The Vikings had the fortune of seeing the NFL's most accurate kicker in its history miss two overtime attempts, but there were many other facets of the game that led to a 10-10 tie.
In the history of the NFL, no kicker has had a better career field goal percentage than Mike Vanderjagt
. But Monday night, Dallas fans had little nice to say about their new kicker, who can single-handedly be blamed for the game with the Vikings finishing in a 10-10 tie.
The Cowboys sent the game to overtime with just 17 seconds remaining in regulation, and in overtime had two chances for chip-shot field goals to end the game. Instead, Vanderjagt, who has made an NFL record 87.5 percent of his career attempts, choked twice.
There are some who argued that a contentious relationship between Vanderjagt and franchise quarterback Peyton Manning
had caused the rift that sent him out of Indianapolis. That, combined with a missed field goal in the final seconds of the Colts' playoff loss to the Steelers, were contributing factors.
Vanderjagt has found himself in the doghouse of new coach Bill Parcells, who has complained publicly that his kicker has taken too long to recover from a groin injury that wasn't thought to be that serious. Perhaps it was worse than thought. With just three minutes gone in overtime, Parcells instructed quarterback Tony Romo
to take a snap, move to the center of the field and take a knee to get Vanderjagt in the middle of the field. The fans that remained started to file out of the stadium only to see Vanderjagt push the 33-yard attempt wide right.
With a final chance to win the game, the Cowboys marched from their own 32 to the Vikings 14-yard, running the ball three times to set up the would-be game-winning field goal. This time from 32 yards away, Vanderjagt again pushed the kick wide right by five feet and the game ended in a tie.
For once, it might look like the talk of Dallas will no longer be Terrell Owens
. It will be whether Vanderjagt keeps his kicking job with the Cowboys.
Cornerback Dovonte Edwards, who had already won the nickel back job, may have broken his arm Thursday in the first quarter. On a sideline tackle, he straightened up wide receiver Patrick Crayton and was injured when Kenechi Udeze came storming in to finish off the play. He remained down for several minutes and was taken off the field immediately on a cart for X-rays.
Thanks to playing almost the entire game from behind, the Cowboys dominated the statistical categories, highlighted by 521 total yards, as opposed to just 289 by the Vikings. Dallas ran the ball 31 times for 103 yards, as opposed to 86 yards on 29 carries by the Vikings. The passing disparity was even greater, with the Vikings throwing 30 times for 203 yards and the Cowboys throwing 56 times for 418 yards.
The Vikings didn't have a sack in the game. The Cowboys were credited with three sacks, but two of them came on quarterback scrambles in which Tarvaris Jackson and J.T. O'Sullivan each ran out of bounds before reaching the line of scrimmage.
The Cowboys dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for 43:08, as opposed to 31:52 for the Vikings.
Dallas was 1-for-6 in the red zone scoring a touchdown, scoring just two (one touchdown and one field goal) of the six times in close. The Vikings only got in the Dallas red zone once and had to settle for a field goal.
As with the team statistics, the Cowboys dominated the individual statistics. Tony Romo completing a whopping 30 of 45 passes with one touchdown and two interceptions. Tyson Thompson ended up leading the team in rushing with 10 carries for 56 yards. In the receiving department, a pair of first-year players did most of the damage, with Sam Hurd catching six passes for 110 yards and Jamaica Rector catching eight passes for 93 yards.
Brad Johnson finished the game completing 11 of 13 passes for 135 yards and one TD. Ciatrick Fason was the Vikings' leading rusher with 11 carries for 36 yards and no Vikings receiver had more than 40 yards in receptions.
The Vikings defense had some concerns, especially in the second half with the substitutes in the game, giving up big plays in the passing game. Dallas had completions of 17, 19 and 32 yards in the first half and 30, 20, 24, 25, 23, 19, 33 and 19 yards in the second half.
Chris Kluwe did his part with the game on the line in overtime, using a directional punt that went out of bounds on the Dallas 3-yard line.
Brad Johnson showed his sense of humor as he joined the other captains for the overtime coin flip, telling the Cowboys captain that they should have gone for two points instead an extra point to send the game to overtime.
The Vikings lost the battle of field position all game long. Their offensive drives started from the 5, 2, 11, 20, 13, 25, 17, 20, 23, 20 and 22-yard line during Thursday's game. The team had one drive that started from the Dallas 37 after the Cowboys fumbled a punt.
Tackling machine Heath Farwell cemented his spot on the team. After leading the team in tackles through three preseason games, Farwell added 10 tackles Thursday. He was followed by Antoine Winfield, who had eight tackles. Willie Offord had five tackles and an interception.
Mewelde Moore suited up for Thursday's game but did not play.
Matt Birk was the only offensive starter held out of action Thursday. He was a game-time scratch and was replaced by Jason Whittle. Cornerback Fred Smoot (shoulder) did not make the trip to Dallas.
The Cowboys had 248 yards of offense after the end of the third quarter.
What could be a cause for concern was seen during the Vikings punting formations Thursday. Long snapper Cullen Loeffler had three high snaps to Kluwe – high enough that he had to leave his feet each time.
Rookie Tarvaris Jackson looked human Thursday. Only in for three drives, he went three-and-out in his first drive – which was saved when Dontarrious Thomas ripped the ball away from the Cowboys' punt returner and recovered it himself. Jackson failed to take advantage and the Vikings went three-and-out after the fumble recovery. In his final drive, he converted a pair of first downs, but the drive stalled and the team didn't get past their own 41-yard line.
At the half, the starters had played pretty evenly. Dallas held an 11-9 edge in first downs, rushing 12 times for 12 yards, while the Vikings had 12 carries for 22 yards. Both teams were effective in the passing game, with Johnson completing 11 of 13 passes for 135 yards and the Cowboys QBs completing 15 of 20 passes for 150 yards.
The Vikings' first-team offense converted four of six third-down attempts.
Troy Williamson caught just one pass Thursday, but it was a 40-yard bomb that set up the Vikings' only touchdown and was enough for him to finish the game as the receiving yardage leader for Minnestoa. Chester Taylor had the most catches, pulling in four passes for 36 yards in the first half.
The Vikings completely stymied Julius Jones. The Cowboys' starting running back had eight carries for minus-2 yards.
In the first half, the Cowboys' quarterbacks had three rushes for 13 yards, while the team's running backs had nine carries for minus-1 yard.
The Vikings were able to sustain some good drives with the first unit in the game. The touchdown drive was a nine-play, 98-yard drive that took five minutes off the clock, and that was followed up with a 13-play drive that, while it didn't score any points, took another 7:22 off the clock.
Mike Tomlin wasn't pleased with his defense in the final minutes of the first half, allowing Dallas into scoring position because of back-to-back personal fouls that moved the ball from the Vikings 42 to the 14-yard line in two plays – which were an incomplete pass and a three-yard run.
Bledsoe came out of the game in the second quarter after being forced to run on a broken play. He was hit on the crown of the helmet and was seen on the sideline getting the tests indicative of a concussion.
Antoine Winfield was dominant in the first half, making eight tackles – six of them solo tackles.
Neither team could keep the starting quarterbacks from completing passes early. In the first quarter, Johnson and Bledsoe combined to complete 11 of 13 passes for 96 yards.
The special teams looked shaky early for both teams, as penalties were called on each of the first three kicks of the game – two holding penalties on Dallas and a block-in-the-back call on the Vikings.
Terrell Owens didn't start, but saw his first action as a Cowboy in the second quarter, catching one pass for 6 yards.
The Vikings lost the coin toss to start the game for the first time in the preseason.
Unlike the Metrodome, which was full for both preseason games played in Minnesota, Texas Stadium was almost half empty.