Final

Cowboys 3

(11-5, 5-3 away)

Vikings 34

(12-4, 8-0 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, January 17, 2010

Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, MN 

1 2 3 4 T
DAL 0 3 0 03
MIN 7 10 0 1734

Top Performers

Passing: B. Favre (MIN) - 234 YDS, 4 TD

Rushing: F. Jones (DAL) - 14 CAR, 69 YDS

Receiving: S. Rice (MIN) - 6 REC, 141 YDS, 3 TD

Vikings sack Romo six times to advance to NFC title game vs. Saints

ESPNl.com news services

MINNEAPOLIS -- "This is what I came back for."

For the adrenaline rush. For the in-your-face touchdown. For another shot at the Super Bowl.

Brett Favre wanted all of it, and now he's got it.

More on Cowboys-Vikings

Brett Favre's performance in leading the Vikings to the NFC title game is nothing short of remarkable, writes Gene Wojciechowski. Story


Cowboys made strides this season, but loss to Vikings shows they're not yet elite, as ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins details. Story


Cowboys QB Tony Romo didn't lose this one, and he never had a chance to win it. ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon breaks it down. Story


Minnesota battered Tony Romo, resurrecting its pass rush just in time to face the NFL's most explosive passing game, writes Kevin Seifert. Blog


In his NFC East blog, ESPN.com's Matt Mosley details the abrupt end to the Cowboys' season. Blog

Four -- count 'em, four -- touchdown passes from Minnesota's 40-year-old quarterback sent the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game with a determined 34-3 rout of the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

"Probably the most fatigued I got today was celebrating," Favre said, smiling.

The Vikings (13-4) will take on the Saints next Sunday at New Orleans (14-3), with the winner going to the Super Bowl in Miami -- the only reason Favre put retirement on hold for a second straight season.

Favre found Sidney Rice for three scores and put an exclamation point on the final one when his fourth-and-3 pass from the 11 was caught in the end zone by Visanthe Shiancoe after the 2-minute warning.

Never in 22 previous playoff games had Favre thrown for four scores, and never before had he beaten Dallas in the postseason after losses to the Cowboys ended his first three playoff experiences with Green Bay.

Favre finished 15 for 24 for 234 yards without a turnover, slapping fives with anyone in reach and rapidly pumping his right arm after each score.

Opposite Of Clutch

Dallas QB Tony Romo was harassed by Vikings defenders all afternoon and couldn't convert when it counted most.

Romo Passing by Down
1/2 3/4
Comp-att 17-25 5-10
Passing yards 158 40
1st Downs 8 2
Passer rating 85.1 20.8

"I feel like I'm playing the same way. I have the same enthusiasm," Favre said. "As long as I'm out there, the enthusiasm and the passion that you see is real. And I know the guys feed off of that. Fans enjoy that, because it is real and genuine."

Favre even added another accomplishment as the first 40-year-old quarterback to win a playoff game.

"Today was like this season: It's been wonderful," said Favre, whose only championship came 13 years ago with the Packers.

The Vikings, who had last week off while the Cowboys whipped Philadelphia, were bothered by all the people picking Dallas to win.

"The Tasmanian devils were coming from Dallas that were about to bombard the state of Minnesota and run through us like Sherman through the South," coach Brad Childress said, exaggerating the popular opinion about this game. "All of us felt it quite palpably."

Fans, too, remembered Drew Pearson's alleged push-off in that 1975 playoff game and the Herschel Walker trade that fueled the Dallas dynasty of the '90s. So maybe this game meant a little more to the guys in purple than simply moving on to the semifinal, if not for the players then for the people who have cheered for the purple for 49 years without a championship.

Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking balked at the late touchdown, confronting Childress on the sideline.

"I think it was totally classless and disrespectful," Brooking said.

Childress and Favre both chalked it up to staying aggressive to the end.

"That wasn't rubbing it in. It's just taking care of business," the coach said.

Ray Edwards led the Minnesota defense's harassment of Tony Romo, who sat stone-faced on the bench between possessions in the second half after a three-turnover game against one of his childhood favorites.

"Any time you come in with the expectations and goals we set and don't accomplish them, No. 1, it's frustrating," Romo said, taking a long pause. "Right now, it's just hard to think the season is over."

Romo was sacked six times, three by Edwards, lost two of his three fumbles and threw an interception right to Ben Leber deep in his own end late in the third quarter to set up a Vikings field goal.

Edwards injured his right knee in the third quarter, returned to the game and left late as a precaution, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. Childress characterized the injury as a bruise and was optimistic he would play next week.

After gaining 118 yards in the first quarter, the Cowboys got only 130 the rest of the way and watched the buzz from their first playoff win in 13 years last week fizzle out.

Fast Facts

• Brett Favre threw four TD passes for the first time in a playoff game -- including three to Sidney Rice -- and the Vikings advanced to their first NFC Championship Game since the 2000 season.

• Minnesota sacked Tony Romo six times and forced three turnovers. Romo threw one interception and fumbled the ball three times, losing two of them.

• Minnesota will play at New Orleans -- the third No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in the NFC Championship Game in the last six seasons.

• Rice is the first player in Vikings' franchise history with three TD receptions in a playoff game.

• This was the Vikings' second-largest margin of victory in a playoff game, while the Cowboys suffered their second-worst defeat in a playoff game.

• Ray Edwards had three of Minnesota's six sacks, tying a franchise record for sacks in a game.

-- ESPN Stats & Information

• Rapid Reaction

"It's like the elevator falling from the top. It's tough when it's over. If you don't win it all, you have not reached your goal," coach Wade Phillips said.

Romo went 22 for 35 for 198 yards, but for all the strides he made this season his lack of poise in the din of the Metrodome will be remembered well. The last time Dallas won a playoff game on the road was the NFC championship after the 1992 season.

"We took some steps in the right direction with this football team," Brooking said, adding the qualifier: "I don't consider this a successful year. We play this for one reason, and one reason only."

Which is, again, just why Childress the Vikings made such a fuss over Favre this summer while he was trying to make up his mind.

"Same ol' Brett," Rice said. "He's doing thing he's done since he first came in the league: moving around, getting the ball out, breaking tackles and even running down the field and throwing blocks. That just shows you how big of a heart he has."

Favre took some hard hits by Dallas and that fierce front seven, but he was as sharp as he was all season. Stepping up in the pocket to elude the rush and making the right reads downfield, Favre looked the part of the missing Super Bowl piece the Vikings were searching for when they persuaded him to join them last summer.

"He's playing his heart out," said defensive end Jared Allen, who had a sack and a forced fumble.

The crowd was loud, as it usually is under the roof where the Vikings won all eight games this season, and that helps the defensive line here as much as any position.

The turning point came in the first quarter during a second straight too-easy drive for Dallas. Romo dropped a second-down snap at the 35, and on fourth-and-1 at the 30 Phillips sent Shaun Suisham out for a field goal. It went wide left, as did his try from 49 yards in the third quarter.

Four plays later, Favre found Rice in single coverage and fired a perfectly placed ball up the sideline from 47 yards out. Just like that, the Cowboys were behind for the first time since their loss to San Diego on Dec. 13.

Game notes


Rice's three TDs set a Vikings playoff record and tied the NFL record. ... Sen. Al Franken and baseball star Torii Hunter, who played for the Twins but is a Cowboys fan, were among those in attendance. ... TE Jason Witten led Dallas with 10 catches and 98 yards. ... Cowboys LT Flozell Adams hurt his leg late in the second quarter and didn't return.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
DAL
MIN
1st Downs1616
Passing 1st downs
1011
Rushing 1st downs
64
1st downs from Penalties
01
3rd down efficiency
3-134-13
4th down efficiency
0-21-2
Total Plays6660
Total Yards248323
Yards per play3.85.4
Total Drives1312
Passing156214
Comp - Att
22-3515-24
Yards per pass
4.58.9
Interceptions thrown
10
Sacks - Yards Lost
6-423-20
Rushing92109
Rushing Attempts
2533
Yards per rush
3.73.3
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-12-4
Penalties2-108-50
Turnovers30
Fumbles lost
20
Interceptions thrown
10
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession30:3429:26

Passing Leaders

DALC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Romo22/351985.7016-42
MINC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Favre15/242349.8403-20

Rushing Leaders

DALCARYDSAVGTDLG
Jones14694.9017
Barber8141.808
MINCARYDSAVGTDLG
Peterson26632.4011
Taylor4235.8014

Receiving Leaders

DALRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Witten10989.802213
Austin4348.50128
MINRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Rice614123.53477
Berrian33210.70196

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERDALMIN
minTD04:04Sidney Rice 47 Yd Pass From Brett Favre (Ryan Longwell Kick) 07
SECOND QUARTERDALMIN
dalFG12:11Shaun Suisham 33 Yd 37
minTD07:23Sidney Rice 16 Yd Pass From Brett Favre (Ryan Longwell Kick) 314
minFG03:46Ryan Longwell 23 Yd 317
FOURTH QUARTERDALMIN
minFG14:23Ryan Longwell 28 Yd 320
minTD07:32Sidney Rice 45 Yd Pass From Brett Favre (Ryan Longwell Kick) 327
minTD01:55Visanthe Shiancoe 11 Yd Pass From Brett Favre (Ryan Longwell Kick) 334