After three straight blowout defeats, losing by an average margin of 18 points, the Minnesota Vikings played better, but still not good enough to win their second game of the season.
The Dallas Cowboys scored the winning touchdown with less than 49 seconds left in the game to defeat the Vikings, 27-23. It was the third time this season the opposition scored in the final minute.
As the losses pile up, it gets tougher and tougher to find any bright spots on the roster.
As usual, with another loss, don't expect very good grades this week, despite coming close to a win. If only they were throwing horse shoes.
Despite going 0-4 in his previous four starts, Ponder got the chance to start again for the Minnesota Vikings.
Even though his passer rating was lower against the Cowboys than it was against the Green Bay Packers last week, Ponder played better with more poise. Opening with a no-huddle offense, Ponder made quick decisions and was effective both passing and running the ball.
His six-yard touchdown run in the second quarter gave the Vikings a 10-6 halftime lead.
Unfortunately, he did not play as well in the second half. He had two turnovers, a fumble in the third quarter that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown and an interception early in the fourth quarter.
He finished the game completing 25 of 37 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown.
If the defense could have come up with a stop for the Vikings win, then Ponder might have gotten a better grade. But in the end, if he hangs onto the ball, it's a safety instead of a touchdown and maybe the outcome of the game is different.
Adrian Peterson: B+
Adrian Peterson matched his best game of the season, rushing for 140 yards on 25 carries. He scored his lone touchdown of the game with an 11-yard run on 4th-and-1. On that play, he could not be stopped as he dragged several defenders into the end zone for the touchdown. He had the longest play from scrimmage in the game with a 52-yard run in the fourth quarter.
He also caught three passes for 37 yards. The 177 total yards are the most for Peterson this season.
Toby Gerhart: C-
It's not his fault he doesn't get many opportunities to play. On the bright side, some team is going to get a pretty good runner with lots of tread left on the tires next season. Toby Gerhart's total contribution was one reception for six yards.
Peterson's contribution completely overshadows that of Gerhart's.
Greg Jennings led the Vikings with six catches for 56 yards, but it was the one ball he dropped in the fourth quarter that hurt the Vikings. Following a Tony Romo interception that gave the Vikings the ball on the Cowboys' 41-yard line, Jennings dropped a pass on the flag route. Ponder hit him right on the mark.
The play would have easily put the Vikings in field-goal range.
Jerome Simpson: D
Targeted five times, Jerome Simpson only had two receptions for 24 yards.
Cordarrelle Patterson: C-
Cordarrelle Patterson finished with three catches for only 13 yards. The Vikings need to find a way to utilize his talent more on offense.
Jarius Wright: C-
Jarius Wright had three catches for 31 yards. He was targeted five times, and there was at least one ball he should have caught.
Joe Webb: Incomplete
No catches for Joe Webb in this game.
Overall grade: C-
The catches were there, but Minnesota's wide receivers could not rack up much yards after catch. In total, they only had 124 receiving yards.
Kyle Rudolph: C
Kyle Rudolph had only two catches for 35 yards, and one of them was a 31-yard touchdown. He was injured on the touchdown and left the game, missing half of the third quarter and all of the fourth.
John Carlson: C-
John Carlson finished with four catches for 23 yards.
Chase Ford: Incomplete
With Rhett Ellison out for the game and Rudolph going down, Chase Ford got to see some action on the field, but he didn't make the stat sheet.
Overall Grade: C-
Six catches for only 58 yards is not enough from these two tight ends.
Run Blocking: B
With Peterson gaining 140 rushing yards, the offensive line must have done something right against the Cowboys. It's the 4th-and-1 from the Cowboys' 16-yard line that failed, keeping this grade from being higher—that and the fact the team lost.
Pass Blocking: B-
The offensive line did a pretty good job of protecting Ponder. The Cowboys only recorded two sacks and two quarterback hits. But just like for run blocking, it comes down to one play they didn't make. After Patterson fumbled a kickoff out of bounds at the 5-yard line, Ponder was sacked on the following play in the end zone. He fumbled the ball, and the Cowboys recovered it for a touchdown. At the time, it gave Dallas a 20-10 lead.
Jared Allen: D
Jared Allen only recorded one tackle in the game and was held without a sack.
Kevin Williams: C-
Kevin Williams also only had one tackle, but at least is was for a loss.
Letroy Guion: C-
Ditto for Letroy Guion on the stat sheet—one tackle for a loss.
Brian Robison: B
Brian Robison came up with two sacks on consecutive plays that pushed the Cowboys from 2nd-and-10 from the Vikings' 12-yard line to 4th-and-24 at the 26-yard line. He also had two quarterback hits.
Everson Griffen: B-
Everson Griffen finished with two tackles, one for a loss, a sack and a quarterback hit.
Sharrif Floyd: F
I know he played, but I don't recall seeing him in the game. Not good for the team's top draft pick.
Overall Grade: C
The Vikings could have really used a sack in the second half, especially on the Cowboys' last drive.
Chad Greenway: D
Not the kind of game we typically see from Chad Greenway. He finished with only four tackles.
Erin Henderson: D
ErinHenderson finished with only four tackles as well, but one of them was for a loss.
Marvin Mitchell: D
Marvin Mitchell needs to play on the special teams. He only had one tackle in the game.
Michael Mauti: C
In limited action, he recorded two tackles. Just the fact he is on the field speaks volumes.
Gerald Hodges: C
Mauti's Penn State teammate finally got on the stat sheet. He finished with one tackle in the game.
Overall Grade: D
The Vikings needed a defensive stop for their second win, and the linebackers didn't deliver.
Josh Robinson: D+
Josh Robinson was picked on enough to get four tackles. He gets some credit for being the only remaining starter from the season opener.
Marcus Sherels: F
It shouldn't come as any surprise that Marcus Sherels led the Vikings with eight tackles. Lining up as the slot corner, Romo seemed to pick on him with several completions to Cole Beasley. Beasley finished with six catches for 68 yards, mostly lining up in the slot. He also gave up the winning touchdown to Dwayne Harris.
Xavier Rhodes: C-
Before leaving the game with an injury, Xavier Rhodes made six tackles.
A.J. Jefferson: C
A.J. Jefferson got into the game after Rhodes was injured. He came up with the first interception by a cornerback this season when he stepped in front of pass intended for Terrence Williams in the fourth quarter. If only the offense could have turned it into some points.
Overall Grade: F
They gave up over 314 net passing yards and the winning touchdown with less than a minute to play.
Mistral Raymond: C-
Mistral Raymond finished with only three tackles. He did have a very good hit to break up a pass to Terrence Williams—but the problem was that Williams was wide open on the play.
Andrew Sendejo: C
Filling in for Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo is doing well for a player who went undrafted. He finished with five tackles, with one of them for a loss.
Robert Blanton: D+
Robert Blanton's biggest contribution was taunting Dez Bryant after he dropped a pass as he was running wide open across the middle—I guess that's what you do when that's your best defensive play.
There's a reason these guys are backups—let's not take it out on them by giving them the grade they actually deserve. It's not their fault.
Blair Walsh: C-
Blair Walsh missed the first PAT in his short career. While that didn't make a difference in the game, it must have in Leslie Frazier's mind. Frazier decided to punt the ball instead of trying for a 53-yard field goal late in the game. It makes some sense since a field goal would have only given the Vikings a six-point lead.
Jeff Locke: C
Jeff Locke didn't get as much work as last week; that may explain his 37.7-yard average on three punts.
Cordarrelle Patterson: D
Patterson had four kickoff returns for 105 yards—well below the 39-yard average he came into the game with. His first mistake of the season hurt the Vikings as he muffed the first kickoff of third quarter at the 5-yard line. The Cowboys scored a defensive touchdown on the very next play.
Marcus Sherels: C
Sherels had two punt returns for 35 yards with a long of 26 yards.
Overall grade: C
The Vikings could have used a big play on special teams and didn't get one this week.