Cowboys Top Vikings: Offense Clicking, Defense Not So Much, Turnovers Seal Win

Gerald Sensabaugh dominated the highlight reel with a blocked field goal attempt and an interception that helped the Cowboys to a 23-17 win over the Minneapolis Vikings last night.

"It was just a great play by Sensabaugh," Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell said of the blocked 47-yard field goal attempt. "The last thing you ever want to hear is the double thump of you kicking the ball and it getting hit right away. For a kicker there isn’t a worse sound in the world." Alan Ball scooped up the loose ball and ran it in for a touchdown, putting the Cowboys ahead 10-7 early in the second quarter.

Sensabaugh also stopped a long second quarter Vikings drive that had started at the Minnesota 14-yard line, by intercepting a pass at the Dallas 19. Jason Hatcher had batted the ball in the air at the line of scrimmage and Sensabaugh made a diving catch of the ball.

On the ensuing drive, Felix Jones made like a battering ram and punched the ball in from five yards for a touchdown that increased the Cowboys lead to 17-7. Jones rushed five times for 20 yards and a TD.

Tony Romo completed 75% of his passes last night (15 of 20) for 141 yards, compiled a 94 passer rating and was sacked only once. Of note, Romo was playing behind a new offensive line with three rookies starting and an average age of 24.8 against the Vikings first team unit. Last season, the average age of the offensive line was 30.8 years.

Jason Witten was particularly pleased with Romo's line calls:

"He did a great job of getting us in the right play with the run-pass kills. That’s a good feeling. It felt like that was the Tony Romo we’re used to seeing with the energy he brings and the tempo. It’s hard to do on the road in the preseason but I thought he was really good with a couple of drives we had."

Romo was 5-for-7 on passes to Dez Bryant, completed every throw to Witten (4), Felix Jones (3) and Jesse Holley (2), but had a little trouble connecting with Kevin Ogletree (1-for-4).

Rookie Dan Bailey, was perfect on two field goal attempts, a 37-yarder in the first quarter and a 40-yarder in the fourth. Shayne Graham hit his sole attempt from 38 yards in the third quarter.

The Vikings scored on a 49-yard touchdown toss from Donovan McNabb in the first quarter to Bernard Berrian, a field goal in the second quarter and a 10-yard run by QB Joe Webb in the third quarter.

Some voices on the game below.

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In spurts Jason Garrett liked what he saw - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Jason Garrett was not beaming about everything the Cowboys did, but saw positive signs that his team is getting "it."

"I thought it was a good night for a lot of different reasons," Garrett said. "The principle being for our football team to continue to understand how you win in the National Football League. When you make a big play in the kicking game, like we did obviously blocking the field goal and running it back for a touchdown, that’s a huge play. Then certainly getting a couple of turnovers and taking care of the football, obviously you’ve got a good chance in the ballgame."

"We’ll look at the tape and see how they did but they seemed to do a good job at critical moments of a drive either taking the ball away or keeping them out of the end zone," Garrett said.

Garretty says Cowboys played good 'situational football' - Carlos Mendez - Cowboys Corner
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett liked the way his team responded to "situational football" in Saturday night’s preseason game against the Vikings.

"That play at the end of the game was a good example," Garrett said. "They catch the ball inbounds, we tackle them, the clock runs out. Understanding the situation, handling it the right way."

"When you make a big play in the kicking game like we did – obviously blocking a field goal and running it back for a touchdown is a huge play, and then when you create a couple of turnovers and you take care of the football – you have a good chance of winning ballgames," Garrett said. "So I think that was a good thing for us, to understand as a team."

Dallas Cowboys are still working things out on defense - Calvin Watkins, ESPN Dallas
With the clock ticking, the Cowboys are still working things out on defense. Watkins notes that the Cowboys allowed 442 yards against the Vikings, but that Jerry Jones didn't seem overly concerned about his defense not being ready for the season opener.

"At this time, no I'm not," he said. "I'm very calm and I'm just not worried about it. I know ultimately what they're trying to do and we all do. No matter what the defense is, we need turnovers, and we got a couple of them."

Jerry Jones, Romo praise undrafted rookie center Kevin Kowalski - SportsDayDFW
Jerry Jones said he was pleased with the play of undrafted rookie free agent center Kevin Kowalski, and Romo said he was proud of Kowalski's effort:

"He did play very well," Jones said. "We were sensitive about having him step in there and play the whole game at center with Felix [Jones] and Tony [Romo] and a lot of your top guys back there. We wanted them blocked as good as he could do it and I think he did a very good job."

"He did a great job. He stepped in and played well," Romo said of Kowalski. "I was proud of his effort."

Kowalski performs well in the spotlight - Cowboys Corner
Cowboys rookie offensive lineman Kevin Kowalski found out only a few hours before the game Saturday night that he would be starting, but the Cowboys were pleased with his performance.

"He did play very well," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "He gave a good account of himself. I don’t even need to look at the tape to know he did play well. We had a lot of those young players do some very good things. I particularly like how confident Tony was out there. Those exchanges are important, and it was flawless. ...We were sensitive about having him step in there and play the whole game at center, with Felix [Jones] and Tony and all of the top guys back there. We want them blocked as good as you could do it. I think he did a good job."

"It was a little bit [different], obviously," Romo said. "We got acquainted before the game, with snaps and things of that nature and talking about certain things. Obviously, you like [the snap] sometimes a little bit different [than other quarterbacks]. But it worked out well tonight. I thought he played well. ...We’ll see when we watch the tape. I’m sure he’s got a couple of plays he wants back. I thought Kevin did a good job."

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