Cowboys’ defense makes a stand this time

Posted Sunday, Nov. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
A

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

The NFL’s worst defense had been in this situation before. The Dallas Cowboys were nursing a lead and having to keep their foe out of the end zone in the game’s final minute.

They couldn’t do it against Detroit.

They did against Minnesota.

Not only did Dallas hold on to beat the Vikings 27-23 Sunday afternoon, the win jump-starts the second half of the season and gives the much-maligned Cowboys defense a much-needed shot in the arm.

“We learned that we have to trust in the system that we have,” safety Barry Church said. “We did that today and we played sound defense for the most part, and we got the ‘W.’”

No one at AT&T Stadium had to be reminded of the circumstances in last week’s devastating 31-30 loss to the Lions. Minnesota didn’t have quite as much time on the clock for its final drive as Detroit did, but the Vikings started at their own 42-yard line with 29 seconds left and three timeouts remaining.

Christian Ponder threw an incomplete pass on first down and was sacked on second. Facing a third-and-17, the Vikings picked up a first down, but their final play, a desperation heave from Ponder, fell harmlessly short of the end zone.

“In our minds we had to get a stop,” defensive end George Selvie said. “The whole defense, everybody, was on the same page. We had to get a stop, and that’s what we did.”

Minnesota’s offense won’t be confused with Denver’s anytime soon, but the Vikings did slice through the Cowboys at times and finished with 393 yards.

Adrian Peterson racked up 140 yards and carried four Cowboys over the goal line for Minnesota’s go-ahead score in the fourth. Ponder matched his season high with 236 yards passing.

But the Dallas defense also made plays. Orlando Scandrick picked off Ponder early in the fourth with the Cowboys clinging to a three-point lead.

The defense forced a three-and-out later in the quarter to set up the Cowboys’ 90-yard, game-winning drive. Sean Lee stuffed Peterson on fourth-and-1 from the Dallas 16 early in the second quarter.

Selvie assisted on the defense’s biggest play of the game early in the third to give the Cowboys a 20-10 advantage. He stripped Ponder of the ball in the Minnesota end zone, and Nick Hayden fell on it for a touchdown.

“I give all the credit to George on that play,” Hayden said. “He was the one that got the strip-sack-fumble. I was just lucky enough to be there at the right time and scoop it up for him. It was a whole d-line effort.”

The trick for the Cowboys is building on that effort going into New Orleans, and they know it.

“It depends on how we take it and how we learn from it and just how we keep rolling,” defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said. “I’m looking forward to see how we learn from it. It was a great win. It showed us that we were resilient and we never gave up.”

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?





Tuesday, October 21Full Scoreboard
San Francisco «7Final | Box
Kansas City1
110th World Series, Game One. San Francisco leads series, 1-0.
Full Scoreboard
Tuesday, October 21Full Scoreboard
Houston85Final | Box
Miami «90
Indiana89Final | Box
Minnesota «107
Utah «105Final | Box
Oklahoma City91
Portland «93Final | Box
Denver75
Phoenix914th Qtr 0:12 | Box
LA Lakers94TV: TWC SN, D
LA Clippers633rd Qtr 10:00 | Box
Golden State64TV: TNT
Full Scoreboard
Week 8Full Scoreboard
Thursday
San Diego 8:25 PM ET
Denver TV: CBS/NFL Network
Sunday
Detroit 9:30 AM ET
Atlanta TV: FOX
Seattle 1:00 PM ET
Carolina TV: CBS
Baltimore 1:00 PM ET
Cincinnati TV: CBS
Miami 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: CBS
St. Louis 1:00 PM ET
Kansas City TV: FOX
Chicago 1:00 PM ET
New England TV: FOX
Buffalo 1:00 PM ET
NY Jets TV: CBS
Minnesota 1:00 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: FOX
Houston 1:00 PM ET
Tennessee TV: CBS
Philadelphia 4:05 PM ET
Arizona TV: FOX
Oakland 4:25 PM ET
Cleveland TV: CBS
Indianapolis 4:25 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: CBS
Green Bay 8:30 PM ET
New Orleans TV: NBC
Monday
Washington 8:30 PM ET
Dallas TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Tuesday, October 21Full Scoreboard
San Jose3Final | Box
Boston «5
NY Rangers «4Final(OT) | Box
New Jersey3
Toronto «5Final | Box
NY Islanders2
Detroit1Final(OT) | Box
Montreal «2
Arizona3Final(SO) | Box
Nashville «4
Carolina1Final | Box
Winnipeg «3
Philadelphia0Final | Box
Chicago «4
Vancouver3Final | Box
Dallas «6
Florida «4Final(OT) | Box
Colorado3
Tampa Bay «2Final(OT) | Box
Calgary1
Full Scoreboard