Both of these teams were considered Super Bowl contenders after both made the playoffs last year, but they stumbled out of the gate to identical 1-3 records. The Vikings (2-3), who beat the Cowboys (1-4), 34-3, in a divisional playoff game last year, scored on special teams and two short fields to squeak out the victory.
Brett Favre finished the game with 118 yards and a touchdown on 14-of-19 efficiency for Minnesota, which will have an opportunity to climb back to .500 next week when the Vikings travel to Favre’s old stomping grounds in Green Bay. Adrian Peterson added 73 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, while Randy Moss hauled in five passes for 55 yards.
Dallas’ Tony Romo completed 25-of-33 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns, but threw two costly interceptions that led to 10 Minnesota points. Roy Williams had two touchdown catches, while Dez Bryant had the other.
The Cowboys, who are among the league leaders in penalties, disappointed once again with 10 more infractions totaling 91 yards. Dallas, which went 11-5 last year in capturing the NFC East title, will try to avoid matching 2009’s loss total when it hosts the Giants next Monday.
With the game tied, the Cowboys took over deep in their own territory with nine minutes to play.
On 3rd-and-2 from the 22, Romo attempted a short pass over the middle to Jason Witten, but the ball found the hands of Minnesota’s E.J. Henderson — his second interception of the game — who gave the Vikings possession at the Dallas 30.
Minnesota wasn’t able to find the end zone on the ensuing series, but Longwell drilled a 38-yard field goal with 4:05 on the clock for a 24-21 lead.
On the Cowboys’ ensuing possession, Romo couldn’t gain one first down, and the visitors elected to punt. The Vikings appeared to go three-and-out after an incompletion on third down, but Mike Jenkins was called for defensive pass interference, extending the drive.
Minnesota was able to run the clock down to 30 seconds before punting it away, and Dallas had one last ditch effort from its own seven-yard line with 13 seconds left. It wasn’t enough time for the Cowboys to make a serious threat downfield.
Favre fumbled near midfield on the Vikings’ first possession, and Dallas jumped on the loose ball. An eight-play, 48-yard drive ensued, culminating with Romo’s first touchdown pass to Williams from 15 yards away for a 7-0 lead.
The Cowboys got the ball back after Minnesota’s offense stumbled, but a Romo pass deep in Dallas territory was tipped up in the air and intercepted by Henderson, who returned it to the 16-yard line. Four plays later, Favre found Camarillo in the end zone from the 10 for a tie score.
Dallas, though, put together an impressive drive just before halftime that lasted more than seven minutes and amassed 82 yards. Marion Barber converted an early 3rd-and-1 with a three-yard burst through the middle, and a 30-yard completion down the left sideline to Witten put the Cowboys in Minnesota territory.
Facing 3rd-and-7 from the Minnesota 29, Romo found plenty of space up the middle, scrambling without being touched before sliding safely for a 14-yard gain and a first down. Another Romo rush up the middle converted a third down inside the 10, and the signal-caller hit Williams on a slant two plays later for a two-yard score and a 14-7 halftime margin.
The Vikings, who gained only 60 yards in the first half, didn’t need their offense to tie up the score in the second half, as Harvin burst through the middle of the field for a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown.
A Chris Kluwe punt pinned the Cowboys at their own four-yard line midway through the third, and Dallas gained no yards on the ensuing drive before punting the ball away.
Minnesota took over on the opposing 49-yard line and moved the length of the field in nine plays. The key play of the drive occurred when the Vikings faced 3rd-and-4 at the 32; Favre avoided a heavy blitz and tossed the ball near the line of scrimmage to Jimmy Kleinsasser, who rumbled 20 yards down the field to the 12.
On 3rd-and-1 from the three, Peterson hammered his way for two yards and a first down, then found the end zone on the following play for a 21-14 lead with under a minute until the fourth.
The Cowboys, though, answered with a 10-play, 65-yard series that ended on a perfect 31-yard touch pass from Romo to Bryant to tie the game early in the fourth quarter. Barber extended the drive on a 4th-and-1 run that went for two yards.
Favre made his 290th consecutive start at quarterback, extending his own record…The Vikings won despite gaining just 188 yards on offense. Dallas had 297 yards of offense…Minnesota committed five penalties for 45 yards…Peterson surpassed 5,000 career yards and is the fifth fastest to do it in NFL history…The Vikings have won five of the last six regular season meetings between the clubs.