If there were any doubts as to whether Joe Webb would enter the regular season as the Vikings' No. 2 quarterback, he tried his best to eliminate those questions with a solid performance Saturday night against the Dallas Cowboys. See what he had to say about the performance.
In an up and down performance by the Vikings Saturday night in their 23-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, one player who seemed to solidify his place on the team was quarterback Joe Webb
. Brought in as the No. 2 quarterback in the third quarter, Webb provided a spark with both his arm and his legs that helped his cause as the No. 2 QB behind Donovan McNabb
when the regular season begins Sept. 11.
Webb completed 4 of 7 passes for 81 yards and scrambled twice for 46 yards to provide the offense with a spark, something Webb said he has used to his advantage since being drafted by the Vikings last year.
He has been accused of relying too heavily on his scrambling ability, but said it's just part of his arsenal and he uses it to his advantage.
"I'm getting a lot more comfortable," Webb said. "God blessed me with legs that I can use when I need them. There are times when I'm able to scramble and make plays when my receivers are covered and the pocket collapses."
Webb said he isn't sure what the team's plan is for him. He's working to be the No. 2 quarterback and, given that the team used him in a variety of ways this week in practice – in Wildcat formations and even split out as a receiver – he said he isn't asking a lot of questions of the coaching staff as to why. Instead, he embraces the diversity he is being offered as packages are being installed to take advantage of the things he does best.
"We'll just see what happens when the season starts," Webb said. "I don't control that. I'm practicing and playing to try to get myself on the field and help the team. In the end, the coaches make those decisions. I just go out and perform and, if they want to do different things like that, I'm more than willing."
Webb said he has become a lot more familiar with the ins and outs of Bill Musgrave's offense, but every day remains a learning experience and he has to be ready to do whatever the team calls upon him to do for the Vikings offense.
"I'm still learning," Webb said. "It's hard to play in the NFL. You have to make sure you're on top of your game. We have a great veteran in Donovan McNabb that I can learn from and take it from there. I'm feeling more comfortable and I think it shows."
Although Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said the No. 2 role is still undetermined, Webb looked in his quest to earn it.
The Vikings were without starters Kevin Williams and Visanthe Shiancoe as well as special teams aces Heath Farwell and Kenny Onatolu – all of whom rested injuries rather than risking further complications.
A healthy scratch for Dallas was center Andre Gurode, who has fallen out of favor with the front office of the Cowboys. Owner Jerry Jones told reporters prior to the game that Gurode was inactive because the team didn't want to risk him getting injured when it is quite possible he will be traded or released in the coming days.
Adrian Peterson had a productive evening, carrying 14 times for 81 yards, consistently picking up good chunks of yardage (including carries of 11, 7, 5, 9, 15, 5 and 6 yards).
"It all about getting big chunks and moving the chains," Peterson said. "I feel like our offense has some things to clean up, but our passing game was very productive. We took some good steps forward tonight with our running game, as well as our play action. We just have to clean up some things."
For the game, the Vikings outgained the Cowboys by a wide margin. The Vikings had 442 total yards (267 passing, 175 rushing), while Dallas had 344 yards (227 passing, 117 rushing).
The Vikings had just two penalties the entire game – one on the defense in the first half and one on the offense in the second half.
The Vikes were solid in the return game again, allowing Dallas just 68 yards on four kick returns (an average of just 17 yards per return) and five yards on its only punt return.
Donovan McNabb completed 12 of 18 passes for 164 yards with one TD and one interception for a passer rating of 91.0, while Tony Romo completed 15 of 20 passes for 141 yards and a passer rating of 94.0.
Christian Ponder struggled in his only action in his NFL home debut. Ponder completed just 3 of 8 passes for 60 yards and saw his first series blow up when he mishandled a shotgun snap and was tackled for a 16-yard loss.
In one of the stranger moments of the game, late in the third quarter the fans at the Metrodome resurrected "The Wave," which lasted almost 10 minutes before they finally got sick of doing it between the third and fourth quarters.
Despite trailing 17-10 at the half, the Vikings held a distinct yardage advantage. They gained 216 yards in the half (127 passing, 89 rushing) to 157 for Dallas (135 passing, 22 rushing).
Individually, McNabb completed 11 of 16 passes for 138 yards with one touchdown for a passer rating of 90.1. Peterson had 11 carries for 69 yards to pace the running game and, on the receiving end, Percy Harvin led the team with four receptions and Bernard Berrian led the way with two catches for 64 yards and a TD.
For the Cowboys, Romo completed 15 of 20 passes for 141 yards and a passer rating of 94.0. Felix Jones was the leading rusher with 20 yards on just five carries and Dez Bryant led all receivers with five catches for 67 yards.
Although preseason games are known to be sloppy, there were only three penalties in the first half (two by the Cowboys, one by the Vikings).
Cedric Griffin had seven tackles in the first half.
Cord Parks continued to make his case to stick with the team after breaking off a 53-yard kickoff return in the second quarter that set the Vikings up in Dallas territory. The offense didn't take full advantage, but it was enough to get them in scoring range for a 44-yard field goal that cut the Dallas lead to 17-10 with 3:43 to play in the first half.
For the second straight game, the Vikings tried to challenge a play and lost. Bryant made a sideline catch, but, as he went to the ground, Cedric Griffin punched the ball out. The Vikings believed the "Calvin Johnson Rule" was in play, but the call stood, the Cowboys got a first down and continued a drive that eventually ended with a 5-yard touchdown run by Jones to give Dallas a 17-7 lead.
The Vikings had a critical turnover in the second quarter after driving into scoring territory. Defensive lineman Jason Hatcher dropped back into coverage and tipped McNabb's pass high into the air, where safety Gerald Sensabaugh made a diving interception to kill the drive and keep the score 10-7 early in the second quarter.
Despite not getting the ball first and only having the ball for 6:37 of the first quarter, the Vikings dominated the stats. They outgained Dallas 127-73. McNabb completed 5 of 6 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown, Peterson rushed seven times for 43 yards and Berrian caught two passes for 64 yards and a TD. For the Cowboys, Romo completed 8 of 10 passes in the quarter, completing two or more passes to three different receivers.
Antoine Winfield suffered a shoulder stinger in the first quarter, but, after being down for 30 seconds or so, he popped to his feet and left under his own power.
The Vikings' first drive of the game was extremely efficient, as the team banged Peterson at the Cowboys with runs on five of the first six plays, including a pair of third-down conversions. With the Cowboys cheating up to cover the run, McNabb completed a perfectly thrown 49-yard bomb to Berrian, who turned Orlando Scandrick around and safety Abram Elam mistimed an attempt to bat the ball down, allowing it to drop in for the touchdown, giving the Vikings a 7-0 lead with 7:53 to play in the first quarter.
The paid attendance was 62,800, the 135th straight sellout at the Metrodome dating back to 1998.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.