The Vikings had given up two last-minute touchdowns this season prior to Sunday, so it probably shouldn't have come as a surprise when they surrendered their third to Tony Romo.
Romo is the NFL's fifth-rated passer at 98.1 and entered the weekend as second-best quarterback in the fourth quarter. However, it's been a long time since he was able to throw a game-winning touchdown pass in the final minute. According to Elias Sports Bureau, it's been almost six years.
Despite criticism from defensive linemen Brian Robison and Kevin Williams about dropping a defensive linemen into coverage on the Cowboys' game-winning drive, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said there was only one defensive call he would have changed on that series.
"The big play to Dez Bryant," Frazier said, referencing a 34-yard catch-and-run by Bryant that put the Cowboys in field goal position on the Minnesota 21-yard line. "That one we might could have done something a little bit different. We called a pressure. They blocked the pressure. They had some tells from an offensive standpoint that could have helped us there. That's the one play that might have could have done something a little different."
The Cowboys ran nine plays and covered 90 yards in 2 minutes, 9 seconds on their game-winning drive that culminated with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Harris with 35 seconds to play. It was the first time since December 2007 (a TD pass to Jason Witten with 18 seconds left against the Lions) that Romo had a game-winning TD in the two minutes.
Since then, according to Elias, 41 different NFL players have thrown a game-winning TD in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter.
Defensive linemen were upset that the Vikings dropped a defensive lineman into coverage four times in that nine-play series. Three times, it was Everson Griffen that dropped. A fourth time it was Kevin Williams.
Robison, who was critical of the calls after the game Sunday wasn't backing down on Monday.
"I don't take back anything I said (Sunday). I'm probably going to get griped at for it and in my honest opinion I don't think I said anything out of line. I don't think I necessarily threw anybody under the bus," Robison said. "I didn't say anything that I shouldn't have said. That's the thing we've always prided ourselves in – holding each other accountable. I want to win ballgames just as much as the next guy and I believe everybody in this locker room wants to win ballgames. In order to get that done we've got to all be in this together and get it done."
The Vikings also rushed four linemen on three of those nine plays and five linemen on two of those plays.
In essence, it didn't seem to matter. When they rushed four linemen, Romo completed 3 of 4 passes for 34 yards, including the touchdown pass and throwaway for the incompletion. When they rushed three linemen, Romo completed 3 of 3 for 22 yards. When they rushed five, he had one dropped pass and another that went for 34 yards to Bryant.
Frazier said he would "probably" talk to his linemen about their comments to the media.
"I appreciate the communication. I understand the frustration. We were all frustrated at the end of that ballgame (Sunday)," Frazier said. "But there are so many positive things that occurred prior to that two-minute drive. But we'll definitely talk through that situation as a team later this afternoon and just where we are and what we have to do to move forward.
"I respect their opinions and I know how competitive they are and how much they want to win. I like for them to talk to their coaches myself about whatever concerns they may have and try to get those worked out. But I do understand their frustration and I respect their opinions."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Defense frustrated after rare Romo moment
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