Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Postgame: Vikings defeat Cowboys 24-21

Posted by: under Vikings, Brad Childress, Vikings offense, Vikings players, Brad Childress, Brett Favre, Chris Kluwe, E.J. Henderson, Jared Allen, Percy Harvin Updated: October 17, 2010 - 10:26 PM

The Vikings improved to 2-3 with a 24-21 victory against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

The Vikings offense continued to struggle with only 188 total yards, including 60 in the first half. But the defense got two interceptions from middle linebacker E.J. Henderson, Percy Harvin had a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and punter Chris Kluwe was terrific to flip field position.

"Everybody contributed," Coach Brad Childress said.

We'll plenty on Favre's day and Henderson's big performance online and in the paper. Here are some other notes and quotes from the postgame:

Favre's day

Brett Favre, who was questionable because of tendinitis in his right elbow, continued to take a pounding. He completed 14 of 19 passes for 118 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked three times and hit many more times.

Favre said afterward that his elbow "felt great."

"I don’t want to sit here and say 100-percent, but compared to the other night it felt great," he said. "I think it’s no secret I got a cortisone injection. Took two days off. It seems to have helped. Even though this past week was different because we got home Tuesday morning, before you knew it you were practicing. I’m going to try and take as many reps as I can, just from a timing standpoint. I’m going to try and be smart about it."
 
Favre was slow to get up after one hit in the third quarter.
 
"It was in the ribs but it knocked the wind out of me," he said. "If you have ever gotten the wind knocked out of you, you think you’re pretty close to death. I’m not going to sit here and say I’ll be John Wayne, but I’m hoping that we didn’t call a pass the next play. I knew I would be OK. It was more like, “OK, we have 30 seconds until the next play and hopefully I can catch my breath.” I wasn’t thinking about coming out, I was thinking about breathing again. They hit me and the first play of the game I got popped pretty good."
 
Moss returns home
 
Randy Moss caught five passes for 55 yards in his return to the Metrodome. Moss did not speak to reporters after the game, but his teammates talked about the message he delivered in the locker room after a sluggish first half.
 
"He gave a great, I don’t know if you would call it a speech, to the team," Favre said. "Most people don’t think of Randy that way and probably a lot of guys on this team that have known Randy for awhile and I’ve never played with him so I can’t say what it’s like to be in the locker room on a team with him. What’s said about him over the years is that maybe he’s not a good teammate or a great leader, and I can’t answer. But since he has been here, the guy has been outstanding. I thought it was a matter-of-fact and what we needed to hear. It wasn’t anything scientific. It was a couple choice words that I’d rather not use but I thought the guys responded well."
  
 
Harvin provides spark

Harvin changed momentum in an instant with his 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the second half. Harvin was named to the Pro Bowl as a returner last season and teams started kicking away from him at the end of his rookie season. Harvin said he's surprised when he gets a perfect opportunity like Dallas gave him by basically kicking the ball in the middle of the field.

“My eyes get kind of big,” he said. “I’m starting to get in the flow of the game. These past three weeks I feel probably the healthiest I’ve felt in a long time. So bring it.”
 
Harvin caught the ball at the 5, found his crease and broke two arm tackles. Jim Kleinsasser wiped out kicker David Buehler at the end.
 
“The hard part was done by the 10 blockers,” Harvin said. “I just found the hole. This is my job so hopefully I can break a tackle from the kicker. They left me with the easy guy and I just made him miss and there was nobody back there.”
 
Harvin averaged 44.7 yards on three returns; caught three passes for 21 yards; and carried the ball two times for 18 yards. He lined up in the slot and out wide as a receiver.
 
“He’s a little phenom,” Peterson said. “That’s what I call him, Little Mighty Mouse. He helps this offense out a lot. Percy Harvin is that guy that can take it to the house at any point when he has the ball in his hands.”
 
 
Defense forces change
 
The Vikings pass rush clearly bothered Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in the playoff game last season. The Vikings brought the heat again early in Sunday's game and the Cowboys altered their game plan.
 
The Vikings did not sack Romo but they forced him to get the ball out of his hands quickly.

“That’s probably the most dominating performance you can have without having a sack,” Jared Allen said. “We were hitting him all day. Look at the pressure we were putting on. It was forcing bad throws, quick throws. It was good.”

Romo tried to neutralize the rush by dumping the ball off to his running backs on screens and swing passes. Of his 24 completions, 15 went to running backs, including 10 by Felix Jones.
 
The Cowboys had a size advantage with their receivers against the Vikings shorthanded secondary, but Romo didn't take many shots down the field.
 
“We knew that we could get to the quarterback,” Allen said. “Even though we didn’t get any sacks, he was getting rid of the ball. You saw them change their game plan literally in the first series after we hit him about three or four times. All of a sudden it was screens, outlet passes, swing passes.”
 
Etc.:
-- Punter Chris Kluwe put four of his five punts inside the Cowboys 20-yard line, including a 53-yarder in the third quarter that pinned Dallas at its own 4. "He’s done a great job of directional punting," Childress said. "He’s really take that bit. The other thing he’s doing is kicking with great height and hang time. The people that do a great job in terms of not having punt returns are the people that are able to hang it up in the air and let our guys go down and cover it. Again, the kicking teams were outstanding."
 
-- The Cowboys sideline was livid over an offensive pass interference penalty that negated a 68-yard touchdown catch by Miles Austin in the second quarter. Austin used his right arm to get some separation from cornerback Asher Allen, but it didn’t appear to be flagrant by any means. But Allen lost his balance and fell. That left Austin wide open for an easy catch in the middle of the field and he sprinted for a touchdown. "I think I still have a hole in my jersey from that push-off," Allen said. "That’s pretty much why [I fell]. They never call that. That right there was an early gift. You’ll never get that in the NFL. People never call that. But it was blatant. That goes on a whole lot. But it’s football. It is what it is."
 
-- Safety Husain Abdullah suffered an apparent concussion in the first quarter and was replaced by Jamarca Sanford.
 
-- The Vikings had a turnover on their first possession when Favre and Peterson botched a handoff exchange. Favre was credited with the fumble, but Peterson took responsibility. "I didn’t get the ball," Peterson said. "I don’t feel like I gave him a pocket. That one was definitely on me."
 
 
 
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