NFL Preseason: Cowboys 35, Vikings 31
MINNEAPOLIS ó The Minnesota Vikings’ preseason finale Friday night did nothing to help coach Brad Childress clear up his murky backup quarterback situation.
Tarvaris Jackson played well but only attempted four passes, and Sage Rosenfels threw an ugly interception in a 35-31 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Jackson, Rosenfels and John David Booty are likely competing for two spots behind Brett Favre, with final cuts due Saturday. Jackson led two touchdown drives and was 2 for 4 for 42 yards, including a 36-yard TD pass to Jeff Dugan.
Rosenfels went 7 for 15 for 115 yards with an interception returned for a touchdown.
Cowboys coach Wade Phillips rested Tony Romo and most of his regular starters, and it showed. Dallas turned over the ball four times, leading to 21 Minnesota points.
Despite only being in purple for a little over two weeks and still working on chemistry with his receivers, Favre watched the entire game from the sideline with the rest of the starters.
After hitting a wide open Dugan for a touchdown in the first quarter, Jackson led another scoring drive off a turnover by Jon Kitna before giving way to Rosenfels.
The Vikings acquired Rosenfels in a trade with Houston in February to compete with Jackson for the starting job.That all changed when Favre hopped a flight from Mississippi to Minnesota on Aug. 18. The 39-year-old looked solid in three quarters against the Texans on Monday night, so Childress sat him to avoid risking a major injury.
Rosenfels took the Vikings to the 1-yard line on his opening drive, but was stuffed by Patrick Watkins on a naked bootleg on fourth down.
It was the first of three big plays by Watkins, a fourth-year safety. He blocked a field goal by Ryan Longwell, then intercepted a pass by Rosenfels and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Childress yanked Rosenfels for the next series, but Booty’s first pass was intercepted by Steve Octavien and returned 44 yards for another score. Booty finished 7 of 13 for 85 yards.
Kitna started and was just as shaky for the Cowboys. He went 9 for 14 for 100 yards, with a touchdown, an interception and a lost fumble.
Rosenfels signed a three-year, $9 million contract extension when he was traded to Minnesota, which might help his cause. He was 10 for 13 for 91 yards in his debut at Indianapolis. But he missed the second preseason game with an ankle injury and has been outplayed by Jackson since.
Darius Reynaud, trying to make the Vikings as one of the last receivers and a return specialist, may have solidified his spot with an electric 81-yard punt return in the second quarter.
Two Cowboys defenders had Reynaud trapped when he squirted right between them and darted up field. He made a quick cut to avoid punter Mat McBriar and beat everyone else to the end zone for a 21-7 lead.
Dallas receiver Jesse Holley provided the winning margin when a punt by Chris Kluwe took a funny backward hop and landed in Holley’s arms. He raced 82 yards for a touchdown.