Cowboys top Vikings on late TD pass
Arlington, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Dwayne Harris' 7-yard touchdown catch with 35 seconds to play helped the Dallas Cowboys survive a scare from the Minnesota Vikings with a 27-23 win at AT&T Stadium.
Tony Romo passed for 337 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while going 34-for-51, while Jason Witten caught eight passes for 102 yards and a score for the Cowboys (5-4), who bounced back from last week's one-point loss in Detroit.
Cole Beasley had six catches for 68 yards and Dez Bryant caught six passes for 64 yards for Dallas, which still holds a one-game lead over Philadelphia for first place in the NFC East.
"We did a really good job in the second half," said Dallas head coach Jason Garrett. "The first half, we weren't in the rhythm we wanted to be, but we made some good adjustments in the second half and that last drive was great."
Christian Ponder went 25-for-37 for 236 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while also adding a score on the ground for the Vikings (1-7), who have lost their past four games. Adrian Peterson carried the ball 25 times for 140 yards and a score, adding three catches for 37 yards.
"This is a very disappointing loss for our whole team," said Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier. "Guys fought hard for four quarters, but just couldn't find a way to finish the game. Tough loss for our team.
The Vikings had gone up thanks to an 11-yard touchdown run from Peterson, but Blair Walsh had missed the extra point and it was a 23-20 game with 5:40 to play.
Romo was picked off by A.J. Jefferson on Dallas' ensuing possession, but the Cowboys held the Vikings to a quick three-and-out and got the ball back at their own 10.
The first play saw Romo hit Witten for 11 yards and Beasley added an 18-yard catch two plays later. After an incompletion, Bryant took the ball 34 yards on a catch-and-run down to the Minnesota 21. Three plays later, Romo dumped the ball over the middle for Harris, who squeezed into the end zone for a 27-23 lead.
Minnesota had all three of its timeouts and the short kickoff was returned to its own 42, but Ponder was sacked on the second play and his desperation heave on the last play fell incomplete well short of the end zone.
Dallas' first drive saw the team get three points as Dan Bailey's 41-yard field goal came with 6:51 to play in the first. The nine-play, 56-yard drive was highlighted by a 12-yard catch from Beasley on 3rd-and-6, and a 27-yard run by DeMarco Murray.
Minnesota answered with a field goal of its own on the ensuing touch as Walsh hit a chip shot from 23-yards out to tie the game with 2:08 showing on the first quarter clock. Ponder completed three straight passes for a total of 41 yards on the drive, including a 13-yard gain by Jarius Wright on 3rd-and-10.
The Vikings held the Cowboys to a three-and-out, and in a drive that spanned the first and second quarters were able to get into scoring position. However, the team opted to go for it on 4th-and-1 at the Dallas 16 and Peterson was stood up at the line for no gain.
Romo took advantage of the change of possession by completing seven straight passes for 66 yards and the team had a first down at the Minnesota 12. However, after an incompletion, Romo was sacked twice and the Cowboys came away with a 44-yard field goal from Bailey for a 6-3 lead with 6:35 to play in the first half.
Ponder drove his team right back down the field and took the ball in himself from six yards out for a 10-6 lead. Peterson had a run of 13 yards and a catch of 19 yards to help set up the score.
Starting the second half with the ball, Romo converted a third down with an 11-yard pass to Beasley. After Witten caught a pass for 26 yards down to the Minnesota 26, Romo again went to his big tight end as Witten caught the ball near the 5, bounced off a pair of tacklers and went into the end zone for 13-10 lead 3 1/2 minutes into the quarter.
It didn't take long for the Cowboys to add to their lead as Ponder had the ball stripped in the end zone on the first play of Minnesota's next drive, with Nick Hayden falling on the ball for a 20-10 lead. On the kickoff, Cordarrelle Patterson muffed the catch and the ball rolled out of bounds at the 5-yard line to give the team poor field position.
Unfazed by the unfortunate turnover, Ponder drove his team back down the field as a 27-yard catch by Greg Jennings was followed by a 12-yard grab from Peterson. Two plays later, Ponder floated a pass down the middle for Kyle Rudolph, who caught the ball near the 10 and took it into the end zone on a 31-yard score to make it a 20-17 game with 8:11 to play in the third.
Minnesota had the ball to start the fourth quarter, but Ponder floated a pass down the left side that Orlando Scandrick came down with for the interception.
The Vikings defense, though, kept Dallas from moving the ball and the visitors got the ball back at their own 13.
After gaining a pair of first downs, Peterson finally broke a big run as he went around the right end and down the sideline for a 52-yard run down to the Dallas 20. Again facing a 4th-and-1 at the 11, Minnesota went for it again, but this time Peterson wasn't stood up as he bulled his way into the end zone for the score with 5:40 left. Walsh, though, hit the extra point attempt wide right and it was a 23-20 game.
Ponder has four rushing touchdowns on the season, compared to just three passing scores ... Murray's 31 yards on four carries led a Cowboys' rushing game that totaled just 36 yards ... Dallas plays at New Orleans next Sunday ... Minnesota hosts Washington on Thursday ... Minnesota had won seven of the last eight games against Dallas coming into the game ... Minnesota outgained Dallas, 393-350, and controlled the ball for 31:27.
11/03 19:33:10 ET