. Aikman was horrendous in his rookie season, losing all eleven games he started while throwing twice as many
interceptions as touchdowns. The Cowboys finished 1-15 in 1989, a new low for “America’s Team.”

Following Dallas’ one-win season, Jerry Jones was absolutely despised by Cowboys fans. It was bad enough that an Arkansan had bought the team and replaced Tom Landry with Jimmy Johnson, but now Jones appeared to be driving the team into oblivion. Herschel Walker was considered one of the greatest college running backs of all time; simply giving up on him was not a popular decision in Big D.

As time passed, Jones’ moves gradually became acceptable as the team started to win. Dallas went 7-9 in 1990, 11-5 in ’91, and 13-3 in 1992. Troy Aikman went from being a linebacker’s punching bag to a six-time Pro Bowler and a first-ballot Hall of Famer. While Walker was productive with the Vikings and later with the Eagles, he failed to live up to his massive expectations. Two of the draft picks Dallas got from the Walker trade turned out to be Darren Woodson, who became a five-time Pro Bowl safety, and Emmitt Smith, who utterly surpassed Walker by becoming the NFL’s all-time leading rusher and setting the single-season touchdown record.

At Super Bowl XXVII, the Cowboys destroyed the Buffalo Bills 52-17 (only four years after Jones took over). The Cowboys went on to win three Super Bowls in four years and reestablished themselves as the face of the NFL. Jerry Jones, whose decisions created one of the greatest NFL teams of all time, was completely vindicated in his firing of Tom Landry. At the same time, the trade that brought in Emmitt Smith and Darren Woodson, once thought to be a horrendous decision by Jones, is now considered one of the most lopsided trades ever — in favor of the Cowboys.

RECAP: Dallas at Minnesota Boxscore (from MIN)

NFL Boxscore – Dallas at Minnesota

Team

1

2

3

4

Score

Dallas

3

14

3

3

23

Minnesota

7

3

7

0

17

Scoring Summary

1st Quarter

Minnesota Touchdown – 49-yard pass from Donovan McNabb to
Bernard Berrian. (Ryan Longwell kick). 7:58 remaining.
Dallas Field Goal – 37-yarder by Dan Bailey. 2:52 remaining.

2nd Quarter

Dallas Touchdown – 20-yard blocked field goal return by Alan
Ball. (Shayne Graham kick). 14:36 remaining.
Dallas Touchdown – 5-yard run by Felix Jones.
(Dan Bailey kick). 6:53 remaining.
Minnesota Field Goal – 44-yarder by Ryan Longwell.
3:43 remaining.

3rd Quarter

Dallas Field Goal – 38-yarder by Dan Bailey.
8:05 remaining.
Minnesota Touchdown – 10-yard run by Joe Webb.
(Ryan Longwell kick). 5:06 remaining.

4th Quarter

Dallas Field Goal – 41-yarder by Dan Bailey.
1:07 remaining.

Final Team Statistics

Dallas

Minnesota

First downs

19

22

Rushes-yards

29-117

27-175

Passing yards

227

267

Return yards

9

22

Passing (Att-Comp-Int)

30-21-0

33-19-1

Punts-Average

4-44.3

3-46.0

Fumbles-Lost

0-0

0-0

Penalties-Yards

7-62

2-21

Time of Possession

31:14

28:46

Individual Statistics

Rushing
Dallas – D.Murray 7-32, P.Tanner 5-25, F.Jones 5-20, T.Choice 3-14, D.Harris 1-10, L.Miller 3-7, S.McGee 1-4, J.Kitna 1-3, S.Chapas 1-2, K.Ogletree 1-1, T.Romo 1-(-1).
Minnesota – A.Peterson 14-81, J.Webb 2-46, L.Booker 3-15, T.Davis 3-12, A.Robinson 3-9, D.McNabb 1-7, C.Ponder 1-5.
Passing
Dallas – T.Romo 15-20-0, 141 yards. J.Kitna 4-6-0, 59 yards. T.Brandstater 1-1-0, 31 yards. S.McGee 1-3-0, 12 yards.
Minnesota – D.NcNabb 12-18-1, 164 yards and 1 touchdown. C.Ponder 3-8-0, 60 yards. J.Webb 4-7-0, 81 yards.
Receiving
Dallas – D.Bryant 5-67, J.Witten 4-17, J.Holley 3-51, F.Jones 3-18, M.Johnson 2-49, K.Ogletree 2-22, R.Radway 1-12, D.Murray 1-7.
Minnesota – P.Harvin 4-29, M.Jenkins 3-48, B.Berrian 2-64, A.Reisner 2-38, S.Burton 2-30, L.Booker 2-18, E.Arceneaux 1-43, R.D’Imperio 1-23, J.Iglesias 1-7, J.Kleinsasser 1-5.

Notice that only selected stats were shown. No mention of the blocked field goal that resulted in a DAL touchdown!

HOMERS: Vikings give a little sneak preview

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LOCAL VIDEO

MARK CRAIG, Star Tribune Updated: August 28, 2011 – 1:00 PM

The Vikings opened the most important game of the preseason with exactly the kind of offensive attack they’re hoping will stun the rest of the NFC North during a regular season that starts two weeks from Sunday.

The result was a perfect combination. Powerful running by Adrian Peterson setting up a 49-yard, quick-strike touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb to last year’s forgotten man, Bernard Berrian, for a 7-0 lead over the Dallas Cowboys in front of 62,800 fans at Mall of America Field.

Yeah, the Cowboys ended up winning 23-17 behind a blocked field goal that Alan Ball returned for a second-quarter touchdown. But if you’re a Vikings fan, you’re not nearly as nervous about this new offense after Saturday night’s game.

“That drive,” said coach Leslie Frazier, “was really indicative of what we want to be like during the course of the year.”

If you’re a Vikings fan, you’re also breathing a giant sigh of relief because starting cornerback Antoine Winfield’s right shoulder is A-OK. He went down with a stinger in the second quarter and did not return, but he would have if it had been a regular-season game.

The game billed as the regular-season dress rehearsal couldn’t have started any better.

After the Vikings defense held the Cowboys to one first down on the game’s opening drive, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave gave fans their first glimpse of how he intends to move the ball this season.
His first call was a power run by Peterson behind three tight ends lined up to the near right side.

Peterson gained 4 yards and then touched the ball four more times for 25 more yards — converting two third-and-1 situations — during a seven-play drive.

And just when the Cowboys decided they’d better stack the box, quarterback McNabb took a seven-step drop and stood there with all the time he needed to launch a perfectly thrown ball to Berrian. Berrian caught the ball between two defenders at the goal line.

“We’re counting on Bernard to make the kind of plays he made on that opening drive,” Frazier said. “If that does happen for us, we have a chance to be an explosive offense.”

It was a perfect knockoff of the Atlanta Falcons (Musgrave’s old team), using power to move the ball, bring the defense close to the line, slow the pass rush and set up a quick strike down the field for the first touchdown by the first-team offense this season.

Musgrave also mixed in a brief no-huddle offense and had McNabb throwing to receivers instead of sticking with tight ends and running backs. McNabb looked comfortable throwing short and long, completing 12 of 18 passes for 164 yards behind a line that played well in the first game back from knee surgery for right guard Anthony Herrera.

“I love Coach Musgrave’s offense,” said receiver Percy Harvin, who was moved around quite a bit. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

McNabb wasn’t flawless. He tried to force a ball through double coverage to Jim Kleinsasser, but the ball was tipped and intercepted. The Cowboys converted the turnover into a touchdown and a 17-7 lead.

The first-team defense held the Cowboys to 10 first-half points. The special teams struggled with the blocked field goal and a 52-yard field goal attempt by Ryan Longwell that fell short.

But the offense clicked for the most part as the starters played through the first series of the third quarter. Peterson ran 14 times for 81 yards (5.8-yard average). McNabb targeted his wideouts 13 times, completing nine passes for 141 yards. Berrian, who was lost in last year’s offense, was targeted four times, catching two for 64 yards.

“We want to spread the ball around to different guys,” McNabb said. “But Adrian is kind of the straw that stirs the drink. When we get that part of the game going, it opens up a lot of things in the passing game.”

Most of the Vikings’ starters are expected to rest in Thursday’s preseason finale against Houston at Mall of America Field. The team must cut from 90 to 80 players by Tuesday.

From MIN: TE suffers setback, will miss Saturday’s game

Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe suffered a setback with his hamstring injury and was back on the sideline a day after returning to the practice field. Coach Leslie Frazier said the team is erring on the side of caution by deciding not to play the veteran in Saturday night’s third preseason game against the Cowboys.

“It’s nothing major,” Frazier said of the setback. “Just enough that we don’t want to chance him not being there for the first [regular season] game.”

Shiancoe first injured the hamstring during the first week of practice in Mankato. His first day back to practice was Tuesday, when the Vikings practiced for 2 1/2 hours in full pads.

Meanwhile, backup middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley missed practice because of a hip flexor that has bothered him since the end of last season.

On the flip side, Frazier said right guard Anthony Herrera will start on Saturday in what will be his first game since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last November. Frazier said the team hopes to get at least one quarter out of Herrera on Saturday.

Herrera has been practicing with the first team since last week, but was held out of last Saturday’s preseason game. With Scott Kooistra (neck) landing on injured reserve, Chris DeGeare fading and Ryan Cook probably better suited to be a backup at multiple positions, Herrera is the favorite to recapture his starting position, assuming he stays healthy.

Other highlights include:

  • The team will wait until Thursday to determine whether Christian Ponder or Joe Webb will be the No. 2 quarterback on Saturday night. The two split time with the No. 2 offense today.
  • Frazier was asked what he thought of the Ravens signing former Vikings’ tackle Bryant McKinnie. Said Frazier: “Good for him. Should be good for the Ravens. I wish him nothing but the best.” Frazier released the overweight McKinnie on the second day of training camp.
  • RB Toby Gerhart missed practice again. Frazier said an MRI revealed no damage to Gerhart’s Achilles’ tendon or ankle. Gerhart is just experiencing soreness and will not play on Saturday.
  • Quarterback Donovan McNabb said he feels the timing and chemistry between himself and his receivers is “very close” to being where he wants it.
  • Special teams coach Mike Priefer said the team will talk more about the punt return rotation on Saturday, but added that he would like to see Marcus Sherels go first.
  • Jamarca Sanford and Tyrell Johnson continued to split time with the first team at strong safety.
  • Adrian Peterson fumbled an exchange with Ponder. Off the top of my head, it was the first time I remember seeing AD fumble this summer. And it might not have been entirely his fault.
  • Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave worked practice from the sideline, using a headset to communicate with the quarterbacks.
  • Rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph had several nice catches. He’s just so fluid and his hands are so soft. The longer Shiancoe is sidelined, the more Rudolph gains on him. But there is room for two pass-catching tight ends in this offense.
  • Husain Abdullah had a nice read and interception.
  • Percy Harvin made another outstanding catch, diving to grab a pass from Ponder.
  • Rookie DT Christian Ballard was on the first-team goal-line defense. Letroy Guion, Kevin Williams’ replacement, made a nice stop on the goal line. He was in on three of the four stops in Saturday night’s goal-line stand. CB Chris Cook played in the nickel and had a nice pass defense while covering Michael Jenkins.

Mark Craig

MIN: Biggest concern – Easy … it’s the O-line

Welcome to the most important week of the summer.

Returning to Winter Park for a 1 p.m. practice today, the Vikings have reached the part of their preseason where more than baby steps are required to keep the pace.

Coach Leslie Frazier will treat this week more like he would a regular-season game. Practices will have a regular-season tempo, there will be specific game-planning for the Cowboys, and the starters will play into the second half on Saturday night at Mall of America Field. How long they play hasn’t been determined, but coaches always mark the third preseason game as the one in which starters get reacquainted with returning to the field for the second half.

As far as baby steps to get to this point, the Vikings deserve a passing grade, all things considered. The defense was stifling in Saturday night’s 20-7 win at Seattle, while the offense showed some rhythm after a slow start. Yes, the offense still hasn’t scored a touchdown, but that 81-yard drive from inside their 1-yard line was impressive, especially considering it came without Percy Harvin (ribs) and Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring), two major parts of a new offense still taking its baby steps.

Possibly the most unexpected observation to this point is how comfortable new quarterback Donovan McNabb has looked with a little more than two weeks in the offense. He’s been decisive, sharp on the short and intermediate passes, threw a nice longer pass to Michael Jenkins and has shown he still can move around in the pocket.

So as we head into the big-boy steps part of the preseason, I wouldn’t put McNabb among the top five concerns at this point. Here are my top five:

1, The offensive line.

Most coaches want their starting five in place by the third preseason game. The Vikings are unsettled up front, to say the least. They still don’t know who their right guard is. Their left tackle looks like a guard and made a major mistake that gave Seahawks DE Raheem Brock an open path to McNabb. That can’t happen. Not to a 34-year-old QB who hasn’t survived all 16 games since 2004. The O-line is easily the biggest concern on this team.

2. The third cornerback.

The backup corner that’s turned more heads this summer than any other is Marcus Sherels. That’s good for the undrafted ex-Gopher, but he’s the No. 6 corner on the team. He isn’t going to move ahead of Chris Cook or Asher Allen, two young players the Vikings have a lot more invested in. Cook especially needs to start playing like a second-round draft pick. Or like he did last season before knee injuries derailed his career. He has it in him. In this division, the Vikings hope he relocates that ability in a hurry.

3. Strong safety.

The seemingly never-ending battle between preferred candidate Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford trudges on. Sanford started the preseason opener. Johnson started the second game. Whoever starts this week has the inside track for the regular-season opener. Rookie Mistral Raymond is a possibility. He would play free safety and Husain Abdullah would move to strong. The Vikings probably don’t want to show Philip Rivers a rookie free safety on Sept. 11. The good news is there’s nowhere to go but up from the Vikings’ safety play in recent years.

4. The receivers.

Harvin, Bernard Berrian and Jenkins are the starters. Greg Camarillo probably is the fourth receiver (and second slot guy in four-wide sets). The fifth receiver could be the winner from a pool of interesting prospects. Devin Aromashodu would get my tentative vote. Harvin is explosive, but not a No. 1 receiver that can line up wide and present a physical mismatch. Jenkins has the size and deceptive speed, but he’s never proven to be that No. 1 guy. And one wonders if Berrian, the split end, can be a deep threat if the offensive line can’t give McNabb the time needed to throw deep. And what happens to Berrian’s attitude if he’s not a big part of the offense?

5. Injuries.

This is the week that Shiancoe, Harvin, Camarillo and others need to be on the field. It will be the only chance to play extended minutes as full units before the regular season begins. That’s especially important for a brand new offense that’s going to have to score touchdowns to keep up with the Chargers in San Diego. There needs to be a test run with a full complement of players.

Source:

Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003.

Vikings starters still have no TDs

JUDD ZULGAD  Star Tribune

Updated: August 21, 2011 – 11:30 PM

The Vikings’ first-team offense has played four series and 31 plays over the first two preseason games. That has led to three drives that ended with Chris Kluwe punts and one that Ryan Longwell completed with a field goal.

But with the Vikings learning a new offense and 21 days until the regular-season opener at San Diego, how much stock should be put into the fact quarterback Donovan McNabb has yet to lead a touchdown drive?

“We just tried to improve from the first game with the opportunity that we’ve had,” McNabb said Saturday following the Vikings’ 20-7 victory at Seattle. “I think that was the biggest [thing] for all of us was try to improve off of the first game.”

McNabb completed six of 11 passes for 40 yards and had a long completion of 12 yards as the Vikings opened the exhibition schedule with a 14-3 loss on Aug. 13 at Tennessee. On Saturday, he completed six of eight throws for 81 yards with a long of 23.

Coach Leslie Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave are certain to want to see McNabb and the offense take a step forward Saturday when the Vikings play their preseason home opener against Dallas. The stakes will be increased a bit, too, as the Vikings will game-plan for the Cowboys. They did not game-plan for the Titans or Seahawks.

“We’ll actually structure practices now,” Frazier said. “We’ll be out of training-camp mode and structure it as if we were getting ready for a game during the season. We’ll do some game-planning, not to the degree that we would if we were playing a regular-season game. We’ll go through simulation of what a game week is like.”

Frazier said Saturday night that he and his coaches would sit down on Sunday and discuss how much the starters would play against Dallas. The players were off Sunday and will return to work at Winter Park on Monday.

McNabb and the other starters will see their most extensive work of the preseason. Starters from many teams usually get their most work in the third exhibition — it wouldn’t be surprising to see McNabb play into the third quarter — and then do close to nothing in the finale, which in the Vikings’ case will be Sept. 1 against Houston at Mall of America Field.

Frazier did say he liked what he saw from his top offense Saturday at CenturyLink Field, even if they didn’t get in the end zone.

“[I] really was encouraged by the fact they were able to move the football as well as we were,” he said. “This is not an easy place to play whether it be the preseason or regular season. We seemed to be composed and really seemed to have a handle on what we wanted to get accomplished. We went into this game and we wanted to be able to establish an identity up front with our offensive line, along with our defensive line. I really thought we got in a rhythm with our first unit, and that was encouraging.”

It took awhile for them to find that rhythm. The Vikings’ only offensive series of the first quarter lasted three plays. But McNabb returned in the second quarter to direct a 13-play, 81-yard drive that began at the Vikings 1 and stalled at the Seahawks 18. Longwell completed it with a 36-yard field goal.

“That was big for us,” McNabb said of getting out of a backed-up situation. “Obviously it was tough field position to be in and being able to sustain a drive to get down in our red area and be able to have an opportunity to score. That was big for us. But again we have to be able to capitalize on that.

”… We came out with three, but still we want to be able to come out with seven. Obviously, in the tough division that we’re in we’ve got to score points.”

McNabb, as has been his custom, was able to spread the ball around during the series. He completed passes to running back Adrian Peterson (2, 2 yards), tight ends Kyle Rudolph (17) and Jim Kleinsasser (23) and wide receivers Michael Jenkins (21) and Devin Aromashodu (9) before his attempts for Peterson and Rudolph on second and third down fell incomplete.

“For myself, obviously, being in a new offense and being around new guys, that was kind of something that I try to go into each practice and trying to get comfortable with one another,” McNabb said. “Those guys get comfortable with me. Coming out here in game situation, we had opportunities, just didn’t capitalize.”

McNabb, Frazier and Musgrave all will hope to change that on Saturday night.

NEXT GAME: Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings

With the preseason games completed with Denver and San Diego games, it’s time to look ahead to the Minnesota Vikings. Look forward posts that relate to them this week … from Minnesota, Dallas, and the National sports media.

Sat, Aug 27 @ Minnesota (KTVT/CBS 11)

7:00 PM

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