The Vikings traveled to Dallas this past weekend as double-digit underdogs to the high-flying Dallas Cowboys offense, which is led by the dynamic duo of quarterback Tony Romo and receiver Dez Bryant. The Cowboys got all they could handle from the Vikings for much of the game and even trailed late in the 4th quarter before Romo ultimately drove his team 90 yards for the game-winning score.
It was another closely-contested, final-minute type of loss for the Vikings, a move the team and its fans have seen far too often this season.
So what went wrong? Here are a few ideas…
Cowboys netted 14-point swing to open 2nd half
With 12:23 to play in the 3rd quarter, the Vikings had a 10-6 lead behind a
Romo and the Cowboys offense opened the 3rd quarter with a six-play, 74 yard drive that culminated in a 26-yard scoring strike from Romo to tight end Jason Witten with 11:43 to play in the quarter. After
In the blink of an eye, the Cowboys had turned a four-point deficit into a 10-point lead.
Neither defense nor offense closed when given the chance
With the offense unable to seal the deal, the Vikings defense came on the field needing to prevent a long drive by the Cowboys to preserve the win. But Romo was too good, completing seven of nine passes and marching the Cowboys 90 yards in nine plays to take a 27-23 lead with just 42 seconds to play in the 4th quarter.
The Vikings prepared all week and battled all game enough to win, but down the stretch they just couldn’t come up with the big play to seal the deal.
Couldn’t capitalize on prime field position
When you’re a struggling team playing on the road against a high-scoring offense, taking advantage of every opportunity is a must. Twice on Sunday in Dallas the Vikings took possession inside Cowboys territory.
The first was following a 26-yard punt return by
The second opportunity came late in the game following Jefferson’s interception, which placed the Vikings on the Dallas 41 with a chance to drive the ball, take time off the clock and register the winning score. But the Vikings went three-and-out and had to punt away.
On three occasions the Vikings mishandled or turned over a possession that wound up costing them. The first two came in combination, with Patterson muffing a kickoff and the ball bouncing out of bounds at the Minnesota 5 as a result. On the first play of that drive, Ponder was sacked and lost possession of the ball in the end zone, resulting in the Hayden touchdown.
Then early in the 4th quarter with the Dallas leading 20-17, the Vikings were in a 3rd and 4 from their own 30. Ponder was pressured up the middle by Everett Brown on his drop back and the result was a pass that floated too high and wide, right into the arms of cornerback Orlando Scandrick.
Injuries continue to mount
The Vikings came into the game banged up, with