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Cowboys Sink Vikings 23-17 In Dress Rehearsal

Dez Bryant making one of his five catches Saturday

The Cowboys entered Saturday’s tilt with the Vikings looking to see visible signs of improvement from their defense, and hopefully, see some younger players emerge on both sides of the ball. Jason Garrett was hoping that the road experience in Minnesota would help prepare his team, and especially, the young guys for what it would be like during the season.

The Cowboys and the Vikings both started well on offense. Any hopes that the Cowboys defense would put to rest some of the fans anxiousness was thwarted by a very efficient opening drive by McNabb and the Vikings. The Cowboys starters were unable to contain Adrian Peterson the whole game and McNabb hooked up with the speedy Bernard Berrian for an opening drive 49-yard touchdown pass. The pass somehow made it through the hands of Cowboys safety Abram Elam for the touchdown on what should have been an interception.

The Cowboys answered on their second possession as Romo led the Cowboys on a 68-yard drive that ended with a Dan Bailey 37-yard field goal. The Vikings again drove the ball easily on the Cowboys defense but stalled out and were forced to attempt a field goal. Gerald Sensabaugh leaped over the Vikings line and blocked the Longwell field goal attempt. Alan Ball finally picked it up and ran it in for the touchdown.

Sesnabaugh would again make a highlight on the Vikings next drive when DE Jason Hatcher batted a McNabb pass into the air and Sensabaugh made a nice diving interception. The turnover led to a Felix Jones 5-yard touchdown run and signalled the end for the Cowboys starting offense.

The Cowboys defense would be unable to stop the Vikings again, who drove down the field and kicked a field goal just before half time. The Cowboys backups entered the game in the second half and QB’s Jon Kitna and Tom Brandstater both led drives ending in field goals, which would be enough to hold on for the 23-17 victory.

For highlights click here.

Notes:

Undradfted rookie Kevin Kowalski started at center for the Cowboys as Andre Gurode was held out of the game for “business” reasons. It is rumoured that Gurode might be on his way out with the emergence of Phil Costa, who missed the game due to an injury to his PCL. Kowalski played well and Garrett thought he handled himself pretty well, “It seemed like he and Tony were pretty much on the same page. Not having a lot of experience working together, anytime you don’t have a ball on the ground, that’s a positive.”

Rookie running back DeMarco Murray and fourth year man Tashard Choice were both active in this game and both carried the ball well. Choice had two impressive runs called back due to penalties.

Tom Brandstater got his first preseason action at quarterback for Dallas. On the last drive he took over for McGee and led the Cowboys to the game sealing Dan Bailey field goal.

Players Who Impressed:

1. WR Jesse Holley – Holley was looking to have a strong game catching the ball and on special teams. It seemed like he developed a good comfort level with Romo. He hauled in 3 receptions for 51 yards. He was also very active on special teams, but did receive a major face mask penalty in the fourth quarter.

2. S Gerald Sensabaugh – Sensabaugh was every where on the field. He made and interception, blocked a field goal and layer several good hits on the Vikings.

3. QB Tony Romo – Romo was very efficient and led the Cowboys on two scoring drives. He was 15-20, with 141 yards passing.

4. DE Jason Hatcher – Hatcher had only 2 tackles but he batted the pass that Sensabaugh picked off and also was in the backfield putting a lot of pressure on Vikings quarterbacks.

5. WR Manny Johnson – Johnson made two spectacular catches. He is small, but if he continues to make plays he’ll be a hard guy to get rid of.

Players Who Need Failed To Impress:

1. Cowboys Starting Defense – I’m not alone in this but the Cowboys have not shown anything in their starting defense to suggest that they will be much improved this season. If that was the dress rehearsal it is clear they have a long way to go. I know they haven’t had much time, but it looks like the offense will have to outscore opponents if the Cowboys are going to win. Minnesota had 210 yards in the first half. Adrain Peterson ran all over the defense. The worst part is, against the pass, the players look like their in good position, they just aren’t making plays.

2. LB Brandon Williams – Williams played the whole second half and didn’t do anything. His pass rush was non-existent and he recorded only one tackle, which might be a mistake because I didn’t see it.

3. CB Josh Thomas – Thomas was burned twice in coverage and has not looked good in games during the preseason. With Mario Butler putting pressure on him, Thomas needs to step up in the last game of the preseason.

4. DE Igor Olshansky – I will be shocked if the Cowboys keep Olshansky. He did not have a good game at all and the Vikings ran right over him. With Lissemore and Hatcher playing well, it seems that Olshansky will be expendable when Marcus Spears returns.


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