|Other Week 19 Game Recaps|
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Week 19 Game Recap: Dallas Cowboys 3, Minnesota Vikings 34
|QB Tony Romo, Pass: 22 - 35 - 198 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0|
The talk of Tony Romo finally turning the corner and becoming a "big game" quarterback has once again been silenced. Romo was awful on Sunday. He fumbled the ball three times (losing two) and threw an interception to Ben Leber on a play when he simply tried to make something out of nothing. On the play, Romo was forced to step up in the pocket. He focused his eyes on the right side of the field and after a pump fake, he half threw-half shoved a ball in to a swarm of 4 defenders, resulting in an easy interception. Romo's best throws came on early passes to tight ends Jason Witten and Martellus Bennet. However, as the game wore on Romo became less and less effective, finally resulting in a futile final 20 minutes where the Cowboys couldn't create any momentum.
|RB Felix Jones, Rush: 14 - 69 - 0, Rec: 3 - 22 - 0 (4 targets)|
Jones started the game for Dallas and was very effective in the first half, carrying for a number of first downs and showing his speed early on. For some reason, he was used much less in the second half of the game despite being every bit as effective of a receiver as Marion Barber. Jones best carry came early in the game on a run up the middle to the right. Jones made one cut to the left and barreled ahead for a 15 yard gain, shedding tackles along the way. Only Wade Phillips knows why Jones' workload was reduced so much in the second half.
|RB Marion Barber, Rush: 8 - 14 - 0|
Despite not starting the game, Barber did come in to the game to relieve Felix Jones and managed to play most of the second half as the Cowboys sought any type of momentum against the stiffling Minnesota defense. Barber's first three carries resulted in hard runs for 4 and 5 yard gains. Barber was clearly excited to be back on the field and running wild, but he was not able to sustain it. Barber finished the game with 8 carries for 14 yards, most of which came on his first three carries.
|WR Miles Austin, Rush: 1 - 8 - 0, Rec: 4 - 34 - 0 (8 targets)|
Austin had a relatively quiet day against Minnesota, catching only 4 balls for with a long gain of 12. Austin's best catch came on a heads up play where the Tony Romo pass was tipped up by Jason Witten. Austin, in the area, quickly keyed in on the ball and outjumped the defense for the reception, eventually turning upfield for a 7 yard gain. Otherwise, his effect was limited as the entire Cowboy offense struggled.
|WR Patrick Crayton, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (4 targets)|
Crayton finished the day with two receptions for 17 yards. His biggest impact came as a blocker on early Felix Jones rushing plays. Otherwise, like the rest of the Cowboys, Crayton was unable to come up with a big play to help jump-start the offense.
|WR Roy Williams (1 targets)|
Does Williams still play for the Cowboys? Because to see the game Sunday, a casual fan would be hard-pressed to see that he was part of the team. Williams finished without a reception and had absolutely no effect on the game. So much for being the Cowboys #1 receiver.
|TE Jason Witten, Rec: 10 - 98 - 0 (13 targets)|
Witten was his reliable self against the Vikings, but his efforts alone couldn't propel the Dallas offense. Witten finished the day with 10 catches, most of which were on crossing patterns and out routes. With one exception - an early 22 yard gain on a crossing pattern from right to left - Witten was wrapped up almost immediately after catching the ball, thus limiting his ability to gain yards after the catch.
|TE Martellus Bennett, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (4 targets)|
Bennett had 3 receptions in the first 20 minutes of the game, finally looking like the middle-of-the-field threat that he was drafted to be. His best catch came on a pass deep in to Vikings territory where Bennett adjusted to a ball thrown behind him and about three feet too high. Unfortunately, Tony Romo was unable to continue with the early rapport with Bennett and he wasn't targeted successfully again.
|QB Brett Favre, Pass: 15 - 24 - 234 - 4 TD / 0 INT|
Favre turned back the clock against Dallas and posted one of the better playoff games of his career. He was masterful under center for the Vikings, connecting on passes from both the pocket and on the move. He finished the day with 4 touchdowns, the first of which coming on one of the finer passes of his career. After a Dallas missed field goal, Favre took the snap, faked a hand off, and threaded a deep pass to a well-covered Sidney Rice that resulted in a touchdown. Favre's second touchdown - also to Rice - came under significant pressure where Favre bought time with his legs, evaded the rush, and tossed a short strike to a wide-open Rice for a 14-3 lead. Favre looks to be playing some of the best football of his career at present and will be a tough matchup for New Orleans next week.
|RB Adrian Peterson, Rush: 26 - 63 - 0, Rec: 1 - 19 - 0 (2 targets)|
Peterson was a bell-cow against Dallas and despite his inability to break 3 yards per carry, his effect on the Dallas defense was notable. Peterson did not find much room to run against the Cowboys front seven but still managed to power his way for positive yardage on most every carry. Just as importantly, he did not turn the ball over despite running right in to the teeth of the defense on every carry. Peterson's best run came on a carry in the second half to the left-end where he was met at the line by 4 Cowboys defenders. Peterson dug in and pushed his way for a 5 yard gain. Peterson has not been the gamebreaker this season that he was in 2007 and 2008, but his power is certainly felt by defenses, particularly when the Vikings have jumped out to a lead as they did Sunday.
|RB Chester Taylor, Rush: 4 - 23 - 0, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets)|
Taylor had a very nice game spelling Adrian Peterson and coming in on long passing downs. His best catch came on a screen to the right side wherein he tiptoed down the line to the Dallas 4 yard line, setting up a lead-extending field goal in the second half. Most of Taylor's touches came on third down, but he was able to earn positive yardage with each touch, helping the Vikings extend drives and chew up clock time.
|WR Sidney Rice, Rec: 6 - 141 - 3 (7 targets)|
Rice has benefited more from Brett Favre's play then anyone else in Minnesota. Sunday was a prime example as Rice finished with three touchdowns and over 140 yards receiving. Rice's natural talent has shown through in 2009 and Sunday was another great day for him. Rice's best catch came in the first quarter. Rice got off the line of scrimmage, evaded Michael Jenkins bump, and found himself in single coverage with Dallas safety Gerald Sensabaugh. Despite close coverage, Favre threaded the ball to a spot low and in front of Rice. Rice caught the ball one handed and ran in to the endzone before the Dallas defense even seemed to know what had happened. Rice will present a tough matchup the next two weeks as he and Brett Favre are clearly in sync.
|WR Percy Harvin, Rush: 3 - 23 - 0, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (4 targets)|
Harvin was fairly quiet as a pass catcher and return man against the Cowboys on Sunday. That said, he did have three carries for 23 yards against the Cowboys. His best run came on a reverse where defensive end Anthony Spencer had a chance to tackle Harvin in the backfield, only to see him cut back up the middle of the field for a 19 yard gain.
|WR Bernard Berrian, Rec: 3 - 32 - 0 (6 targets)|
Once the forgotten man with the emergence of Sidney Rice, Berrian had a solid game against Dallas posting three catches for 32 yards, including two first downs. His best catch came on a quick out to the left sideline wherein Berrian made a double-move to freeze the defender before hauling in the Brett Favre pass for a first down.
|TE Visanthe Shiancoe, Rec: 1 - 11 - 1 (1 targets)|
Shiancoe's only catch of the game came on an 1 yard touchdown from Brett Favre long after the outcome had been decided. Outside of that catch, Shiancoe was most often called on to stay in and block Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer.