Dallas D survives Hall of Fame performance

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Hall of Fame-caliber performances tend to happen when historically elite players face this Dallas Cowboys defense.

Peyton Manning was magnificent against the Cowboys. He threw for 414 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another score to lead the Denver Broncos to a 51-48 win over Dallas last month.

Calvin Johnson was spectacular. He caught 14 passes for 329 yards -- the most ever by an NFL receiver in a non-overtime game -- and a touchdown in the Lions’ 31-30 win over Dallas last week.

Adrian Peterson was pretty awesome, too. He rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries, adding 37 yards on three receptions, against Dallas on Sunday afternoon. But the Cowboys survived this time, coming back to pull out a 27-23 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

“That’s the NFL for you,” linebacker Sean Lee said. “It’s fun. It’s a challenge. We all embrace it and love playing against great players. That’s how you test yourself.”

Put yourself in safety Jeff Heath's cleats for a moment. The undrafted rookie out of Division II Saginaw Valley State ended up on future Hall of Famers’ highlight reels in his first two starts.

“Megatron” soared over a perfectly positioned Heath for a 54-yard catch in the Lions’ win over the Cowboys. Moments after Peterson made Heath pay for taking a poor angle on a 52-yard run, Heath delivered a solid hit on “A.D.” at the 5-yard line and thought he was in the process of putting him on his back, only to end up as part of a posse that Peterson carried into the end zone.

“You can’t really dive into the NFL any more than that, playing against the two best players at those positions,” Heath said. “Adrian Peterson is a beast. It’s pretty crazy. After the game, you think about who you just played against and it’s pretty crazy.”

Well, it won’t get a whole lot easier next week. Here comes Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham and the New Orleans Saints.