Romo spoils homecoming for Vikes’ Peterson, Ponder
Tony Romo was 90 yards from the end zone, trailing one-win
Minnesota by a field goal with another late-game interception fresh
on his mind.
The Dallas quarterback found a way to spoil the homecoming for
Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder.
Romo threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns, including the
go-ahead score to Dwayne Harris with 35 seconds left to answer a
touchdown by Peterson that put Minnesota in front, and the Cowboys
beat the Vikings 27-23 Sunday.
”Just really a great job by Tony,” said tight end Jason
Witten, who had two catches on the winning drive and led the
Cowboys with eight grabs for 102 yards. ”I mean, as good as I’ve
seen him in a long time as far as just kind of directing traffic
and finding throws and staying poised with his decision-making and
allowing us to get first downs.”
Romo’s first attempt to answer Peterson’s go-ahead score ended
with an interception on a great play along the sideline by A.J.
Jefferson – and was a reminder of the late pick Romo threw in
Dallas’ only home loss this year.
Dallas didn’t get another chance four weeks ago, when Peyton
Manning and the Denver Broncos ran out the clock and won 51-48 on a
field goal on the final play.
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
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, eventually finding Harris, who cut in front
of Marcus Sherels and dived over the goal line.
Romo was 7 of 9 for all 90 yards on the winning drive, which
handed the Vikings (1-7) their fourth straight loss.
”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.”
Five things to consider after the Cowboys (5-4) bounced back
from a devastating loss at Detroit and avoided what probably would
have been a more damaging defeat:
UNHAPPY HOMECOMING: Peterson, the East Texas kid raised on the
Cowboys, was playing in their $1.2 billion stadium for the first
time and rushed for 140 yards. He got the go-ahead drive in the
fourth 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.
Ponder threw for a touchdown and ran for another score against
his hometown team. ”It was a good experience to be here and close
to home, play at this stadium and have family come watch,” said
Ponder, who played high school football in the Dallas suburb of
Colleyville. ”But it’s a tough experience when we lose.”
SUDDEN SWING: The Cowboys scored touchdowns 10 seconds apart
early in the third quarter to take a 20-10 lead. 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. On the
next play, George Selvie knocked the ball out of Ponder’s hand in
the end zone, and Nick Hayden recovered.
QB SITUATION: Ponder answered the quick Dallas touchdowns by
going 4 for 4 for 74 yards on a drive that ended with a 31-yard
touchdown to Kyle Rudolph, who bounced off Barry Church at the 6
and fought his way into the end zone. Ponder was 25 of 37 after
being named starter on Friday, and with Josh Freeman inactive
because of a concussion. He also led a pair of 11-play scoring
drives in the first half, including his 6-yard scoring scramble.
”As we speak, I don’t see why we’d make a change, but sometimes
after ballgames, we make emotional decisions,” said Vikings coach
Leslie Frazier, whose team is at home against Washington on
MORE DEZ DRAMA: The Cowboys were in position to extend a 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. ”I wasn’t angry at the ref,” said Bryant, who made
headlines last week with a pair of sideline outbursts. ”I know now
not to take my helmet off.”
NO NEED TO RUN: DeMarco Murray returned for Dallas after missing
two games with a knee injury. He went 27 yards on his second carry
but finished with just four carries for 31 yards and the Cowboys
had a franchise-low nine attempts. ”You’d certainly like to have
more balance than that, obviously,” Garrett said. ”I do think
with both of those situations at the end of the ballgame, sometimes
it gets skewed.”
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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