Cowboys Look to Rebound

Though it's still only October, the Dallas Cowboys believe they're ready to play in February - even after a decisive loss on their home field.

The Cowboys try to regroup from their first defeat of the season when they host NFL leading rusher Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Dallas fell 48-27 to New England last week in a matchup that marked only the fifth time in league history that two undefeated teams with five or more wins faced each other. The Cowboys committed a season-high 12 penalties, failed to stop the Patriots on their first five drives and surrendered their most points since giving up 49 to Philadelphia on Nov. 15, 2004, but are still convinced that they'll be playing in this season's Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.

"If they make it to Arizona, we will see them again," receiver Patrick Crayton said of the Patriots. "Seriously, I'm not backing down from that statement."

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Dallas -9.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday's game, the over/under has been set at 47 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 56% of bets for this game have been placed on Dallas -9.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

The Cowboys (5-1), who have their bye week after hosting Minnesota (2-3), have allowed an NFC-worst 11 passing touchdowns this year. Dallas, however, has been stingier against the run, yielding just under 80 yards per game and two touchdowns on the year.

It will be sorely tested by Peterson, a native of Palestine, Texas - about two hours away from Dallas.

The rookie running back turned in one of the best performances in the NFL this season last Sunday in a 34-31 win at Chicago, running for a team-record 224 yards on 20 attempts and touchdowns of 67, 73 and 35 yards.

"I just got comfortable, more comfortable with the speed of the game," Peterson said. "I knew anything was possible."

Peterson, who played three times in Dallas in college in the Oklahoma-Texas rivalry, is still officially the backup to Chester Taylor. Peterson, however, leads the NFL in rushing yards (607) and yards per carry (6.3).

"He has had a lot of good days at Oklahoma," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "And I can say it over and over, I sound like a broken record, but he is just happy to be contributing and being a viable part of this team and this organization and just finding ways that he can contribute. It's extremely refreshing."

Peterson also has 10 receptions for 175 yards this year, and returned a kickoff 53 yards last week to set up Ryan Longwell's winning 55-yard field goal as time expired.

Whether struggling Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson can take advantage of Dallas' inability to defend against the pass is questionable. Jackson returned against the Bears after missing two games with a groin injury and completed a season-low 9 of 23 passes for 136 yards.

"You just want to be able to make plays, too," Jackson said. "You don't want to be that guy that holds the team back."

The Vikings are the only team in the NFL yet to allow a rushing touchdown, but they will have to shore up their pass defense against Tony Romo, Terrell Owens and Crayton. Minnesota has yielded an NFC-high 1,442 yards through the air, and Romo - an Eastern Illinois product like Childress - has 15 touchdowns to lead the conference.

"He throws early; he doesn't throw hard, which he is a great anticipatory thrower from that standpoint," Childress said. "I think that's the thing that makes him good. He understands his scheme. Heavy emphasis on Eastern Illinois though."

The Cowboys have been peppered with questions about the Patriots early this week, but they expect to go into their bye on a high.

"We're still 5-1. No, it wasn't beautiful and we got spanked a little bit," linebacker Bradie James said. "One game is not going to define you. ... Our confidence hasn't wavered. We still have opportunities to be successful, and that's what we're going to do."

Minnesota has won five straight against Dallas, including a playoff victory in 2000. The teams haven't met since the Vikings won 35-17 on Sept. 12, 2004.

By: AP Staff Writers - Email Us

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