Cowboys 'D' comes up clutch

BY Ross Jones • November 3, 2013

The Cowboys were undermanned and coming off a devastating Week 8 loss.

When Tony Romo threw a late interception, the Dallas faithful at Cowboys Stadium gasped in fury, hoping another fourth-quarter meltdown wasn’t on its way. Fortunately for them, that didn’t happen.

Instead, the Cowboys defense, a unit that ranks last in the NFL against the pass, forced a three-and-out and allowed Romo another chance.

“The mindset is the same every single time,” Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick told in a telephone interview. “Go out there. Get stops. Get our offense back out on the field.”

They did just that. The eighth-year quarterback piloted a nine-play, 90-yard scoring drive capped by a 7-yard throw to Dwayne Harris to seal the 27-24 victory at Jerry’s World.

“This has gotta be a confidence boost and it lets us know that we can finish games,” Scandrick said. “Finishing games has been a big emphasis around here. Everybody knows that there isn’t a secret. In the games we’ve lost this year, we’ve had 10-point leads and [still would] end up losing the game.”

While Vikings running back Adrian Peterson ran for 140 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown, the Cowboys defense, made up of unfamiliar faces, banded together.

DeMarcus Ware, who has been sidelined with a quad strain, missed his third straight game. They were also without cornerback Morris Claiborne and linebacker DeVonte Holloman.

“It’s pass rush by committee, man,” Scandrick said. “We always got new guys coming in. I barely get a chance to meet some of these guys because they’re not here very long. But I know that the guys did a great job today.”

Dallas (5-4) got to Vikings QB Christian Ponder only twice, but George Selvie’s strip sack couldn’t have come at a better time. Defensive tackle Nick Hayden fell on the ball in the end zone in the third quarter to take a 10-point lead.

It wasn’t Ponder’s only turnover in the game. In the fourth quarter, the third-year quarterback scanned the field and tried to make a play. Instead, he was picked off.

“It was just Cover-2, and I was just dropping and sinking into the hole,” Scandrick said. “[Ponder] threw a corner route to Greg Jennings, and I got the ball.”

Winning games like this are never easy in the NFL. The Vikings (1-7) had lost three straight heading into this matchup, but that didn’t stop them from playing with some grit. The Cowboys can add this win to their resume and have a week to prepare for a hungry Saints team that is coming off a loss against the Jets.

“The message in the locker room is always the same no matter if we win, lose or draw,” Scandrick said. “You have to move on to the next one. It doesn’t matter what happened. I think our motto is, ‘next play.’ So you always got to move on to the next one. What’s done is done. You can’t do nothing about it. there’s nine games in the books and we’re 5-4.

“We have to go out and get ready for this next week and try to figure out how we’re going to go down to New Orleans and get a ‘W.’”