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DALLAS – One week after the Detroit Lions roared back from behind to win by a touchdown with only 12 seconds remaining, the Dallas Cowboys got their own come-from-behind victory. On Sunday, with the Minnesota Vikings leading by four, Tony Romo connected with Dwayne Harris for a seven-yard touchdown with 35 seconds remaining to win the game, 27-23.
Here is a look at the Dallas grades from the Cowboys vs. Vikings game.
Offensive Grade: B
Dallas should not have had the trouble they did against the Minnesota Vikings, and a large part of the problems came with the offensive line protection. With Brian Waters on the IR, the Dallas offensive line is shorthanded once again and they couldn’t keep Tony Romo from running for his life the entire game. The Vikings sacked Romo three times, forced one interception and hurried him repeatedly throughout the game.
Romo finished up completing 34 passes in 51 attempts for 337 yards and two touchdowns, to go with his interception. He also spread the ball around, with tight end Jason Witten catching eight balls for 102 yards and a touchdown in his best game of the season. Cole Beasley and Dez Bryant both had six receptions as well.
This was also DeMarco Murray’s first game back from injury, but Dallas didn’t want to run the ball in this game. While they were playing a back-and-forth battle with the Vikings, Dallas only ran the ball a total of nine times on Sunday, with Murray leading the way with four carries for 31 yards, all early in the game. Murray did finish with a 7.8 yard-per-carry average.
Defensive Grade: C
Heading into this game, the Dallas Cowboys strength on defense was against the run, and even stopped Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy and Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles along the way. However, Adrian Peterson was able to shred the defense and almost single-handedly led his Vikings to the win in the fourth quarter with a 52-yard run, followed by an 11-yard touchdown run. Peterson finished with 140 rushing yards and another three receptions for 37 yards, and Dallas couldn’t stop him from moving the chains.
They also struggled with Christian Ponder, although they limited him to 236 passing yards. Ponder threw for a touchdown and ran for another one. However, the Cowboys buckled down in the second half against Ponder and were able to limit his damage late in the game. They sacked him twice and Orlando Scandrick intercepted a pass as well.
Overall, Dallas gave up a lot of yards on the ground and struggled early with Ponder, but they made some big plays at the end, stopping the Vikings from scoring. Sean Lee led the way with nine tackles while Scandrick chipped in with five tackles and four passes defended.
Special Teams Grade: B-
The Minnesota Vikings had a bad mistake in the fourth quarter when Blair Walsh missed an extra point. It made Dan Bailey look even better when he hit two field goals and converted all three of his extra point attempts. The special teams coverage had trouble with the Vikings, especially on kick returns where Cordarrelle Patterson returned four punts for 105 yards and Toby Gerhart returned one for 20.
Things looked better for Dallas defending punt returns, although Marcus Sherels almost broke a punt return, gaining 26 yards before punter Chris Jones stopped the run with a great tackle. Dwayne Harris only had three returns in the game, one punt return and two kick returns, averaging 30 yards per carry on the kick returns.
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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.