EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The day after he criticized the Minnesota Vikings' defensive strategy on the final drive of a 27-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, defensive end Brian Robison stood by his comments, saying "I don't think I said anything out of line" when he vented about the team's decision to pull back its pass rush on the Cowboys' 90-yard march. Both Robison and defensive tackle Kevin Williams were critical of the approach on Sunday, and coach Leslie Frazier didn't exactly admonish either player for speaking his mind on Monday.
"You know, I respect their opinions and I know how competitive they are and how much they want to win," Frazier said Monday. "I like for them to talk to their coaches myself about whatever concerns they may have and try to get those worked out. But I do understand their frustration and I respect their opinions."
Both Robison and Williams were upset with the Vikings' decision to rush Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo with just three defenders after the Vikings had sacked him three times and pressured him on 36 percent of his dropbacks before the final drive, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Romo went 7-of-9 for 90 yards and a score on the final drive, completing six of his seven passes for 56 yards when he faced four or fewer pass-rushers. It's worth noting, though, that the Vikings rushed five defenders on the biggest play of the drive -- Romo's 32-yard completion to Dez Bryant -- though the receiver got free after safety Andrew Sendejo tried to jump Bryant's route and safety Mistral Raymond missed a tackle.
"That one we could have done something a little bit different," Frazier said. "We called a pressure. They blocked the pressure. They had some tells from an offensive standpoint that could have helped us there. That’s the one play that we might have done something a little different.”
All told, the Vikings dropped a defensive tackle into coverage on four of the final nine plays, which was more often than they brought any other kind of rush on the final drive. They rushed four linemen three times -- including on the game-winning touchdown -- and brought extra pressure twice, sending six defenders on Romo's incompletion to Terrance Williams and five on the completion to Bryant.
They only pressured Romo once on the drive, nearly reaching him with their six-man pressure. That fact might have helped Frazier make his point when he met with players on Monday afternoon that the call is only half of the equation.
"[It's] just being able to point out some of the things why it has to be reciprocal," Frazier said. "Not only what [offensive coordinator] Bill [Musgrave] or [defensive coordinator] Alan [Williams] calls but also our execution and making sure that we’re in sync with how to get that done. I think some of the things we’ll go through this afternoon will help us if we’re in those situations again to be much better."