Week 9 of the NFL season marked the year’s halfway point on Nov. 3. Yet if the endpoint of the season looks like Week 9, it will be a furious fight to the finish. Comebacks, thrillers and historic performances defined much of the day and night -- but as usual, the Dallas Cowboys offered the most drama, in a way that benefited them this time.
The Cowboys were on the verge of their ugliest defeat yet to the 1-6 Minnesota Vikings. Yet a week after a notable last-minute collapse, the Cowboys and Tony Romo came through with their backs against the wall. A final drive and a touchdown pass to Dwayne Harris gave Dallas a 27-23 victory and kept it from a week of ugly headlines.
The Vikings fell short despite Adrian Peterson’s best efforts, as he gained 140 yards and dragged the Cowboys into the end zone with him on a fourth-and-inches touchdown. It gave Minnesota a 23-20 lead in the fourth, and a subsequent Romo interception seemed to be a familiar nail in the coffin for Dallas.
But since the Vikings are still a 1-6 team, they couldn’t capitalize and chose to punt in Cowboys’ territory. Romo took over at his own 10 with under three minutes left, and promptly went 7-for-9 over the next two minutes. Once Harris caught his final pass for the winning score, Romo found himself on the right side of a thrilling finish, right in the nick of time.
Although the Cowboys should not have struggled so much against the Vikings, a win was much better than the embarrassing alternative. With a visit to the New Orleans Saints approaching on Nov. 10, the Cowboys were staring at a potential 4-6 record ahead -- although they might have stayed in first place anyway.
Yet the NFC East still has a .500 or better team in first place for the moment. As it turned out, it was one of the few places where order was restored in the NFL in Week 9. Here is a list of the best and worst games in a day where all but three games went to the wire.