1:00 PM ET, November 3, 2013
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tony Romo got another chance after throwing a late-game interception at home. This time, he came through.
Romo's 7-yard pass to Harris answered an 11-yard touchdown by Adrian Peterson that had given Minnesota a 23-20 lead. The East Texas kid raised on the Cowboys had 140 yards rushing in his first game at their $1.2 billion stadium.
More Vikings-Cowboys coverage
The Cowboys won't complain about a win, but that they needed a game-winning drive shows things must be fixed, writes Jean-Jacques Taylor. Story
With the game on the line, some Vikings defensive players were left wondering why the team deviated from its plan, writes Ben Goessling. Blog
The Cowboys (5-4) bounced back from a devastating loss at Detroit by avoiding what probably would have been a more damaging defeat.
"We just have to keep the belief throughout the whole football game," said Romo, who was 34 of 51. "I never doubted that we would find a way to win this game, and we did it."
Christian Ponder threw for a touchdown and ran for another score against his hometown team, but it wasn't enough to avoid a fourth straight loss for the Vikings (1-7).
Romo's first attempt to answer Peterson's go-ahead score was intercepted on a great play along the sideline by A.J. Jefferson -- and was a reminder of the late pick he threw in Dallas' only home loss this year.
But the Vikings couldn't convert this late Romo mistake into points and gave him the ball back at the Dallas 10 with 2:44 remaining.
Dez Bryant had a 34-yard catch that put Dallas in position for at least a tying field goal, which was possible because Blair Walsh missed wide right on the extra point after Peterson's touchdown. But Romo kept pushing.
He threw 9 yards to Cole Beasley and 5 to Jason Witten, who led Dallas with eight catches for 102 yards. On the next play, Romo found Harris cutting between defenders in the middle of the field, and Harris dived over the goal line.
"I think if you pull back and you really look at Tony Romo's career, people want to talk about some of these plays where things didn't work out," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "But if you really look at his body of work and you look at it objectively, he's done this kind of stuff a lot."
Peterson got Minnesota's go-ahead drive earlier in the quarter going with a 52-yard run, then went the final 11 on fourth-and-1. He easily got the first down and carried safety Jeff Heath the last few yards, with Heath trying to strip the ball as Peterson crossed the goal line.
"I don't really care about the yards," said Peterson, who had 25 carries and another 37 yards receiving. "I want to get some Ws. I don't want to rush for 2,000 yards and be sitting at home watching others play."
After there was one touchdown between the teams in the first half, there were three in the first 7 minutes of the third quarter.
Romo had consecutive 26-yard completions to Witten, the second for a touchdown and a 13-10 lead.
A week after Cordarrelle Patterson set an NFL record with a 109-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, he fumbled a short kickoff out of bounds at the Minnesota 5.
Ponder, who played high school football in the Dallas suburb of Colleyville, had an answer, finding Jennings for 27 yards on third-and-4 before going to Kyle Rudolph, who bounced off Barry Church at the 6 and finished off a 31-yard scoring catch to get the Vikings to 20-17.
"I need to be out there playing," said Ponder, who was 25 of 37 after being named starter on Friday, and with Josh Freeman inactive because of a concussion. "For myself and the leaders on this team, we need to get this turned around and get out there and win."
The Cowboys were in position to extend the 20-17 lead when Bryant took his team out of field goal range with unsportsmanlike conduct for taking off his helmet and arguing with officials as a pass interference penalty against him was about to be announced.
Bryant, who made headlines last week with a pair of sideline outbursts in a loss at Detroit, later dropped an easy first-down catch on second-and-18 on a drive that ended with a punt.
"I didn't know anything about the helmet rule," said Bryant, who had six catches for 64 yards. "I knew the play was over with, and I thought it was OK. During the timeouts, I always take my helmet off."
Ponder led a pair of 11-play scoring drives in the first half, the second one ending on his 6-yard scramble for a 10-6 lead late in the second quarter.
Peterson played the Cowboys at Texas Stadium his rookie year in 2007. Before Sunday, that was Dallas' only win in the past eight games against the Vikings. ... Witten avoided a four-game streak with fewer than five catches. It would have been his first since 2008. ... The Vikings are off to their worst start since the franchise's debut in 1961.
ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 03: Singer and actress Selena Gomez talks with Dallas Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones...(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||5.8||5.6|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||2-4||1-2|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||1|
|FG||6:56||Dan Bailey 41 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 9 plays, 56 yds, 4:15
|FG||2:11||Blair Walsh 23 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 11 plays, 59 yds, 4:43
|FG||6:41||Dan Bailey 44 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 12 plays, 58 yds, 6:56
|TD||1:47||Christian Ponder 6 Yard Run (Blair Walsh Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 79 yds, 4:54
|TD||11:43||Jason Witten 26 Yard Pass From Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 74 yds, 3:22
|TD||11:36||Nick Hayden Fumble Recovery (Dan Bailey Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 1 plays, -5 yds, 0:10
|TD||8:22||Kyle Rudolph 31 Yard Pass From Christian Ponder (Blair Walsh Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 77 yds, 3:17
|TD||5:49||Adrian Peterson 11 Yard Run (Blair Walsh Kick is No Good)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 87 yds, 4:52
|TD||0:42||Dwayne Harris 7 Yard Pass From Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 90 yds, 2:09
- Despite DeMarco Murray's return, the Cowboys dropped back to pass (including sacks and scrambles) on 87 percent of their plays Sunday, the highest rate in the NFL this season. - Sunday was just the sixth time since the start of 2006 that a team won when dropping back to pass at least 80% of the time (5-90 entering this week). - The Cowboys ran 20 plays out of empty formations Sunday (no skill players in the backfield), their most in a game this season.
Tony Romo targeted Dez Bryant 11 times Sunday, his third-most targets in a game this season. Romo was 6-of-11 targeting Bryant, including two dropped passes. Sunday was Bryant's first multi-drop game of the season. It also marks the third straight game he and Romo failed to complete at least 60.0% of their attempts, something they had done in five straight games beforehand.
Adrian Peterson gained 93 yards on 11 rushes when facing at least eight in the box Sunday, including a go-ahead touchdown with 5:40 remaining in the 4th quarter. The 8.5 yards per rush against such defenses was Peterson's best this season.
The Cowboys are the 38th team in the Super Bowl era to run the ball fewer than 10 times in a game. They are just the 2nd team to win such a game over that span.[+]
Fewer Than 10 Rushes in Game - Super Bowl Era (Since 1966)
Tony Romo was 6-of-7 for 56 yards and the game-winning touchdown when facing four or fewer pass rushers on the Cowboys' final drive. Romo was only pressured once on the last drive (sacked or under duress) after being pressured on 36 percent of dropbacks against standard rushes on his first nine drives.[+]
Tony Romo Facing 4 or Fewer Pass Rushers - Sunday vs Vikings
It's not often you see a team with 10 rushing attempts or fewer win a football game. Dallas had just 9 yesterday but won, joining only the 2007 Patriots and 2005 Colts as teams to win a game with 10 rushes or fewer since the merger in 1970.[+]
10 or Fewer Rush Att - Won Game Since 1970
All eyes will be on Dez Bryant this weekend after his name has been all over the headlines recently. On the field he's been excellent, and Dallas has relied on him to keep drives going. No one has more receptions for 1st downs this season than Bryant. His 37 catches for 1st downs are one more than who else but Calvin Johnson.[+]
Christian Ponder's rushing touchdown in the 2nd quarter was his fourth rushing touchdown this season and third touchdown scramble, both of which lead all NFL quarterbacks.
ESPN Stats & Information