The matchup between these two teams provides a few different story lines. The Dallas Cowboys are playing in their first divisional game in over a decade after dispatching the Eagles 34-14 in the wildcard round. The Minnesota Vikings were a playoff team a year ago, the expectations for this team greatly increased when they acquired Brett Favre during the offseason. The Vikings went from being a team who wanted to make a deep run in the playoffs to a team that now considered anything less than a Super Bowl appearance would be a failure. The Dallas Cowboys have only allowed a meager eight points per contest during their four-game winning streak. The Vikings on other hand, finished the season with only two wins in their final five games although their 44-7 victory against the Giants showed how dangerous this team can be when they’re clicking on all cylinders. One interesting note about Brett Favre is that he is 0-3 against the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs. So would the Dallas Cowboys’ stingy defense and balance offense continue against the Minnesota Vikings or would Brett Favre finally lead a team past the Dallas Cowboys?
Both teams would struggle to score early on in the game but something would have to give with two of the better offenses in the NFC on display. After coming up empty on their first two possessions, The Minnesota Vikings would come to life as Brett Favre would somehow complete a 46-yard touchdown pass to a well covered Sidney Rice to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the first quarter. After squandering several scoring opportunities on their early drives, the Cowboys would finally manage a field goal early in the second quarter but the Minnesota Vikings would answer with ten consecutive points as Brett Favre would find Sidney Rice again for 16-yard touchdown pass and the Vikings would tack on another field goal following a Dallas turnover to give the Minnesota Vikings as 17-3 lead going into halftime. Neither teams’ rushing game was a factor in the first half as both teams combined for a total of 89 yards between them. The difference of the game in the first half was the Cowboys committed two turnovers and the Minnesota Vikings’ defense was able to constantly generate a pass rush against the Dallas Cowboys offensive line as they sacked Tony Romo four times and forced three fumbles as well.
Both teams would play to a standstill in the third quarter as both defenses were able to keep the opposing offense out of the end zone and the score remained 17-3 heading into the final quarter. The offensive struggles for the Cowboys would continue in the fourth as Tony Romo would be intercepted deep in Dallas territory that would result and Minnesota would capitalize with a field goal to take a 20-3 lead. However the Minnesota Vikings were not done. Brett Favre and his favorite target of the day, Sidney Rice would again hook up for another 46-yard touchdown pass to give the Minnesota Vikings a commanding 27-3 with 7:32 remaining. As if the game wasn’t already in doubt, the Minnesota Vikings would rub salt in the wound with another score in the closing minutes as Brett Favre would find tight-end Visanthe Shiancoe for an 11-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to give the Minnesota Vikings a 34-3 win and a date with the New Orleans Saints next week in the Superdome. With the victory, the Minnesota Vikings advance to NFC Championship game for the first time in nearly a decade and now Brett Favre has his first win over the Dallas Cowboys in the post-season.
Keys to Victory:
While Brett Favre was impressive completing 15 of 24 passes along with 4 touchdown scores, one of main reasons why the Minnesota Vikings were victorious in this game is because of their defense. The Minnesota Vikings sacked Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo six times and forced three turnovers. After rushing for over 160 yards last week against the Eagles, the Minnesota Vikings held the Cowboys to under 100 yards rushing on the day. Tony Romo was under siege the entire game and the Dallas Cowboys had at least thirteen plays that went for negative yardage. Another reason why the Minnesota Vikings beat the Dallas Cowboys was because they had no answer for Sidney Rice as he caught six passes for 141 yards and three touchdowns.
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