Cowboys drop pre-season finale in Minnesota

8-31-07 - Brooks Bollinger had to feel the heat.

Two days after his shaky performance in Seattle, the Minnesota Vikings traded for veteran Kelly Holcomb, putting Bollinger's status as backup quarterback in jeopardy.

In the Vikings' preseason finale against Dallas on Thursday night, Bollinger made his case for the job.

Bollinger threw for 109 yards and a touchdown in just under two quarters of Minnesota's 23-14 victory over the Cowboys.

"You know at that position you're going to have some ups and downs," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "The biggest thing in this deal was how he was going to bounce back. You get measured more by that than getting knocked down. It's how you get up. So I was happy for him that he had some success."

Cowboys quarterback Matt Moore was also impressive after fumbling the exchange on his second snap of the game. He completed nine of his first 10 passes and finished with 94 yards and a touchdown in a performance that may have won him the No. 3 job.

"With the time that I had in there, I think I made some plays," Moore said. "I made some mistakes, but they're things I can learn from."

The rookie from Oregon State lost two fumbles, but showed impressive poise and an accurate arm throughout, completing 14 of 19 passes. He entered the game leading the race for the final quarterback spot against Richard Bartel, who completed his first six passes, but lost a fumble and threw an interception in the final nine minutes of the fourth quarter.

"He's done a lot of good things and learned a lot here in training camp," said veteran Brad Johnson, who started the game for Dallas. "He's made a lot of plays, and it's good for those guys to get a chance to play."

Bollinger's status was, and probably still is, much more tenuous.

Last week against Seattle, he threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and had a quarterback rating of 27.7.

"I really felt in control and pretty similar both weeks," said Bollinger, who had a rating of 104.6 against the Cowboys. "This week I was just able to protect the ball better and score some touchdowns."

The Vikings brought in Holcomb on Monday to give them another veteran behind young starter Tarvaris Jackson. Holcomb went 5-for-8 for 59 yards and one interception in one quarter.

"It's been a crazy week. I was in Philadelphia on Monday and I'm playing a ballgame in Minnesota on Thursday with the Vikings," Holcomb said. "So it's been a little tough. A little sleep deprived, but hey, that's the way the game goes."

After Jackson played the first series, Bollinger came in and finished the first half. He helped turn two Dallas fumbles into touchdowns, including a 4-yard scoring pass to Sidney Rice that gave the Vikings a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.

Ryan Longwell kicked three field goals for the Vikings (2-2), who recovered four fumbles by the Cowboys (2-2) and finished with 14 takeaways in the preseason.

Moore's second pass of the game was nearly intercepted by safety Patrick Body. But Moore settled down and completed his next 12 passes, including a 6-yarder to Tony Curtis that tied the game late in the second quarter.

Jerheme Urban returned a punt 95 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter for the Cowboys, who played very few starters, especially on offense in the final game before they open against the Giants on Sept. 9.

"You never want to be tackled by the punter," Urban said.

Romo, Terrell Owens, Marion Barber III, Terry Glenn and Julius Jones all sat out for Dallas, which committed five turnovers and looked sloppy for the second week in a row.

The Vikings played their starters sparingly, holding out defensive linemen Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, cornerback Antoine Winfield and linebacker E.J. Henderson. Running back Chester Taylor also sat this one out, while Jackson only played the first series.

Johnson returned to where he spent nine of his 15 seasons in the league. His second stint with the Vikings ended when he struggled last season and didn't see eye to eye with Childress.

Several Vikings fans wore purple No. 14 jerseys to the game, and Johnson was 5-of-7 for 44 yards before yielding to Moore.

"I spent nine years of my life here," Johnson said. "So it was great to come back and see a lot of people."